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Sunday, October 16, 2016


Lukman Sheriff, Tanjak

I refer to the article ‘Time for people to reclaim the Constitution, says Negri prince‘ in FMT yesterday.
With due respect to YM Tunku Zain, the founding president of Ideas, his proposal to introduce constitutional preamble to resolve conflicting interpretational issues, though appearing beneficial, is misguided, misconceived and laced with an ulterior motive of promoting a partisan agenda.
The proposal fails to recognise the extreme interpretation of our constitution by the left leaning segment of our society comprising among others the NGO which YM Tunku Zain heads, Ideas, and G25 which time and again had their interpretation rejected by the highest court in the land.
The left segment of our society has failed to understand and appreciate that our constitution is a product of a social compromise and thus have misguidedly misinterpreted our constitution as promoting a certain idealism, namely liberalism and secularism.
In order to promote this, they have countless of times, for example, refused to acknowledge the role of Islam as laid out in our constitution which has led to many unnecessary public altercations and legal challenges.
For instance when groups like G25 promoted the liberal concept that personal sins cannot be criminalized, such assertion not only runs contrary to the many express provisions in our constitution empowering the State to prescribe such offences on Muslims and establishing Syariah courts to enforce the same, but they are also against a longstanding legacy of laws predating the constitution since the period of our greatest empire — Kesultanan Melaka.
Similarly with those promoting the liberal concept of secularism. They do not want to recognise that our constitution expressly provides powers to the states to enact religious laws and establish various state religious institutions to undertake religious functions and conduct which affect the majority of the population.
Though these are clearly against the very concept of secularism separating “the state and the church”, they still insist that our constitution should be wholly secular and creating, once again, fissure within our society.
As a result of their misconceived and misguided interpretation of the constitution above, the left had made a number of legal challenges to various laws and actions on the grounds of their being unconstitutional, and which our highest court has time and again rejected.
The failure of YM Tunku Zain to illustrate these as examples is telling, and his failure to disclose the motivation of Ideas shows an ulterior motive of the proposal to push for the rejected extreme interpretation.
The proposal further lacks clarity in thought when YM Tunku cites a wrong example. The National Security Act he cited is not unconstitutional. Its scope of powers is in similar fashion and breath to the longstanding Public Order (Preservation) Act.
The NSC Act is not similar to the powers of emergency under the Constitution which allows the suspension of the legislature. Here the NSC does not have such powers.
Although it’s a fair argument to argue that the NSC is draconian, nonetheless to argue that it is unconstitutional is highly misplaced. To cite this as an example in the preamble proposal only illustrates a confused interpretation of the constitution by the proposer.
It is with due respect that even though I am open to the idea of a preamble, the proposal is highly misguided and misconceived.

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