KUALA KANGSAR: Former Premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad rubbished any similarity between the National Security Council Act (NSC) to the now abolished Internal Security Act (ISA).
He said ISA, unlike the NSC Act, did not cast aside the Conference of Rulers and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, but instead was approved by them.
“ISA could be enforced as the Agong, at the time, declared a state of emergency. Or else we wouldn’t be able to enforce it.
“As for NSC, although the Agong rejected it, it’s still being implemented,” said Mahathir at a press conference after a programme with Amanah here today.
Another difference between the two Acts, he added, was that those arrested under the recently approved NSC Act would not be able to take their case to court if their arrests were found to be baseless.
“NSC takes away the Agong’s powers and this differs from ISA where the government is given the power to act by the Agong himself.
“There is no similarity (between the two laws). This (NSC Act) is a legislation introduced by Najib (Prime Minister Najib Razak).”
The NSC Act, tabled in Parliament last year, allows, among others, for the prime minister to chair the National Security Council to declare a state of emergency without having to go through the Agong.
After the Conference of Rulers was briefed on the NSC Bill on Feb 17, it was returned back to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for refinement.
Attorney-General Apandi Ali then said he would review some sections of the Bill while Najib said he had taken note of the Rulers’ suggestions.
On June 7, the Bill became law without royal assent. According to the gazette, the bill was declared as assented on Feb 18, under Clause 4(a) of Article 66 of the Federal Constitution
This clause states that a bill becomes law 30 days after it is presented to the Agong, even without his assent.
The date when the Act will become operational will be determined by the PM later. Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz said there was nothing to stop the government amending the Act later in Parliament, if need be.
This has resulted in a public uproar and Mahathir, too, was heavily criticised for amending the Constitution to allow for a bill to be gazetted without royal assent.
Dr Mahathir said: “The law was amended because we felt the problem then was the Rulers.
“It appears now that the Rulers are not the problem but Najib has deviated by administrating like (former Uganda dictator) Idi Amin,” said Mahathir in defence of himself.