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KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Rakyat today passed the Jurisdictional Immunities of Foreign States Bill 2023, which among others, seeks to regulate the immunity conferred upon a foreign state and its property, the head of state and the head of government of a foreign state from the jurisdiction of the court of Malaysia.

Eleven MPs spoke during the debate on the bill, which was passed by a voice vote.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the Prime Minister’s power in Clauses 30, 32 and 33, is limited to withdraw, exempt and make related regulations with immunity granted to a foreign state only, without touching any immunity in relation to head of government or head of state.

She said the exemption of the immunities was a consequential reactive action if Malaysia did not receive similar treatment from the foreign state.

“The Prime Minister, as the chairman of the 12-member Foreign State Immunity Council has been given the mandate in accordance with the law to collectively consider this matter which is technical and operative, which is fit for an executive member.

“Therefore, it is not a decision made by the Prime Minister alone,“ she said when winding up the debate on the bill.

According to Azalina, the bill was also presented and consented to by the Conference of Rulers on Oct 25 and 26 last year in accordance with Clause (5) Article 159 read together with Clause (4) Article 38 of the Federal Constitution.

She added that the bill should not be treated similarly to the National Security Council Act 2016 (Act 776).

“The bill does not touch on national sovereignty but instead involves the immunity (of foreign states) in Malaysian courts so that we can have immunity in foreign courts,” she said.