The United Nations
Human Rights Office for Southeast Asia
says it is “gravely concerned” that the Malaysian government is to enact a security law that grants it extraordinary emergency powers.
“We are gravely concerned that… the act may encourage human rights violations,” Laurent Meillan, the officer-in-charge of the UN
office, said in a statement on Friday.
Meillan said the law, which will come into force on August 1, could lead to “unjust restrictions” on free speech and the right of assembly.
“We call on the government to revise the act to bring it in line with international human rights norms and standards.”
The administration of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak pushed the parliament to approve the National Security Council Act in December 2015.
The act enables the National Security Council headed by Razak to declare martial law in areas of the country determined to be under security threat. The law will also grant authorities permission to suspend the civil rights of citizens, as well as sweeping powers of search, seizure and arrest.
Razak’s critics say the scandal-hit premier enacted the law to crack down on any move against his government.
The 1MDB scandal
The Malaysian prime minister, who is said to be behind a massive financial scandal, has stifled his critics at home by scuttling investigations, and arresting whistleblowers and journalists.
The photo taken on July 8, 2015, shows a motorist riding past a sign at the construction site of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (AFP)
There are allegations that the investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or the 1MDB, which the Malaysian premier founded and oversaw, was looted on a massive scandal over several years. Authorities in several countries are investigating the claim.
Last week, the US Justice Department launched moves to seize more than USD 1 billion in assets it says were purchased with money stolen from the 1MDB.
Najib and the 1MDB deny any wrongdoing in the scandal, but the detailed filings of the US Justice Department include accusations that a high-ranking Malaysian government official, apparently the prime minister himself, conspired in the theft along with his associates, including his stepson.