Main provisions in the federal constitution of malaysia



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LESSON 7
MAIN PROVISIONS IN THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION OF MALAYSIA
1.0 Introduction
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
In previous lesson, you learnt that the constitution is the basis of the sovereignty of the country. By now you should have already understood the concept of the Constitution and it supremacy. However, we haven’t gone through yet the main provisions in the Constitution. For your information, there are several provisions which are considered as sensitive and cannot easily be amended. Have you come across all those main provisions? If not, let us see what those main provisions are. This lesson will explain to you those main provisions.
2.0 Learning Outcomes
  1. By the end of the lesson, students should be able to:


  1. Identify the main provisions in the Constitution

  2. Explain the main provisions

  3. Discuss the significance of the main provisions to the country



  1. List of Topics
    1. The Official Language of the Country


    2. The Official Religion of the Federation and Status of other Religions

    3. The Special Rights of the Malay Rulers

    4. The Special Status and Privilege of the Malays and Bumiputras and Rights of the Other Races

    5. The Citizenship

    6. Special Protection for Sabah and Sarawak

    7. The Basic Freedom of the Citizens


4.0 Terminologies
4.1 Lingua Franca

A language used as a common language between speakers whose native languages are different.


4.2 Jawi

The original manuscripts of the Malays


4.3 Prosecution

The prosecuting of someone in respect of a criminal charge


4.4 Jus Soli

A principle that a person's nationality at birth is determined by the territory within which he was born


4.5 Outrage

An extremely strong reaction of anger or indignation



5.0 Topics

5.1 The Official Language of the Country





      1. Presentation

Do you know what the official language of the country is? The official language of the country is Malay language. Article 152 of the Federal Constitution states that national language is bahasa Melayu (Malay language) and the language shall be used for all official purposes and the people are free to learn other languages. It means, even though Malay language is the official language of the country, other languages can be taught and learnt in this country. In fact, the government highly encourages its citizens to learn and master more than one language.


Do you know why Malay language was chosen as the official language of the country? It is related to the history of the usage of the language in this region. For your information, Malay language has become the lingua franca since the time of golden age of the Malay Malacca Kingdom. The language was used by traders from all over the world who came to Malacca for trading activities. In fact, at the time the British colonization, the Non-Federated Malay States (NFMS) had made Malay language as the official language. Interestingly, minutes of government meetings were written in Jawi. Beside the historical part of the language, the struggle and effort of the Malay leaders who fought for the status of the language before independence also cannot be forgotten. They requested from the British government to recognize the language as the official language of the country as it is the language of the original inhabitant of the country that is Malays. The peak of the success in making Malay language as the official language is the establishment of National University of Malaysia (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia) in 1970.
The status of the national language cannot be questioned by all parties in the country. It is stated in the 1971 Constitution Act (amended). Those who question the status of Malay language as the national language could be accused as committing an offence under the Incitement Act 1948 (Akta Hasutan).

5.1.2 Activities


From your observation as a citizen of the country or as a foreigner who has been staying in the country, do you see that the status of Malay language as the national language is appreciated by its citizen? Can you provide any evidence to your answer?

5.2 The Official Religion of the Federation and Status of other Religions
5.2.1 Presentation
Islam is the official religion of the country. It is stated in Part 1, Chapter 3 (1) of the Constitution. However, other religions are allowed to be practiced in peace and harmony in the country (Article 1). The YDPA is the head of Islam at the federal level and head of the religion for the states without a sultan or ruler or Yamtuan Besar Negeri. Meanwhile, sultans or ruler or Yamtuan Besar Negeri is the head of Islam in the state concerned (Article 2).


      1. Activities

From the discussion above, can you list down the states in which the head of Islam is the YDPA?




    1. The Special Rights of the Malay Rulers

5.3.1 Presentation


Do you know what the privileges that the Constitution grants to the YDPA and Malay rulers are? For your information, there several privileges granted by the Constitution to the Malay rulers. Let us see together their privileges in this country:

  1. Cannot be Charged in any Court of Law

What does it mean? It means the YDPA and Malay rulers are immune from any prosecution in any court of law. In Negeri Sembilan, the officials who rule their respective territories such as Undang and Luak are also immune from court action on their conduct.

  1. Order of Priority

The Constitution also states that the YDPA and other Malay rulers are given priority over all subjects in the country starting from the date they ascend the throne. Do you notice the priority given to them on the road?

  1. Rights of Inheritance

A ruler of a state possesses the right to inherit, hold, enjoy and carry out special privileges in his state. It is stated in the Article 71 of the Constitution. However, the rights are determined by the State’s Constitution. Any disputes on inheritance are decided by the authoritative parties and are solved according to provisions in the State Constitution.

