Chairman Najib makes his NSC debut by Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, August 03, 2016
“Any excuse will serve a tyrant.”
Malaysiakini : COMMENT | I feel bad for DAP
Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua concerning his recent run-in with the
Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). These days,
referring to Prime Minister Najib Razak as Malaysian Official Number 1
could get you into trouble. The last time I wrote about the honourable
gentleman from PJ Utara I took a swipe at his rhetoric about the twin
by-elections and made the claim of how a win or a loss would change very
As I said, Najib should resign but will not.
“Najib loyalists are wallowing in the fact that Najib’s authoritarian
measures ensures his political stability because there are no democratic
or legitimate means to oust him from office. What is left are the
internal mechanism of Umno which has been greased by the ‘cash is king’
In a recent New York Timespiece
about the untouchability of Najib and the unnamed plotters who had
asked for his resignation, Pua is reported as saying, “They took it for
granted that he was a sitting duck. He turned the tables on them.” From the same article, here is a description of our current prime
minister: “The bank transfers are not the first scandal to threaten the
career of Mr Najib, 63, one of America’s most important allies in
Southeast Asia. Over the years, he has been accused of having ties to a
murder, taking kickbacks from the purchase of military hardware and
helping concoct a criminal prosecution against a rival.
“He has deployed the formidable powers of his office to impede
investigations, silence critics, block media outlets and maintain the
backing of his largely rural, Muslim base. He has deftly played
Malaysia’s brand of money politics, distributing cash to buy party
leaders’ loyalty. “As prime minister, he oversees Parliament, the cabinet, the police
and the intelligence branch. As president of the governing party, he
decides who holds key leadership positions and sits atop a vast
patronage system that affects the wealth and livelihood of thousands of
A couple of days ago the National Security Council (NSC) Act 2016
came into force. Did anyone besides the usual suspects bother to read
the bill? Did anyone really care? When the Act came into force, a BBC
newscaster asked a local pollster if there was any opposition to it and
the response was that they were concerns raised by “civil society”
because of the dodgy record of the Umno regime. How quaint I thought.
Any impartial security expert local or regional can assure the
Malaysian public that there are adequate laws already in existence to
handle the threat of terrorism. There is no need for any kind of a
security council to facilitate information sharing or security areas,
all of which are governed under various other security laws.
The irony, or maybe just the incompetence of this regime’s various security apparatus, is that the IGP concurs
with this sentiment and said, “The National Security Council (NSC) Act
will not be used to fight crime or militant group Islamic State (IS).
This is because enforcement authorities have enough laws to manage
crime” - which is in direct contradiction to what Najib said (especially
with regards to Islamic terrorism) which is why amongst various other
Acts, the NSC Act was created.
An audacious play of tyrant-hood
Reading the description in the New York Times, all fairly
well-documented by the Malaysian alternative media, it really seems that
the Act changes nothing except giving the prime minster a new title.
From the bill: “The Council shall consist of the following members: (a)
the Prime Minister as Chairman…”
However the reality is, that besides a fancy title, this Act
redefines the powers of the executive and it is not hyperbolic to claim,
that with this Act, we are no longer just a third world country or
developing country or whatever other nonsensical nomenclature that
economist like to use, but rather a dictatorship, which the New York Times
reports Donald Greenlees, an authority on Southeast Asia with
Australian National University as saying “[Najib] is a throwback to the
era of Marcos’s Philippines and Suharto’s Indonesia with ruling families
hungry for power and great wealth,” he said. “Imelda had her shoes and
Rosmah has her Birkin bags. But the bags are vastly more valuable than
“Why aren’t people protesting on the streets?” an American friend
(and registered Republican) asked during a marathon group call with
other foreign friends. “Because they are used to laws that most
Westerners would find oppressive” chimed a British expatriate and
“because these types of laws are the logical extension of our colonial
legacy to sustain hegemony,” I said.
"I don't know (about the Act). Because I feel it has nothing to do with me," was a response in a Malaysiakinistreet survey and indeed this sentiment is far too common, not only in supposedly educated urban polities but in rural constituencies.
The opposition for obvious reasons made the 1MDB scandal the focus of
their efforts in the removal of Najib. However, it was a mistake not to
galvanise the public when it came to this Act. I do believe that the
reason for not opposing this Act as overtly as possible is cultural and
religious in nature. Jailed opposition leader Anwar’s attempt
at filing an “originating summons” seeking to declare the NSC Act
unconstitutional is too little too late. There should have been a
massive outcry by the opposition and its supporters working in tandem
with any interested group to voice the public discontent before the
passing of this Act.
PKR vice-president Tian Chua is right when he says that the law would
not be passed if there was no intention to use it but as usual little
things like this seem of least concern for the opposition, some of whom
have been subjected to such draconian laws.
Indeed, I argued that the NSC Act would have far deeper implications
for the future of this country than the 1MDB scandal. We have had
numerous financial scandals over the years involving billions of
ringgit, from the Perwaja fiasco, to the Bumiputra Malaysia Finance
(BMF) imbroglio to the Port Klang Free Zone scandal. Scandals are a
plenty with Umno.
However, this new law is perhaps the most audacious play of
tyrant-hood by a sitting Umno prime minster. Not only has he militarised
Umno, he has done it with very little resistance from the Malaysian
polity. Chairman Najib has always had the power of the state to disrupt
democratic processes. Everything leading up the allegations by the US
Department of Justice was a pantomime of accountability by the Malaysian
government but in reality was a whitewash of farcical propositions.
While Chairman Najib assured the public that “the new law is not the
same as a declaration of a national emergency, a power which he assured
all still remains with the Agong,” he shrugged “off a request by the
Conference of Rulers for it to be refined.” What we have here is an instrument that legalises oppression. The
unmitigated gall of this regime, or any regime of this type, is to
assure us it is for our own good.
The last page and the last paragraph of the Bill I read, under the
heading of ‘Financial implications’ states: “This Bill will involve the
Government in extra financial expenditure the amount of which cannot at
present be ascertained.”