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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 22, 2015:

The National Security Council (NSC) Bill 2015, which provides for the establishment of 15 special powers to set up the NSC and security forces to control and coordinate operations pertaining to national security, was passed in the Senate tonight.

Senate president Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang, when making the announcement at 8.20pm, said the law was approved based on a vote, with more in support for it.

“It (the law) has been created to improve and maintain order in the country, after taking into account all matters that have been raised, prior to this.

“There is no prejudice, it is not done for any individual but for our beloved country,” he said after the third reading of the bill.

The bill was extensively discussed by 37 senators from both Barisan Nasional (BN) and the Opposition, during the sitting.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim, when winding up the bill, said there was no issue of the Prime Minister taking over the powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, which was a concern among many people before this.

“Clause 18 of the Bill empowers the Prime Minister to declare an area as a security zone, and to control and manage threats and react at an early stage, before the situation becomes severe.

“This clause was created to complement Article 150 of the Constitution whereby the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has the authority to proclaim (declare) a state of emergency, on the advice of the Cabinet.

“The power to declare a state of emergency is still in the hands of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

“So, statements alleging that Clause 18 allows the Prime Minister to take over the Agong’s power is not true at all, because the proclamation of a state of emergency and declaring an area as a security zone are different,” he said.

To a proposal to include representatives from Sabah and Sarawak, as well as ministers in the NSC, Shahidan said members were selected based on expertise, and not in the spirit of including state representatives.

“Members are selected based on their suitability to the subject matter.

“Having too many members is not appropriate with the main function of the council (NSC), which revolves around security and state secrets.

“However, the council will set up a special committee which requires committee members and here, any party including ministers will be called if the need arises for the smooth running of the coucil,” he added.

In the meantime, while explaining the need for the bill when there were already existing laws such as the Security Offences (Special Measures) (Sosma) Act 2012 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota), 2015, Shahidan said both the acts were totally different in terms of their functions and objectives.

“The objective of Sosma is on procedures and investigations relating to security offences, while Pota is to prevent the acts of terrorists operating from abroad,” he explained.

He said the NSC Bill was geared more towards the establishment of the National Security Council, the declaration of security zones and the granting of special powers to the security forces.

“Therefore, when it was raised that the NSC Bill is similar to Sosma and Pota, it is not true and totally baseless,” he added.

The NSC Bill had been passed in the Senate on Dec 3 after facing an uphill task, as Opposition Members of Parliament demanded that it be withdrawn or suspended.

The bill provides for 15 special powers to the Operations Director and security forces to control and coordinate operations pertaining to national security.

It mentions among other things, that the Operations Director is responsible for the operations within a security zone.

The security forces consist of the police, police volunteer reserves and auxiliary police, the Malaysian Armed Forces and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

The bill provides for special jurisdictions which include the arrest and transfer of persons, curfew, the power to control the movement on roads, authority to catch, the power to inspect and seize, the power to search premises for dangerous items, the power to examine persons for dangerous items and the power to seize a vehicle, vessel, aircraft or carrier.

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