  1. No Amendment without the Consent of the Council of Rulers

Any provisions in the Constitution related to Council of Rulers (Majlis Raja-Raja), order of priority and the rights to inherit the throne of the state cannot be amended unless the Council of Rulers approve it. Thus, what we can understand here is that there are no laws in the country that can immediately affect the privileges, status, nobility or greatness of the rulers without the consent of the Council

5.3.2 Activities


Could you find out the other practices of ‘Order of Priority’ given to the Malay rulers in an occasion? List them out.


    1. The Special Status and Privilege of the Malays and Bumiputras and Rights of the Other Races

5.4.1 Presentation


Just now, we discussed about the special rights and privileges of the Malay Rulers. Now, let us see the special status and privileges of the Malays and Bumiputras of Sabah and Sarawak. Before that, who are the Malays and Bumiputras of Sabah and Sarawak? Do you know them?

Article 160(2) of the Federal Constitution defines Malay as someone who:




    1. is a Muslim

    2. habitually speaks the Malay language

    3. practices Malay customs

    4. was born in Malaysia or Singapore before the independent day

    5. whose parents were born in the Malaysia or Singapore

    6. is on domiciled in Malaysia or Singapore on independent day

    7. is descended from someone defined above

While, Article 161A refer to the Bumiputras (indigenous) in Sabah and Sarawak as:




  1. Bisayah

  2. Bidayuh (Land Dayak)

  3. Lugat

  4. Melayu

  5. Penan

  6. Kalabit

  7. Tagal

  8. Kenyah

  9. Bukitan

  10. Iban (Sea Dayak)

  11. Melanau

  12. Murut

  13. Kadayan

  14. Sian

  15. Kayan

  16. Tabun and Ukit

  17. Dusun

  18. Kajang

  19. Lisum.

Those people above deserve their special rights and privileges in this country. Those privileges cannot be questioned by any parties in the country or otherwise, they could be accused as committing an offence under the Incitement Act 1948 (Akta Hasutan). The YDPA is empowered by the Constitution (Article 153) to preserve the special rights of the Malays in the Peninsular. However, His Majesty YDPA cannot revoke the rights of other races and give them to the Malays and the Bumiputras of Sabah and Sarawak.


Below are among the privileges:


  1. The entry quota into the public sector (civil servant) and institutes of higher learning

  2. Scholarships

  3. Opportunities to get business license and permits

Why the Constitution preserves the special rights of the Malays and Bumipurtras of Sabah and Sarawak? What are the rationales behind the preservation? Actually, the preservation of the special rights is related to the history. Do you still remember the era of the British colonization? The British when they colonized the country, they brought in foreign labourers in mass to work in tin mining and rubber sectors. The foreigners especially Chinese managed to strengthen their economic status and control the economy due to the British’s divide and rule policy. Thus, the Malays felt threatened with the migration of the foreigners. That is why the Malays became outraged when the Malayan Union did not take into consideration of their rights and privileges as the original inhabitants of the country. They strongly opposed the Malayan Union and reclaimed their rights during the formation of the Federation of Malaya 1948.


In order to ensure that the Malays were not left far behind, the government at that time was forced to find a way and the best way was to preserve the rights of the original inhabitants (the Malays and Bumipurtras of Sabah and Sarawak) of the country. The preservation of the rights and privileges aimed at avoiding discrimination, competition and conflict among the races.

5.4.2 Activities


Can you think over what will happen if there is no preservation of the rights and privileges of the Malays and Bumipurtras of Sabah and Sarawak? Is there any disadvantage of the preservation of the Malays and the Bumiputras?
5.5 The Citizenship
5.5.1 Presentation

The issue of citizenship is also crucial for an independent and sovereign country like Malaysia. Thus, it becomes one of the main provisions of the Federal Constitution. The aspect citizenship is stated in Article 14 to 22, Part 3. For Malaysian students (citizens), do you aware the way you obtain the citizenship of Malaysia? For foreign students, do you aware that you also can be a citizen of the country? You can but you have to fulfill the conditions of being citizenship.


