Is it time to let go of our Constitution?

By Lingswaran Singh

Starting with the Perak Mufti’s now infamous remark about a “new Constitution”, then rebutted by Professor Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, a LoyarBurokker today flies us on a hot-air balloon, LB-styled. The courts have consistently ignored the Constitution and failed to uphold many of its protective provisions. The people have suffered. Is the Malaysian Federal Constitution a Document of Tyranny or one of Salvation? Is it time to let go of a Constitution which continues to protect only the elite and powerful?

Document of Tyranny or Salvation?

Document of Tyranny or Salvation?

Back in 1956, a constitutional conference was held in London. It was attended by Tunku Abdul Rahman, three other ministers, four representatives of the Malay Rulers, and by the British High Commissioner in Malaya and his advisers.

A Commission headed by Lord William Reid, and consisting of constitutional experts from Commonwealth countries was appointed by the Queen and the Malay Rulers (Reid Commission).

The Constitution of Malaya was drafted on the advice of the Reid Commission which conducted a study in 1956. The Constitution came into force on 27 August 1957.

The Constitution of Malaya (with significant amendments) was used as the basis for the Constitution of Malaysia when Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore merged to form Malaysia in 1963. This so-called “document of destiny”, per Professor Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, has been the supreme law of Malaysia ever since.

I am not a big fan of the Federal Constitution.

It was a document devised to protect the interests of the elite and the royalty of Malaya, and one of compromise between the British and Malay rulers for the economic benefit of the British. It represents an insult to human dignity and intelligence.

A “document of tyranny”, the Constitution tells us how many Members of Parliament and senators we can have, the levels of government, the election periods, the role of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and provides other lame guarantees of individual rights.

This document did not come from the people of Malaya; it came from the very people who colonised us.

Some say it is a symbol of our independence; the question is, when have we ever been dependent?

And it can never be a symbol of freedom. Ironically, it is a document which propagates the ideas of the elite that we have enslaved ourselves to.

Power to the elite only?

Power only to the elite?

I subscribe to the opinion of Justice Learned Hand of the US Supreme Court that liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; and when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it.

Freedom is not something you gain; it is something that you are born with.

We need no recognition to be free; we just need not be enslaved.

As the wise Jean Jacques Rousseau said, “Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains”, and so are we, to the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, 1957.

Many Malaysians fiercely protect the Federal Constitution, giving it unreasonable credit for various purposes, not knowing that it is the most abused document of law in Malaysia. A tool which legitimises any act of the Executive, be it right or wrong.

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