NSC Bill draws concern and criticism from various groups

PETALING JAYA: Despite assurances by the government that the National Security Council (NSC) Bill 2015 is strictly meant to protect national security and will not be used to stifle the Opposition or civil societies, NGO leaders and those from the other side of the political divide have expressed reservations towards the controversial bill which was passed by the Dewan Negara on Tuesday.

Centre for Public Policy Studies chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam told theSun that it was a pity that such a critical and sensitive legislation which could potentially violate human rights was rushed through Parliament in such haste.

He added that considering the legislation was already passed, it should be administered with great caution only under very demanding circumstances.

Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah said the legislation should not have even been passed in Parliament due to certain unclear words in the bill itself.

"For example, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim claimed that the power to declare a state of emergency is still in the hands of the Yang diPertuan Agong as Clause 18 of the Bill only empowers the Prime Minister to declare an area as a national security zone.

"They have cleverly avoided the word emergency and replaced it with national security area which is equivalent to declaring an emergency," she said today.

Meanwhile, DAP Parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang wrote on his blog that the Cabinet should establish a special committee comprising of parliamentarians from both sides to propose new amendments to the NSC Bill, which can be presented to the Special Parliament which will be convened at the end of January.

While Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah Youth Chief Sany Hamzan said the party is mulling the option of challenging the bill's legitimacy in court.

The recently formed opposition party also called on the Council of Malay Rulers to reject the legislation.