Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Anwar files lawsuit to declare NSC Act unconstitutional

Geraldine Tong     Published     Updated
Former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has filed an originating summons seeking to declare the National Security Council (NSC) Act 2016 unconstitutional, following the act coming into force yesterday.

He is also seeking an injunction to prevent the NSC from exercising its powers under the act pending this case.

"Anwar, as the true leader of the opposition, has come and shown the way forward and the way we have to fight back to get our rights for our country.

"You see, even the Conference of Rulers actually objected; (they) actually asked for a review of the NSC Bill before it was gazetted, but the government didn't pay heed and went ahead.

"So now we have to take action and do something because it's important," Anwar's wife and Opposition Leader Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail told reporters after they filed the summons in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur today.

In his lawsuit, filed by his lawyers N Surendran and Latheefa Koya, Anwar is also seeking for Article 66(4) of the Federal Constitution to be declared unconstitutional.

Latheefa explained that in the original Federal Constitution, Article 66(4) ensured that a law can only be passed with royal assent, but after the amendments in 1983, 1984 and 1994, the check and balance afforded to the rulers has become diluted.

"By the said amendment, Article 66(4) was fundamentally altered from the way in which it read immediately after Merdeka day," the lawsuit states.

Article 66(4) and (4A) now permits a bill to become law 30 days after it is passed, even without royal assent. It then comes into force upon being gazetted.

The NSC Act did not receive express royal assent and was gazetted without amendments, even though the Conference of Rulers said they wanted some of the provisions to be refined.

PKR lawmaker R Sivarasa added that the NSC Act itself was also a violation of the Federal Constitution.

"The key provisions in the constitution providing for emergency powers have been bypassed completely by using the NSC Act.

"So, powers where the monarchy and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, in particular, have a role, where the cabinet has a role, have all been bypassed and all given and concentrated in the hands of the prime minister.

"What we're saying is that that in itself is a violation of the constitution and it violates what we call the basic structure of the constitution, where every institution has a key role and the role of the Agong, as the check and balance, have all been bypassed by this draconian and terrible law," Sivarasa said.

PKR vice-president Tian Chua also pointed out that a law would not be passed if there was no intention to use it.

"We realise that in the future, definitely, the leader will use any excuses to use this NSC Act.
"There's no reason for you to make a law if you don't intend to use it," Tian Chua said.

The NSC Act came into force yesterday, after being passed by both Houses of Parliament in December last year.

This came despite protests from opposition lawmakers and even disagreements from several BN lawmakers.

Critics have expressed concern that the wide powers granted to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak may be abused for purposes other than security matters.

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