The Constitution of Malaysia

A Contextual Analysis

By Andrew Harding

At independence in 1957, Malaysia's constitution was set along the lines of the Westminster model, embracing federalism and constitutional monarchy. That it has endured is explained in terms of the social contract agreed upon between the leaders of the three main ethnic groups (Malay, Chinese, and Indian) before independence. However, increasing ethnic tension erupted in violence in 1969, after which the social contract was remade in ways that contradicted the basic propositions of the 1957 Constitution. The outcome was an authoritarian State that implemented affirmative action in an attempt to orchestrate rapid economic development and more equitable distribution. In recent years, constitutionalism - as enshrined in the 1957 Constitution, but severely challenged during the high-authoritarianism of Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad's development state - has become increasingly relevant once again. However, conflict over religion has replaced ethnicity as a source of discord. This book examines the Malaysian approach to constitutional governance in light of waning authoritarianism and continuing inter-communal strife, and it explains the ways in which a supposedly doomed colonial text has come to be known as 'our constitution.' The book will be an extremely useful, introductory reference point for students studying Malaysian constitutional law or comparative constitutional law. (Series: Constitutional Systems of the World)


290 pages

Publication Date: 7/27/2012
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781841139715