The Malaysian Bar is deeply concerned that on 9 April 2019 the government tabled a bill to further extend the government’s expansive powers under the National Security Council Act 2016 (NSC Act) — a law that, in its current form, already has all the hallmarks of authoritarianism.
As detailed in the Malaysian Bar’s press statements issued on 3 December 2015 and 15 June 2016, the NSC Act is of questionable constitutional validity and violates the rule of law.
Further, the NSC Act avoids public scrutiny and proper accountability and promotes unfettered discretion and an environment of impunity.
It bears restating that the Pakatan Harapan coalition pledged — in Promise 27 of its election manifesto for the 2018 general election — to abolish laws that it described as “oppressive” and “tyrannical”, with the NSC Act being listed as one such law.
The Malaysian Bar reminds the government that it has more than enough laws giving it more than enough powers to address security concerns.
If there are gaps in laws to effectively deal with security concerns, existing laws can be amended or appropriate new laws enacted, without recourse to the repressive laws that the government had promised to abolish.
The tabling of the bill to further strengthen the draconian NSC Act can only be understood as an abandonment of the Pakatan Harapan government’s election promise as well as its commitment and willingness to bring forth genuine and positive legislative reform.
The Malaysian Bar urges the government to withdraw the bill and to abolish the NSC Act at the very next parliamentary sitting, in fulfilment of its election promise.
Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor is president of the Malaysian Bar.
This piece, written on 14 April 2019, is reproduced from here and has been edited for style only.