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Southeast Asia responds to terrorism with iron fist

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Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak gained sweeping security powers through the new National Security Council Act.   © Reuters

SINGAPORE -- Southeast Asian countries are introducing sweeping measures to expand government powers in the name of cracking down on terrorism, spurring criticism that the policies are mere tools to silence opponents.

Malaysia on Aug. 1 instituted the National Security Council Act, expanding the authority of the military and police. The security council, chaired by Prime Minister Najib Razak, is empowered to declare a state of emergency anywhere in the country without parliament deliberation. Under such a declaration, security forces could search houses and make arrests without a warrant.

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