Malaysia passes new security Bill

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's Parliament has passed a new National Security Council (NSC) Bill that grants Prime Minister Najib Razak - the chairman of the council - the power to declare any area a "security zone", and allow security forces to make arrests without warrants, and seize or destroy property.

The government pushed the Bill through Parliament in just six hours on the last day of the current session without amendments, reported Malaysiakini.

Opposition MPS had pushed for a bloc vote against the Bill at the committee stage of the proceedings, but they were defeated 107 to 77 votes. The opposition had argued that the Bill subverted the power of the Malaysian King to declare a state of emergency.

Critics fear that the law will be used to crack down on dissent. "Even if we suspect someone (of being a security threat), we can make arrests," Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Shahidan Kassim told the House.

According to the Bill, the council's jurisdiction comes into effect once the prime minister designates a location as a "security area". This will be in force for six months, subject to renewal. Once the security area is declared, security forces have the right to carry out searches and arrests without a warrant.

The Bill would provide the director-general of the council with the power to commandeer any building or land in the area, or carry out demolitions of property suspected to be used for reasons "prejudicial to national security", reported The Malay Mail Online.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2015, with the headline 'Malaysia passes new security Bill'. Print Edition | Subscribe