Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Home Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi has denied that the National Security Council (NSC) Bill which was passed in indecent haste by Dewan Rakyat 107 to 74 votes in a late-night sitting on Thursday had any political motive or gave absolute power to the Prime Minister.
Zahid claimed that the NSC bill was to strengthen enforcement in comprehensively looking after the security of the people in the country and the full executive power is not with the Prime Minister but with the National Security Council as had been done before with Poca and Pota, namely, the crime prevention law and terrorism prevention law.
He further claims that overall, the NSC Bill is aimed at safeguarding public and national security.
I challenge all these claims by Zahid and I further challenge Zahid to a public debate on the NSC Bill as it paves the way for a dictatorship and does not safeguard public and national security.
The public debate could be held in Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Penang or Johor Baru and I leave it to Zahid to decide on anyone or even at all of these five venues.
Both Zahid and I had not taken part in the parliamentary debate on the NSC Bill on Thursday.
Zahid was only an observer in the parliamentary debate on Thursday as the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Shahidan Kassim was responsible for taking the NSC Bill through Parliament for the second and third readings while I had not participated in the parliamentary debate as I had been suspended from Parliament for six months for demanding accountability for Najib’s RM2.6 billion and RM50 billion 1MDB twin mega scandals.
Zahid could not be so naive as to think that his bald denial that the NSC Bill is vesting the Prime Minister with absolute powers would have any credibility when even the former longest-serving Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir has denounced the NSC Bill as reducing the constitutional powers of the Rulers and usurping the powers of the Yang di Pertuan Agong in declaring an emergency.
The NSC Bill will render Article 150 on proclamation of emergency by the Yang di Pertuan Agong on Cabinet advice completely superfluous, for the NSC Bill will vest powers on the Prime Minister to exercise emergency powers without having to invoke Article 150 for a proclamation of emergency by the Yang di Pertuan Agong on Cabinet advice.
This is clearly a Prime Ministerial usurpation of the powers of the Yang di Pertuan Agong under Article 150, for the Prime Minister by the simple expedient of the declaration of a “security area” would be able to exercise all emergency powers which under the Malaysian Constitution, could only be made after a proclamation of emergency had been made by the Yang di Pertuan Agong under Article 150 of the Federal Constitution.
But this is not the only power-grab in the NSC bill, as it is no less than a quadruple grab of power at the expense of the Yang di Pertuan Agong, the Cabinet, and the autonomy powers of Sarawak and Sabah.
The NSC Bill is a preposterous and monstrous law for the definition of “national security” is so wide as to be a “catch-all”, covering not only “sovereignty, territorial integrity, defence” but also encompasses “socio-political stability, economic stability, strategic resources, national unity and other interests relating to national security” [Section 4(a) of NSC Bill], which allows for great abuses by the Executive.
In fact, the definition of “national security” is so elastic and open-ended that it covers virtually all issues under the sun, and not confined strictly to security issues like threats from Islamic State (IS) or intrusion by Sulu terrorists from southern Philippines.
The Najib government’s track record on human rights and the rule of law is so dismal that it could not be trusted with untrammelled powers as it has acquired the bad habit of abusing existing laws.
The latest example of the propensity of the Najib government to abuse powers is the prosecution of the former de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim under the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) Act for calling for Najib’s resignation and public support for Tun Mahathir in his campaign to achieve this objective.
Zaid is accused of making an offensive statement under Section 233 (1)(a) of MCMC Act which, on conviction, carries a maximum RM50,000 fine or up to one year’s jail or both.
With such an abysmal record in abuses of power – as Zaid’s prosecution is only the latest case of a long list of government abuses of power arresting and charging Opposition and civil society activists, including prosecuting persons with no terroristic tendencies under laws enacted specifically to combat terrorism – how can the Najib government be entrusted with such new untrammelled powers to impose emergency rule in declared “security areas” without having to comply with Article 150 on a Proclamation of Emergency by the Yang di Pertuan Agong?
The charge against Zaid under Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (Act 588), punishable under Section 233(3) of the same Act, carries a maximum RM50,000 fine or up to one year’s jail, or both, upon conviction.
Imagine Zaid going to jail for a year just for calling on Najib to resign as Prime Minister?
There are grave concerns that the NSC Bill could also be used to suppress the growing national clamour about Najib’s RM2.6 billion “donation” and RM50 billion 1MDB twin mega scandals, or the growing support in Sarawak and Sabah for greater autonomy in the areas of resource development with regard to the claim for 20% of oil royalty to the oil-producing states, education particularly on the use of English language and recognition of the UEC in Sarawak, the NCR and other issues connected with greater autonomy for Sarawak and Sabah.
Let Zahid come to a public debate or a series of public debates to convince Malaysians that the NSC Bill will not pave the way to a dictatorship and is indeed necessary to safeguard public and national security.
(Speech at the Bintulu DAP “Solidarity with Lim Kit Siang & Mana RM2.6 billion?” ceramah at Mandarin Restaurant, Bintulu on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015 at 8 pm)