Malaysians sign online petition against security bill


More than 21,900 people call on senators not to vote in favor of widely criticized bill already approved by lower house

By P Prem Kumar

KUALA LUMPUR – More than 21,000 people have signed an online petition calling on Malaysia’s Senate to reject a widely criticized security bill that was proved by the lower house of parliament earlier this month.

The petition on had gathered over 21,900 signatures as of Monday to push senators to reject the National Security Council (NSC) Bill, which critics fear would grant Prime Minister Najib Razak full control over the police and military.

The NSC Bill was passed by members of the lower house on Dec. 3, despite heavy protest from opposition lawmakers and civil society groups concerned that it ” would grant powers to the prime minister which are detrimental to the position of the Malaysian King and the Federal Constitution.”

In a recent update to the petition launched on Dec. 5, its anonymous administrator “Rakyat Malaysia” – “Malaysian Citizen” in Malay – called for more signatories as senators are set to begin debating the law this week.

“We must not lose out momentum as the days go past, and we must continue our efforts in sharing information and spreading news about how much harm NSC Bill can do,” Rakyat Malaysia said, adding that supporters could sign several petitions working toward the same goal.

“We encourage all signatories, new and old, to send these emails and letters out, to as many senators as possible,” the update said.

Under the bill, the NSC – which would be chaired by the prime minister – can take charge of the security forces and declare a designated location as a “security area” which is seen as a security risk to the country.

The declared security area would be valid for six months at a time, subject to renewal by the premier.

Security forces will also posses the right to search or arrest without warrant any individual found committing, alleged to have committed, or reasonably suspected of having committed any offenseunder written laws in the security area.

In the case of the NSC Bill passing the Senate, it will have to receive the approval of Malaysia’s king to become law.

If the king declines to sign the bill, it could trigger a constitutional crisis that could see the matter brought before the country’s high court.