Lindsey Ford on Malaysia's New Security Law and the Lack of a 'Silver Bullet' Against Terrorism

Interview on CCTV

ASPI's Director for Asian Security and Richard Holbrooke Fellow, Lindsey Ford, spoke to CCTV in August 2016 about Malaysia's new security law, the National Security Council Act 2016, and the difficulty governments face in balancing security and civil liberties as they attempt to fight terrorism. She argued that "in the post 9/11 era, it is incredibly difficult to thread the needle and find a balance between national security and the imperative to prevent violent extremist attacks, which have become so prevalent, and protecting civil liberties." Ford pointed out that Malaysia, like other Asia-Pacific nations, faces a growing threat from extremism, which has led some to be willing to accept certain curtailments in civil liberties. She cautioned, however, that "you have to be careful that you don't tip the scales too far."

Ford predicted that how well Malaysia secures these two priorities will be determined by how the new security ordinance is implemented. Transparency will be key for Malaysia's counterterrorism efforts, she stated, suggesting that the law can only be successful if "the Malaysian people feel that they have a voice and a role in how their government chooses to address violent extremism. Do they understand it? And is it supported and legitimate in the eyes of the people?" 

Ford cautioned that "There is no silver bullet; there can't be. You have to take a multisector approach when it comes to counterterrorism. That begins with education and counter-radicalization efforts on the front end, through to law enforcement, and intelligence sharing and monitoring." 

Read the full CCTV story here.