Do you know how the citizenship is awarded? There are four ways in which the citizenship is awarded. It is through:


  1. Enforcement of law

  2. Registration

  3. Migration or application

  4. Migration or application




  • Enforcement of Law

Through this way, the citizenship is awarded to the following categories of people:




  1. Those who were born before Malaysia Day (16 September 1963) including their children even if their children were born abroad




  1. Those who were born in Malaysia or abroad after Malaysia Day with conditions that the parents are citizens or permanent resident of the country at the time of his/her birth




  1. Those who were born in Malaysia including in airspace or on waters of Malaysia with condition that his/her birth is registered in Malaysia



By this way, a person can apply to be a Malaysian citizen if he/she is:




  1. A wife or child of a citizen, but with condition that:




        1. Residing in Malaysia for two years before the application is made and has intention to continue residing in Malaysia




        1. Good conduct




  1. An individual aged less than 21 years, with the following conditions:




  1. If one of the parents is a citizen




  1. He/she is born before October 1962



  1. An individual aged 18 years or above, was born in Malaysia before the Independence Day provided:




  1. He/she can prove his/her residence in Malaysia for five years out of seven years before application




  1. Has intention to be a permanent resident of Malaysia




  1. Possesses simple understanding of Malay language




  1. Good conduct




  1. An individual aged 18 years or above, residing in Sabah & Sarawak on Malaysia Day with the following conditions:




  1. Residing in Malaysia before Malaysia day




  1. After Malaysia Day, residing in Malaysia for seven years before he/she makes application




  • Migration or application

This way is applied onto foreign citizens in which those who aged 21 years and above can apply to be a citizen of Malaysia. The following conditions must be fulfilled:




  1. Has been residing in Malaysia for ten to twelve years before making application

  2. Has intention to be a permanent resident of the Federation

  3. Good conduct

  4. Has understanding of Malay language

  • Territorial Merger

If in the future, Singapore or Brunei will become a new territory of Malaysia, can the citizenship of Malaysia is granted to the people? Yes, the citizenship can be granted. It is stated in Article 23 that states if a new territory enters Malaysia, the Parliament has the power to decide on granting citizenship to the people of Singapore and Brunei.


For your information, the granting of citizenship through this way was implemented previously based on historical factors, as follows:


  1. Citizens of Singapore




  1. Citizens of the United kingdom and other colonies




  1. Permanent residents in Sabah and Sarawak

As the citizenship can be granted to an individual, he/she is also will lose the citizenship. Do you know how a citizen will lose his/her citizenship? There are two ways. First, he himself rejects the citizenship. It is called losing citizenship by renunciation. Second, he has violated the laws and committed any of the following prohibited actions:




  1. He has become a citizen of another country




  1. He is enjoying all the rights and facilities in another country just like a citizen of the country. For example, he can vote in the foreign country’s elections or possesses a foreign passport




  1. A woman becomes a citizen of a foreign country through marriage with a man from the country concerned




  1. Acts negatively showing he is no longer loyal to Malaysia




  1. Has business or ties with a hostile country




  1. He is imprisoned for more than 12 months or fined more than RM 5,000 within a period of five years after becoming a citizen of the country

5.5.2 Activities

If a foreign citizen has resided in Malaysia for 5 years and has children who were born in Malaysia, can he and his children being granted the citizenship? Discuss.
5.6 Special Protection for Sabah and Sarawak

5.6.1 Presentation


For your information, Sabah and Sarawak have special attention in the Federal Constitution in which other states do not have. The special attention given to both states makes both states differ from other states in several situations. The Federal Constitution gives wider powers compared to other states of the Peninsular. For instance, in several cases, the directives from the Federal government cannot be executed in both states without the consent of the state laws or the respective Yang Di-Pertua Negeri. Below are among the examples that make Sabah & Sarawak differ from other states:


  1. Changing of number of members of Dewan Rakyat (House of Representative) from Sabah and Sarawak.

Currently, the number of members of Dewan Rakyat from Sabah is 25 while from Sarawak 28. If the Parliament wants to change the number, the consent of Yang Di-Pertua Negeri from both states must be sought first.




  1. Immigration of citizen from Peninsular to both states

Basically, all citizens are free to travel from one state to another and to reside in any state. However, the Constitution grants power to both states to prevent the entry of Malaysians from the Peninsular to both states.




  1. Land laws

Article 89 of the Federal Constitution states the Parliament has power to standardize the land laws and policies on land matters. However, Sabah and Sarawak are not affected by the article. Also, Sabah and Sarawak have fully authority to create Malay reserve land but the other states do not have such authority.




  1. Financial Matters

Sabah and Sarawak can borrow money from any parties in Malaysia, upon approval by Bank Negara. However, other states can borrow money from the Federal government and any authorized bodies determined by the federal government only.


5.6.2 Activities
Find out the articles in the Federal Constitution that mention about the special attention on the matters which have been discussed above. You may search the Federal Constitution from Google by typing “Federal Constitution of Malaysia” (download the pdf copy).
5.7 The Basic Freedom of the Citizens
5.7.1 Presentation
The Constitution guarantees the basic freedom of all citizens. It can be found in Part 2 of the Constitution. Among the freedoms are:


  1. Freedom of worship

Every citizen has the right to practice a religion. However, state laws can restrict faith or beliefs among Muslims.




