The NSC bill, does or does not the country need it?

The national security is of paramount important for any country. All countries have to find a way to ensure its national security is intact, secured, and guaranteed. Military capability is fundamental to uphold the sovereignty of a nation, but there is no guarantee that this alone is adequate. Small nations with bigger and powerful neighbours that have better military and economic potentials than they do will always entertain the notion that they are going to be overrun any day.

To avoid the possibility of open military conflicts or skirmishes with neighbours, countries around the world form military alliances or economic and security understandings. NATO countries and ASEAN countries are clear examples respectively of these forms of alliances and associations among nations.

But a country’s sovereignty and security are also threatened from within. The extrinsic threat is of course coming from without.

But what does a nation do with the intrinsic threat to its national sovereignty and security? How will a nation deal with the subversive or the intrusive elements that originate within its border?

What to do with the behaviours, the attitudes, the ideas, the principles, the concepts, the conducts, the systems of belief, and so on that are against the national interests and therefore, are capable of threatening and undermining the country’s sovereignty and security?

Different countries deal with these issues differently but all countries have some kinds of emergency powers to protect the national interests, and hence to ensure their national security.

As a country, Malaysia is no different. For 3 decades after 1948, the country was under some forms of emergency, and for 2 years (1969-1971) within that period, it was ruled by the National Security Council (NSC). The National Parliament was suspended during that time.

Malaysia received a lot of criticisms from all quarters about the way it handled the aftermath of the racial riots of 1969. There was no question that the NSC resorted to the authoritarian measures to maintain the security of the country and the safety of its people. But power was reverted back to the country’s parliament in 1971, and since then Malaysia has never failed to hold its general elections, as and when it is allowed by the laws.

As already been mentioned, a national security can be threatened by many things like by the behaviours of its citizens, and by their attitudes, ideas, principles, concepts, conducts, systems of belief, and so on.

The obvious one is the military threat from outside the country. Inside the country, a military coup is a notable example, as Turkey has experienced in the last 2 weeks. Citizen’s uprising is another one.

But the national security can also be threatened silently. Even evading and avoiding paying taxes can impact on the national security. What will happen if no one is willing to pay all those taxes? How will the country be able to employ security and defence personnel like the police and the army?

Even indiscriminate increase in the prices of goods and service can threaten the national security. Inflation can and does impact on the national security. Air pollution, just to name another factor, can also threaten the national security.

Some people are talking about their human rights, civil rights, and legal rights, but in their effort to uphold these rights, they may trample on or violate the human rights, civil rights and the legal rights of the other people. A lot of the people may think that they are immune to the law and can do as they please. This also is not good for the country.

Any country, for instance, needs the laws relating to trade, prices and profits margins. Good behaviour and practices in these areas are highly encouraged, but unscrupulous behaviour and practices of the proprietors can also threaten national security.

Globalisation and liberalisation policy has encouraged unprecedented movements of people, goods and services across borders. While some of the people that enter our borders, some of the goods that are brought into the country, and some of services that are provided inside the country by outsiders are crucial to the country’s development, some of them are useless and detrimental to the country’s growth and progress.

The NSC was disbanded in 1971, but was re-installed in 1974, and in 2015, the government passed the NSC Bill.

The Bill caused a lot of displeasure, dissatisfaction, and distrust of the government among many concerned citizens. Part of the reason for this is the perceived draconian nature of the Act.

Why is the government establishing the Act?

The country needs peace, order and good government, but is the Act valid for dealing with a national emergency. Or, is it a valid Act to be used to tackle the problems of pestilence and insurrection, for example.

A national emergency is like a war in a sense that when the country is undergoing this experience, it is always on the alert militarily. Is this an implied power in parliament to deal with the situation?

The action to be taken by the government in imposing the Act must be justified. It must be done in the public interest, and not in any other forms of interest.

Has the Act a rational basis to be enacted? Has parliament the rights to intervene? Is parliament entitled to this exercise? And if it is to be imposed, should it not operate within the constitution?

Or, is it just a temporary measure to deal with the unfavourable ideas, etc, which requires this intervention from the parliament?

The NSC is found at all levels of the government. How do we ensure that the local officers are well-versed about the Act and do not discharge the law as they please?

All public policies must have some elements of national security and public safety in them. But the NSC Act is much bigger than the normal public policies that also take into consideration the public interests.

But then should not we look at it through its operation. Should not also we look at it through the scales of its effect? Or, should not we look at it from its ultimate purpose, and ask whether it is valid enough for all to be able to embrace it?

I put all of this to you all; should we have the NSC Act or should we not have it. –