Malaysia’s New National Security Powers

Photo: EPA/Fazry Ismail, selected by Southeast Asia Globe.

I’ve made some comments in the Southeast Asia Globe on Malaysia’s new National Security Council Act. My comments were:

“The powers in the National Security Council act are so wide-ranging that they permit almost any public activity to be construed as a threat to national security, with potentially devastating consequences,” said Amrita Malhi, a researcher on Malaysia based at the University of Adelaide.

Though the act was ostensibly promoted as a response to Islamic terrorism, Malhi told Southeast Asia Globe measures were already in place that allowed the government to prosecute extremists. She added that the act could potentially be used to counter “any challenge to the position of the current government”.

The Australian on Malaysia’s Media Crackdown

Image: The Australian.

The Australian’s Amanda Hodge has published a story quoting my most recent New Mandala piece on Malaysia’s arrest and detention of Four Corners journalist Linton Besser and camera operator Louie Eroglu, along with broader issues of media freedom and public criticism.

Hodge has been doing some excellent work on Malaysia lately.

My quotes are:

Amrita Malhi, a researcher and writer on Southeast Asian politics and history, said Ms Bishop’s decision to frame the Four Corners team’s detention “as an issue of freedom of speech in democracies” secured their release, though the Malaysian government has denied that.

Malaysia still wants to be seen as a democratic nation, notwithstanding recent rollbacks, just as its close ally Australia needs to ­believe that it is.

“In the context of these interconnected interests, Bishop’s statement that democracies should uphold their commitment to freedom of speech has carried sufficient weight to produce a change of heart from the Malaysian government,” Dr Malhi wrote in ANU’s New Mandala.

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