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?
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.
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.
Many argue that the actions of the Executive are subject to the scrutiny of the courts of law, the so-called guardians of the Constitution that protect, preserve and defend the Constitution from legislative changes or other attacks. The question remains however: do we even need a Constitution?
Thomas Jefferson said that all men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential and unalienable rights. We have the right of enjoying and defending our lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; that of seeking and obtaining our safety and happiness.
Our fundamental rights are universal in nature, rights so sacred that it is inalienable to us. There is no need for a document to protect these rights.
Has the Federal Constitution of Malaysia done any good in providing for or even protecting these rights? Have the courts stopped the Executive from infringing these rights or have they legitimised the infringements? In my view, the courts have done nothing but legitimise the infringements of civil liberties, which cases such as Stephen Kalong Ningkan, Assa Singh and Karam Singh bear witness.
Clarence Darrow was right when he said, “You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man’s freedom. You can only be free if I am free.”
The current Constitution represents the mindset that is the cause of Malaysia’s inherent problems. We have yet to resolve these problems.
The ultimate resolution is to get rid of this imperialist legacy. Only then will we be truly free as a nation, only then will we be truly united as Malaysians, only then will we be able to appreciate our sovereignty, for it will not be an order imposed upon us, but one that we acknowledge as our own.
We do not need a Constitution to ensure that our rights are guaranteed, we need liberty, we need compassion, we need equality, we need honesty, and most of all we need justice. That is all we need to ensure our rights.
That is all we need for a better Malaysia.
It is time we set ourselves free, it is time we tell ourselves that it is alright to let go of our Constitution.
James Baldwin said, “Freedom is not something that anybody can be given; freedom is something people take and people are as free as they want to be.”
And of course, “It’s only after you’ve lost everything,” Tyler Durden says, “that you’re free to do anything.” (Fight Club)
[But for extraordinary reasons there are those of you who would disagree with me, do follow this excellent Campaign.]
LB: Lingswaran Singh has been a LoyarBurokker since he was 5. He speaks an open but disinterested language, dictated not by passion but that of humanity. Independence is his happiness, and he views things as they are without regard to place or person. His country is the world, and his religion is to do good. He too is an emissary of Lord Bobo Barnabus, tasked to enlighten Malaysians through loyarburok.com, this awesome blawg leading the quest for world domination.