Bill to amend NSC Act retabled

The powers will now rest in the hands of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong once the amendments are approved

pic by BERNAMA

A CONTROVERSIAL bill to amend the National Security Council (NSC) Act has been retabled by the Perikatan Nasional government yesterday after the initial proposed amendment bill by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration was withdrawn last year.

The bill, which proposes to remove the powers of the prime minister (PM) to declare a security area, was tabled for the first reading at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday by de facto Law Minister Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan (picture).

The powers will now rest in the hands of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, on the advice of NSC, once the amendments are approved.

The bill was initially tabled by the PH government in April 2019 before it was withdrawn from the Dewan Rakyat on July 10 based on the need to “relook” into the amendments.

The PH coalition had promised to repeal the Act in the 14th General Election as it had been under severe criticism on concerns over the powers given to the PM to declare a security area when it was passed in 2016.

The latest amendment also proposes that any declaration and the renewal of a declaration made by the Agong shall be published in the gazette and laid before both the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara.

Besides that, Section 18 (4) will also be amended whereby the power to renew the six-month declaration period will be placed in the hands of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, instead of the PM.

The bill also seeks to remove the deputy PM as the deputy chairman of the NSC and to empower the chairman to appoint his deputy from among the members of the NSC.

“This is to further strengthen the membership of NSC,” it added.

Additionally, clause seven of the proposed bill suggests amending Section 37 of Act 776 to increase the term of imprisonment for the offence from two to five years.

Previously, those who breach the secrecy obligation would be liable to a maximum of two years’ jail term, RM100,000 fine, or both.

The bill also seeks to amend Section 21 of the Act, which provides for the power of the NSC’s director of operations to request from any individual or entity, other than a government entity, on any information or intelligence that is in possession.

“The power of the director of operations shall be exercised in the interest of national security and in relation to a security area,” the bill reads.

Any individual or entity that fails to comply with such a request from the director of operations commits an offence and will be liable to a fine of not more than RM100,000 or five years’ jail, or both.

The bill also seeks to introduce a new section, which contains the provision relating to offences committed by any person, or a company, limited liability partnership, firm, society or other body of persons.

The bill is expected to be passed in the current Parliament meeting which ends on Aug 27.