THE power to declare a security area will rest in the hands of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong under proposed amendments to the National Security Council Act.
The Bill on the amendment was tabled yesterday by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin.
It essentially removes the power of the Prime Minister to declare a security area. The King will hold the right to make such a declaration on the advice of the National Security Council.
The Act came under severe criticism when it was passed in 2016.
Some pointed out that it gave the government the power to hold emergency powers without the need to declare an 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 King shall be published in the gazette and laid before both the Dewan Rakyat and 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.
Those in breach of the secrecy obligation was liable to a maximum of two years’ jail, 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 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 his or her possession, in the interest of national security.
Any individual or entity that fails to comply with such a request has committed an offence and is 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 who is a company, limited liability partnership, firm, society or other bodies of persons.It also seeks to introduce a section which contains a provision relating to the liability of a person for any act, omission, neglect or default by an employee of the said person, agent of the person or employee of the person’s agent.