The National Security Council (NSC) Bill is the greatest security disservice to Malaysia by the Najib premiership, as instead of uniting Parliament and the nation with a single-minded purpose to defeat the threat of ISIS terrorists, it has divided the country with an unprecedented unconstitutional grab for power by the Prime Minister.
After the shot-gun passage of the NSC Bill in the Dewan Rakyat on Dec. 3 as if “a thief in the night” without proper prior notice or consultation with MPs and the civil society, the country was assured that the NSC bill is aimed primarily at fighting terrorism particularly the threat posed by ISIS, and not intended to usurp the constitutional powers of the Yang di Pertuan Agong in declaring a state of emergency for country.
If the NSC Bill was designed primarily to deal with the threat of terrorism posed by ISIS, the logical thing to do is to park the proposed National Security Council under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) instead of creating a new executive body which is even more powerful than the Cabinet with far-reaching and new-fangled powers.
I had expected the government go out of its way to convince the nation in the debate in the Dewan Negara that the NSC Bill is no attempt at an unconstitutional grab for power to allow the Prime Minister to exercise powers never envisaged under the Merdeka and Malaysia Constitutions of 1957 and 1963, but was focused on arming the government with the necessary powers to fight the new threat posed by the ISIS terrorists.
But this never happened.
Instead, the focus of the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Shahidan Kassim, the Minister responsible for shepherding the Bill through Parliament, was to deny that the Prime Minister was taking over the powers of the Yang di Pertuan Agong, on the spurious ground that the power to declare a state of emergency is still in the hands of the Yang di Pertuan Agong under Article 150 of the Constitution.
But with the NSC Bill, Article 150 is as good as a dead letter.
It is most disturbing that the Najib government has refused to admit and acknowledge what is obvious to all sensible Malaysians – that Section 18 of the NSC Bill, which empowers the Prime Minister to declare an area as a security zone (which could be the whole country), has rendered redundant and nugatory the prerogative of the Yang di Pertuan Agong under Article 150 to declare an emergency.
True, the power to declare a state of emergency is still in the hands of the Yang di Pertuan Agong, but with Section 18 of the NSC Bill, the Prime Minister can now completely by-pass the Yang di Pertuan Agong and the Cabinet to invoke and exercise emergency powers which until now could only be invoked if there is a Proclamation of Emergency by the Yang di Pertuan Agong under Article 150 of the Constitution.
In forcing the Senate to go through the parliamentary charade of allowing the Barisan Nasional Senators to speak up on the weaknesses, flaws and dangers of the NSC Bill, but requiring them to vote in support of the Bill, the Najib administration is in fact admitting that the critics and the opponents of the NSC Bill are right that it is open to considerable abuses by the Executive, but the Prime Minister is in desperate need of such dangerous powers as Najib is fighting for his political life.
Najib should explain why he is so intent on Malaysia replacing Myanmar as the “bad boy” in Asean for democracy and human rights, as highlighted by the European Parliament resolution last Thursday, focusing on “corruption and human rights abuses in Malaysia”, referring in particular to the NSC Bill and the “rapidly narrowing space” for public debate and free speech as the government “resorts to vaguely worded criminal laws to silence its critics and quell public discontent and peaceful expression”, with at least 78 people investigated or charged under the Sedition Act since the beginning of 2014.
What are the chances of the Najib administration heeding the widespread protests and objections to the NSC Bill, which posed the greatest threat to the two Rukunegara principles of the Supremacy of the Constitution and the Rule of Law in Malaysia, and make appropriate amendments to the NSC Bill before they are presented to the Yang di Pertuan Agong for Royal Assent?
The whole country waits for word from Najib– is the Prime Minister going to defer the NSC Bill from seeking for the Royal Assent until there are suitable amendments or is he not.
The ball is in Najib’s court.
What a way to end 2015 and to usher in the new year 2016.