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Malaysia Advancing Work on Anti-Bioweapons Bill

Malaysian legislation to prohibit development and stockpiling of biological weapons within the nation has been drafted and is to be presented for government feedback next week, the Sun Daily newspaper reported (see GSN, July 19, 2011).

The domestic legislation is to be examined in a Defense Ministry hearing on Tuesday.

"We will be going into the details (of the bill) and seek opinions from the related agencies and parties. It has been drafted, now it's the feedback stage," Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said in an interview without going into the specifics of the legislation.

The Bioweapons Bill is to be submitted to the Attorney General's Chambers "after the general election," which should come before 2012 is over, Zahid said.

Defense Ministry Science and Technology Institute for Defense Director General Abdul Ghaffar Ramli earlier spoke on the matter.

"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," Ghaffar said "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."

Should the legislation be adopted as law, scientific laboratories, including those at universities, would be checked for the potential presence of forbidden disease agents. Some facilities could be audited or required to obtain operating certificates, according to Ghaffar.

Though Malaysia signed the Biological Weapons Convention in 1972, until now there has not been much engagement by the Southeast Asian nation with the international anti-bioweapons regime (Pauline Wong, Sun Daily, April 24).

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