Anwar defends move to keep NSC Act

Anwar Ibrahim speaks at an event at the International Youth Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR: PKR president Anwar Ibrahim said Pakatan Harapan is not opposed to the National Security Council Act 2016, following the government’s decision to table amendments to the Act instead of repealing it as promised by the coalition during last year’s general election.

“There’s a confusion,” Anwar told FMT on the sidelines of the Siswa Guru Kebangsaan 2019 leadership seminar at the International Youth Centre.

“We’re not against the security act but against the manner, the power vested on the prime minister at that time,” said Anwar, who has filed a suit to challenge the constitutionality of the NSC Act which came into force in August 2016.

“Gopal Sri Ram is handling it,” he added.

The government today tabled amendments to the NSC Act, proposing among others to transfer the power to declare security areas from the prime minister to the Agong, and enhance punishments under existing provisions.

The NSC Act was tabled in December 2015, and was passed by both Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara by the year-end.

Critics today have questioned the government for backtracking on its promise to abolish the NSC Act.

Lawyers for Liberty said there can be “no acceptable excuse” for PH to backtrack on “such an important promise involving the fundamental liberties of the rakyat”.

“The amending bill leaves intact the most draconian and dangerous provisions in the NSC Act 2016,” said the group’s adviser N Surendran.

In his suit filed on Aug 2, 2016, Anwar said NSC was unconstitutional as it abolished the need for the Agong’s approval to declare emergencies.

The Federal Court is set to decide on Anwar’s legal challenge on the constitutionality of the Act.