Foraging for Rights to Forge a Nation: Is It Time to Reconstitute the Malaysian Constitution?

In light of the impending proposal to table a new Race Relations Act reported here, conversations on Twitter #RRA #RRA2012 prompted me to search my archives, and post a paper previously published in The Law Review 2008.

The introductory paragraph summarises the paper, and reads as follows:

Fundamental human rights and citizen identity are two indispensable and related features of a constitution and a nation-building project. The critique of this paper is that developments in the judicial interpretation of constitutional rights in Malaysia and government policies with regard to ethnic relations have left gaps in the protection of the individual person and continue to  jeopardise the realisation of national unity. After 50 years, it is imperative that we undertake a second look at the Malaysian Federal Constitution with the  aim of achieving consistency with international human rights values.

The concerns raised in the paper are, to my mind, still valid today. Any law to improve and/or govern race relations would be more credible, and acceptable to all, only if we are also willing and able to tackle the current state of affairs regarding race-based discrimination from two perspectives: first, our rights under the Constitution, and second, the impact of Executive-driven national policies in place. The paper may be downloaded here.

In the course of the conversations on Twitter, it came to my attention – thank you @choows – that @seademon had written a rebuttal blog post in respect of my tweets here. This was my reply to the post on Twitter:

@seademon Wow! #RRA Nice for you to turn my tweets into a rebuttal post.

@seademon #RRA My reply simply: 1. Appreciate if u reproduce all thread of my tweets for context & accuracy.

@seademon #RRA 2. I made st in reply to @choows tweet that 153 is not discriminatory but misinterpreted by people.

@seademon #RRA 3. Our views differ on impact of Reid Commission recommendations and we leave it as that.

@seademon #RRA 4. I also stated in thread of my tweets am speaking about legal aspects of proposed Bill. But tq fr yr post.

On the question of history regarding the Reid Commission’s role (alluded to by @seademon), with respect, I would encourage anyone interested to make reference to my paper particularly at pages 236 – 239 and 244 – 249 for a brief account of the same.

Tags: , , , ,

Life's a sufferance. Lawyering a bore. As Edmund continues various escape techniques to be rid of Lord Bobo’s influence, he crusades with UndiMsia! movers to build strange youth love movements around the country. And so he tweets @edmundbon and practises the black magic art of advocacy at

Posted on 30 December 2011. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

Read more articles posted by Edmund Bon Tai Soon.

Read this first: LB Terms of Use