KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Negara passed the controversial National Security Council (NSC) Bill at the committee stage today with a voice vote. Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim told the Dewan Negara that the Bill was drafted with national security in mind and not to make any person a dictator. "The NSC Bill is for the country's security and for the good of the people. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak does not intend to divide the people further or rule with special powers," Shahidan said during his winding-up speech. He assured that the law will be used solely for security situations and will not be abused against the Opposition or civil societies. On concerns raised by senators during the debates, Shahidan explained that the emergency-like powers in the NSC Bill are meant for smaller scale operations. He said it is still the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong's prerogative to declare a state of emergency, which will suspend institutions such as Parliament and state assemblies, and that the NSC Bill is more localised and smaller in scale. Shahidan said this will allow security forces to act immediately and in a cohesive manner without any undue delay during operations where time is of the essence. Shahidan said those who have their property or land acquired or destroyed by the government will be compensated according to current market value and any unsatisfactory party will have 14 days to send in their objections. Shahidan then chided those who opposed the Bill and said they will never know they need for such laws until the situation arises, and it would be too late by then. Most senators assented to the bill but recommended that several provisions be amended. Datuk Lucas Umbul (BN) suggested that the power to declare a security area be deferred to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong as he is apolitical, making the bill more in line to the Agong's power to declare a state of emergency. "Such powers should be given to someone who is qualified and above politics. I am saying that the person should be the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong," Umbul told the Dewan Negara. Tan Sri Ibrahim Shah Abu Shah (BN) argued that security takes precedence over human rights in today's world due to the dynamic and evolving threats the country faces. Ibrahim Shah said the UK and the US, too, have put security above human rights when addressing terrorist threats since 9/11. Datuk Megat Zulkarnain Omardin (BN) said a state of emergency will also allow the federal government to assume all of the state governments' powers and duties. "This means that if Selangor, which is currently under PKR, is in a state of emergency, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali will have no power to run the state," he said. Meanwhile, Senator Siti Aishah Shaik Ismail (PKR) flayed the bill and declared it unconstitutional due to the emergency-like powers granted to the NSC and the Prime Minister, who chairs the NSC. Siti Aishah said the bill has much potential for abuse as it grants the power to arrest without warrant and the government's assurance that it will not be misused rings hollow. "The government has a poor track record as it used security laws such as the Internal Security Act and the Sedition Act on political dissidents rather than terrorists as assured before," she said. Dewan Negara speaker Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang also rejected a motion to refer the Bill to a selection committee so it can be reviewed.