50 Years of Malaysia. Federalism Revisited by Dr. Andrew J Harding, Dr. James Chin

By Dr. Andrew J Harding, Dr. James Chin

On sixteen September 1963 Malaysia got here into being with the accession of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore to the present Federation of Malaya. This e-book marks the fiftieth anniversary of this awesome occasion in South East Asia's heritage. the point of interest of the booklet may be almost always at the adventure of Sabah and Sarawak as matters of the federation. It appears on the adventure of federalism from a couple of various views, maintaining in brain not only the results of federalism on Sabah and Sarawak but in addition the consequences at the federation as a complete. Has the cut price of 1963 been adhered to? Has Malaysian federalism been a profitable instance of this manner of presidency in Asia, or has the discount been undermined in methods opposite to the unique deal within the Malaysia contract of 1963? What were the sensible results on East Malaysia in the course of 50 years?

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Although this was a criminal provision passed by the federal legislature it dealt with religion and plausibly therefore dealt with a state matter. The Supreme Court (now called the Federal Court) decided, by a majority of three to two, that the acts prohibited by the section had nothing to do with public order, a federal matter, but were directly concerned with religion. All five judges were agreed on the test to be applied: it is the substance and not the form or outward appearance of the impugned legislation which must be considered ...

This was an international agreement involving the Federation of Malaya, the United Kingdom, and the then colonies of Singapore, North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak. It needed to be effected and enforced by constitutional law. Accordingly, amendments were made to the Constitution of the Federation of Malaya of 1957, giving the country a new name and modified constitutional structure taking account of the three new states and their enhanced status, compared with the existing states, within the Federation.

This in our view (but the chapter offers a different view) points to a plausible theory of federalism: in the eyes of Kelantan the state still retained its original sovereignty which could not be subsumed under an entity it had not agreed to. If one looks at Malayan history it is in our view hard to refute this argument even though the case did not succeed in the courts. Because of the inherent tensions in a federal system it is also difficult to maintain a federation in a state of stability. It can easily succumb to the assertion of central, federal power, dissolving in practice the elements of autonomy that are guaranteed legally but are subsumed in a political imperative that draws power towards the centre.

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