Tuesday 25 July 2017

Zaid Ibrahim : We are all too familiar with the concept of national security and national interest in this country: they are whatever the PM says they are.

JULY 19, 2017 Zaid Ibrahim
Message to Pakatan Leaders
Now that there is structure and organisation within Pakatan Harapan, I take this opportunity to invite Harapan leaders to deliberate and consider this scenario, which I think will probably happen, so that the people of this country can be guided as to what to do if certain events were to occur.
The Prime Minister has already said that he would do whatever it would take to defend the country, the Malay race and Islam. I read that to mean that he considers himself and UMNO as indispensable, and that he is the sole defender of the country, the Malay race and Islam.
If the results of the 14th General Election do not favour the Prime Minister and UMNO (and that’s also probable), what do you think he will do? He has a weapon that no one else has: the National Security Act 2016.
First, we know he completely controls the National Security Council, which was created under the Act, and which took effect in 2016. The Council can declare an emergency and appoint anyone as Director of Operations of a security area.
This Director of Operations takes full operational control of the area, including the deployment of security forces and administrative personnel. The Director of Operations has absolute power to perform any task that relates to “national security”. He can direct any government entity to follow his instructions.
We are all too familiar with the concept of national security and national interest in this country: they are whatever the PM says they are. For example, if the Prime Minister wants the director of military intelligence (who, as stated in the Sarawak Report, allegedly received a few million ringgit from the Prime Minister before the last election) to be the director of a security area, then this Director—not the Chief of the Armed Forces or the Inspector-General of Police—will be the supremo of the security apparatus.
The traditional chain of command of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Police are in tatters, broken by this new National Security Act. The Prime Minister now has total control over these institutions because he can select the Director of Operations of his choice.
We also know that once the Prime Minister and the National Security Council declare an area as a security area, the declaration will be valid for six months and can be renewed indefinitely thereafter. The only way the declaration can be revoked is by agreement of both the Dewan Rakyat and the Dewan Negara, which would be non-existent once Parliament is dissolved.
Even if the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara were not dissolved, it’s inconceivable for both Houses to revoke a declaration issued by the Prime Minister. This means the declaration of emergency will be valid for as long as the Prime Minister wants.
I believe it is important for Pakatan leaders to prepare the country for that eventuality. In fact, to ensure his victory, it is possible for the Prime Minister to declare certain areas under emergency rule before the General Election is called. For example, if he declares Sabah, Johor and Kedah as security areas, he could even get the Director of Operations to conduct the election in those three states.
The Director is after all required “to perform such other tasks or functions as directed by the Council”. He is empowered to direct any government entity including the Election Commission to do or not do whatever he wants.
Voters might be allowed to vote but under different conditions and rules. The director could even change the way votes are counted in a security area. He could do almost anything he wants.
What I am trying to convey to Pakatan leaders is that they should start deliberating and planning for this eventuality. They could, for example, challenge the National Security Act in the courts. We know what the outcome will be but it is still worthwhile to do so as this will enable Pakatan leaders to explain the ramifications of the law to the public.
The Prime Minister will do everything under the sun to ensure victory in the coming election, and if the result does not favour him, it’s not inconceivable that he will also use the National Security Act to keep him in power post-election.
I will only discard this belief if the Prime Minister categorically declares that he will not use the emergency powers under the Security Act “to manage the coming elections” and that he has no plan to thwart the wishes of the people of this country.
He has to affirm that he will allow a democratically-elected government to take power even if the BN loses in the coming election. If he can make this declaration, then the people of this country can sleep better, and so can I

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