Malaysiakini News

NSC Act: Harapan manifesto says abolish, but Mat Sabu says reshuffle?

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Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu has indicated that the Pakatan Harapan government may only review and "reshuffle" the National Security Council (NSC) Act 2016, despite the latter's election pledge to abolish the controversial law.

Where once it was described as a draconian law, the minister now deemed it a "good vehicle" which had been made political by the previous regime, according to a report by the Malay Mail

What was important, he had reportedly told reporters in Kuala Lumpur today, was that the government maintained the right control over the NSC and not allow it to be used as a tool in favour of any Harapan component parties.

"We are looking to review (the Act), because NSC actually is a good vehicle, especially for government officers to serve the government.

“What we have to control is, we don’t want it to become a party's [tool] where we try to instigate, to pressure them to support Amanah or to support Bersatu or to support DAP,” he was quoted saying.

To a question if "review" meant the Act would be abolished or merely amended, Mohamad, who is more commonly called Mat Sabu, replied that he would personally prefer a "reshuffle" of certain provisions.

He reportedly said: “We will look into it, whether it is important (for the Act) to stay or we want to abolish it, but for me that is, only to reshuffle a few (legal provisions)."

On May 14, the Federal Court granted de facto Harapan leader Anwar Ibrahim leave, or permission, to challenge the constitutionally of the Act.

He had filed a summons in 2016 to declare the Act unconstitutional and sought an injunction to prevent the NSC from exercising its powers under the Act pending a resolution.

The new government, too, had promised to review "unsuitable laws" pertaining to national security, even though those listed did not include the NSC Act. 

Many critics, including members of the then opposition and the Council of Rulers, had panned the law and expressed concern that its seeming wide-reaching powers would be abused for other purposes besides security.

It was gazetted and came into effect in August 2016, despite the rulers directing the previous BN-led government to relook the bill.

Under the Act, the council formed would be placed under the premier and could declare an emergency and command operational control over security forces at designated security areas as long as in the name of national security.

Beside the NSC Act, Harapan also pledged to abolish draconian laws like the Sedition Act 1948, University and University Colleges Act 1971 (UUCA), Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca), Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (Pota), Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA) and the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 (AFN).

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