Malaysia PM defends disputed new security laws

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Malaysia policeMalaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak defended controversial new security laws due to take effect on August 1, in a statement calling for “greater action against terrorism.”

He said on July 27 that the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, Special Measures against Terrorism in Foreign Countries Act, Prevention of Terrorism Act and National Security Act were introduced “following requests from the security forces”, in response the growing number of “terrorist outrages around the world”.

In fact, the laws will give Najib substantially more power by allowing him to designate “security areas” where he can deploy forces to search any individual, vehicle or premise without a warrant. Under the new powers, investigators also will not have to hold formal inquests into killings by the police or armed forces in those areas.

Critics have expressed concerns that the new measures could be used to silence critics of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund scandal.

“The concern among the civil society and others is because the National Security Council can be used against anything that the government is unhappy with,” said Wan Saiful Wan Jan, head of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs. He said it could extend to public rallies.

The laws neither were enacted by the customary royal assent being obtained from Malaysia’s King Abdul Halim, who had asked for some changes to the text.

“We were criticised for passing these laws,” Najib said, adding that critics included “some who fear mongered for political reasons”.

The National Security Act in particular was “deliberately misinterpreted,” he said. Declaring “security zones” and giving authorities the right to search or arrest suspects without a warrant was “not the same as a declaration of national emergency,” Najib said, noting that the power would still lie with the king, and parliament would still retain oversight over any security area declared.

“My government will never apologise for placing the safety and security of the Malaysian people first,” said Najib. “These laws were necessary and other countries have since followed our lead.”

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak defended controversial new security laws due to take effect on August 1, in a statement calling for “greater action against terrorism.”

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Malaysia policeMalaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak defended controversial new security laws due to take effect on August 1, in a statement calling for “greater action against terrorism.”

He said on July 27 that the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, Special Measures against Terrorism in Foreign Countries Act, Prevention of Terrorism Act and National Security Act were introduced “following requests from the security forces”, in response the growing number of “terrorist outrages around the world”.

In fact, the laws will give Najib substantially more power by allowing him to designate “security areas” where he can deploy forces to search any individual, vehicle or premise without a warrant. Under the new powers, investigators also will not have to hold formal inquests into killings by the police or armed forces in those areas.

Critics have expressed concerns that the new measures could be used to silence critics of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund scandal.

“The concern among the civil society and others is because the National Security Council can be used against anything that the government is unhappy with,” said Wan Saiful Wan Jan, head of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs. He said it could extend to public rallies.

The laws neither were enacted by the customary royal assent being obtained from Malaysia’s King Abdul Halim, who had asked for some changes to the text.

“We were criticised for passing these laws,” Najib said, adding that critics included “some who fear mongered for political reasons”.

The National Security Act in particular was “deliberately misinterpreted,” he said. Declaring “security zones” and giving authorities the right to search or arrest suspects without a warrant was “not the same as a declaration of national emergency,” Najib said, noting that the power would still lie with the king, and parliament would still retain oversight over any security area declared.

“My government will never apologise for placing the safety and security of the Malaysian people first,” said Najib. “These laws were necessary and other countries have since followed our lead.”

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