The Malaysian Defence Ministry will meet next week to review a draft Bioweapons Bill aimed at implementing safeguards in compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention and improving national security against biological and chemical threats.
Minister of Defence Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the draft will be referred to the Attorney-General’s Chambers sometime “after the general election” and before the end of the year.
The Malaysian Ministry of Defence’s Science and Technology Research Institute for Defence (STRIDE) Director General Dr. Abdul Ghaffar Ramli said the primary purpose of the bill is to ensure no party will be able to make, or harbor biochemical materials in Malaysia with the intention of using them for mass harm. The bill would provide for stronger inspection and licensing control standards for laboratories operating in the country.
“There is a world concern about the proliferation of biological weapons. This is seen as a poor-man’s weapon of mass destruction as the equipment to create these weapons are becoming cheaper and smaller,” said Ramli. “So we have to create a law here to say that nobody is allowed to assist or create such biological materials for the use of warfare or mass destruction.”
Malaysia has been a signatory to the Biological Weapons Convention since 1972, but the Convention has not seen a great involvement from Malaysia. The bill is seen as a significant step in facilitating better safeguards of hazardous biological materials for the region.