This Forum Perdana co-organized by OPs4A and Ohmsi Sdn Bhd on 10th March 2018 rhetorically asks the question, especially after 1963, whether the federal constitution, which in Article 4 declares itself supreme, does actually remain SUPREME; under all different dimensions and definitions.
I will explain my 7 questions using simple rationality and logic:
- The Federal Constitution of Malaya, and then Malaysia in 1963, predates the nation’s very existence almost by definition. When the Merdeka was declared by Tunku Abdul Rahman, signalling the birth of Malaya; the Federal Constitution already existed and was already legislated by the very institutions which gave it the powers to do so!
- Those social agreements made by political parties of the Alliance Party, and forerunner to Barisan Nasional, are now called the Social Contract of Malaysia. They allowed citizenship rights to migrants in return for some limited privileges, which were also agreed to and documented, in historical records! These were however NOT explicitly contained in the Malaysia Agreement, or agreed to by Sabahans and Sarawakians.
- The supremacy of the Federal Constitution declared in Article 4 can also be deemed to mean or include “matters of religious faith” which cannot be ever be made a matter of public agreement. Therefore these must always remain a private or family matter! Public aspects are those ruled so by the Conference of Rulers.
- When Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore (as British Colonial States) came together with Malaya to form Malaysia, were there not four core units of membership, and not 13 or 14 states, as per the usual assumptions by most in the Federation of Malay States?
- If Pakatan Harapan promises to review the Malaysia Agreement of 1963, and so has the Chief Minister of Sarawak, who or what will constitute the membership of such a review? Are these then matters of historical accuracy and discourse, or, only a matter of Malayan or Malaysian resolution, but without an international dimension to that review?
- If the days of two-thirds majority in Parliament are over, as per the total vote counts in last two GEs, is it reasonable to assume that any serious new amendment of the Federal Constitution, even to set right wrongs of the past (like assumptions about the time frame of the NEP) would need some International Community or the United Nation, to moderate the new Malaysia Arrangement?
- Finally, in all traditional societies, groups prevail over the individuals and their rights guaranteed by the UNHR Declaration. Whether it is Israel or Myanmar, similar issues are at stake for minority groups or ethnicities, what then is the modern idea and concept of space for personal belief as opposed to a religious conviction imposed compulsorily by external forces of authority?
In conclusion, it will always remain a matter of human dignity and personal space of human conscience which defines our personal humanity! If we give up such meaning of human freedom; I am not sure what it means to be human anymore!