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When the Federal Constitution is overused, it becomes useless

May 3, 2017

Honourable people seek enduring, everlasting principles in the consitution while treacherous people search for exceptions to satisfy partisan or parochial desires.

COMMENT

istana-kehakiman-malaysia-putrajaya-mahkamah-courtBy TK Chua

The Federal Constitution has become the most cited document in recent times, sometimes I think even more often than holy books.

Many have cited the constitution to ask for greater freedom, liberty and equality. Many more cite the same document to stifle, curtail and limit the rights of others.

They have a field day interpreting and claiming that the constitution is on their side. As if this is not enough, some have even demanded that a preamble in the form of the Rukun Negara be added to the constitution.

When the constitution is overused, it could most probably become useless. It is then no longer the spirit of the constitution that is working.

It is how we take individual provisions/articles in the constitution and interpret them out of context to suit our political leaning, partisan sentiment or parochialism.

Power, not the constitution, becomes the dominant force governing our system of government.

I am not a lawyer or a constitutional law expert. But I believe the constitution must serve the common people and give meaning to “the overall system” we uphold.

What, in essence, is Malaysia made of based on our constitution in totality? Is Malaysia a single-tier “unified” country? Is Malaysia a dictatorship? Is Malaysia a theocracy?

Which part do we not understand if I say Malaysia, in essence, is a federation of states, a parliamentary democracy, a constitutional monarchy, and a secular government based on separation of power, rule of law and basic freedom and liberty?

Which part do we not understand if I say the government of the day must account to the people its performance or lack of it?

If the government does not have to account to the people between elections, why then do we have periodic Parliament sittings, Public Accounts Committee, MACC, and the office of the Auditor-General established in our system of government? Why not disband them and save some money?

How then should we interpret the individual provisions/articles of our constitution if not based on the above overarching principles?

How does democracy work if government leaders do not have to account for their shortcomings, notwithstanding whatever individual provisions in the constitution that could provide them with such an excuse?

Also, how did another legal system creep into our administration of justice when the highest law-making body in the country, the Parliament, is entrusted only to make civil laws and the highest court of the land, the Federal Court, is a civil court?

There are many things I don’t seem to understand. But this little I know, when honourable people are in doubt, they search for enduring and everlasting principles to clear their doubt.

On the contrary, the treacherous people will search for exceptions to satisfy their partisan or parochial desires.

The Federal Constitution can’t foresee everything, so it just needs honourable people to uphold it.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

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