Saturday, December 5, 2015

Constitutional law expert: Challenge NSC in court

The controversial National Security Council Bill seems set to see the light of day judging by its easy passage through Parliament, but it can still be defeated, said constitutional law expert Abdul Aziz Bari.

He said opponents of the bill can still go to the Federal Court as a last resort in the bid to kill the bill.
Abdul Aziz however is hoping that the Senate will either vote it down or at least delay the bill for 12 months.

“It cannot stop the bill, but the 12-month period will allow debate and all sorts of political manoeuvrings to stop the bill,” he told Malaysiakini.

And if the Senate gives its stamp of approval to the bill, which is likely given that the upper House is dominated by the ruling BN, then it is up to the Agong to stop the bill.

“We may have a constitutional crisis should Agong is brave enough to intervene. But it is something legitimate in order to save democracy and constitutionalism,” said Abdul Aziz.

However, should the Agong be reluctant to step in, the last resort would be to challenge the bill in court on constitutional grounds, he added.

The bill - which critics have widely panned - was passed in Parliament on Thursday night on a majority voice vote, 48 hours after it was tabled.

Abdul Aziz said the bill was both a threat and an affront to the parliamentary system of the government, especially the role of the cabinet.

“A beleaguered and minority prime minister could surround himself with his handpicked deputy prime minister and home minister together with the unelected public servants, including the chief secretary and the military and police chief.

“The legitimate decision-makers in the form of cabinet ministers would be sidelined; in this situation the notion of responsible government would have to go as the NSC has all the legal powers."

The NSC might even continue even after the cabinet - essentially the sitting government - has been voted out through a motion of no confidence, Abdul Aziz pointed out.

“To me, NSC is atrocious not because of the wide powers but the impact on the constitutional system where it is the cabinet, and not the NSC, that is central (to democratic governance),” he said.

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