KUALA LUMPUR: Proposed amendments to the National Security Council (NSC) Act will remove the powers of the Prime Minister to declare a security area.
The powers will now rest in the hands of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, on the advice of the Council, once the amendments are approved.
These are among the proposed amendments under the National Security Council (Amendment) Bill tabled by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin on Tuesday (April 9).
The NSC Act had come under severe criticism, as many were concerned over the powers given to the Prime Minister to declare a security area when it was passed in 2016.
Some pointed out that it gave the government to hold emergency powers without the need to declare emergency under Article 150 of the Federal Constitution, as it would usurp the authority of the King.
The Bill proposes that any declaration and the renewal of a declaration made by the Agong shall be published in the gazette and laid before both the Dewan Rakyat ad Dewan Negara.
There is also a proposal to amend Section 37 on obligations of secrecy of those serving in the council, or its committees during or after his or her tenure of employment.
Previously, those who breach the secrecy obligation would be liable to a maximum two years' jail term, RM100,000 fine, or both.
The Bill now proposes to increase the jail term to five years.
The Bill also seeks to amend Section 21 of the Act, which provides for the power of the Council's director of operations to request from any individual or entity, other than a government entity, on any information or intelligence that is in possession.
"The power of the director of operations shall be exercised in the interest of national security and in relation to a security area," read the Bill.
Any individual or entity that fails to comply with such a request from the director of operations commits an offence and be liable to a fine of not more than RM100,000 or five years' jail, or both.
The Bill also seeks to introduce a new section, which contains the provision relating to offences committed by any person, or a company, limited liability partnership, firm, society or other body of persons.
Prior to the May 9 general election, Pakatan Harapan had pledged to repeal several oppressive laws if it came to power.
The NSC Act were among the Acts that it pledged to repeal.