  1. Freedom from slavery and forced labor.

According to Article 6, no one can be detained as a slave. All kinds of forced labor are prohibited. However, forced labour can be enforced on prisoners as a form of punishment, thus it is not looked as a forced labour.




  1. Freedom from abuse of the law.

No one can be punished if his action is not considered as an offence in the eyes of the law. However, nobody can take the law in his or her own hand.




  1. Individual freedom

Everybody is entitled to his or her own freedom. If a person is arrested, he must be informed the reason of the arrest at that time he is arrested. Also, he must be brought before a magistrate within 24 hours of the arrest. He must be allowed to appoint a lawyer of his own choice. However, if he is arrested under ISA (International Security Act), he needs not to be brought before a magistrate.




  1. Freedom to speak, to assemble and to form associations.

All citizens are free to speak out their minds, to assemble and to form a union but the Parliament can restrict the freedom. For example, if the citizens assemble or form union to question the special rights of the Malays of the status of the national language, they can be detained under ISA.




  1. Freedom to own property

The citizens also can own wealth or property as much as they want provided the property is earned according to the law. No citizen can be deprived of his or her property except under the law. Adequate compensation must be paid for any property that has been wrongly seized.




  1. Freedom from exile and restriction of movement

All citizens have the right to move freely and live in any part of the federation. However, restriction can be imposed due to national security, public order or as a punishment to criminals.


5.7.2 Activities
From your observation throughout your stay in Malaysia and of being its citizen, to what extend the basic freedom of the citizens are protected in the country? Discuss.
6.0 Lesson Summary
In this topic, you are exposed to the main provisions in the Constitution. Among others, those provisions relate to the national language, status of the Malay Rulers, status of the Malays, status of Islam, basics freedom of the people, citizenship and special attention to Sabah and Sarawak. This topic has shown the uniqueness and comprehensiveness of the constitution. It is relevant to the multi-racial society and the system of government which is practiced in the country. It is stable as the Constitution was drafted based on the give and take spirit among the leaders from various races. The Constitution has managed to sustain the peace in the country.



  1. Self Assessment




    1. Which of the following is the fundamental freedom of any citizen of Malaysia as provided by the Federal Constitution?




    1. To deprive of someone else’s property

    2. Freedom to own any kind of property

    3. Freedom to do anything against the law

    4. Free to speak our mind, to assemble and to form a union

Answer: D







Islam as official religion.

Citizenship


CONSTITUTION OF MALAYSIA

Bahasa Melayu as the national language.



X

Stated above are among the main provisions in the constitution of Malaysia.

What is X?


    1. High Council.

    2. Human’s rights.

    3. Dual citizenship.

    4. Special position of Malays and indigenous people in Borneo.

Answer: D




    1. Malay language is made as the national language because Malay language ___________




          1. Is the language of the original inhabitants of the country

          2. Is richer with vocabulary than other language

          3. Has two forms of writing that is jawi and roman

          4. Was the lingua franca of the region at that time

Answer: D




    1. The following statements are true about the basic freedom of the Malaysian citizens except

_____________


  1. A person who is arrested must be informed the reason of the arrest

  2. A person who arrested under ISA is allowed to appoint a lawyer

  3. A person cannot be exiled except according to the law of the country

  4. A person is allowed to speak, assemble and form an association

Answer: B




    1. The ways of granting citizenship to a person are through ___________




  1. Operation of law

  2. Registration

  3. Territorial merger

  4. Migration or application




  1. I and II only

  2. I, II and III

  3. III and IV

  4. All of the above

Answer: D





    1. Which of the following are cases of which a Malaysian citizen will lose the citizenship?




  1. He has become a citizen of another country

  2. Acts negatively showing he is no longer loyal to Malaysia

  3. Has business or ties with a hostile country like Israel

  4. A woman becomes a citizen of a foreign country through marriage with a man from the country concerned




  1. I and II only

  2. I, II and III

  3. III and IV

  4. All of the above

Answer: D


TRUE FALSE TYPE OF QUESTION


  1. The Federal Constitution of Malaysia is a type of written law of Malaysia. T / F

Answer: T




  1. Laws which are enacted by Parliament are considered as written law of Malaysia. T / F

Answer: T




  1. Any citizen who questions the special privileges of the Malays can be charged under the Incitement Act (1971). T / F

Answer: T




  1. The special privileges of the Malays and indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak are guaranteed by Yang Dipertun Agong. T / F

Answer: T




  1. Under Federal Constitution, there are four ways by which a person can be a citizen of Malaysia. The four ways are by operation of law, by registration, by application and by renunciation. T / F

Answer: F




  1. A citizenship of a person can be terminated through two ways, i.e by revocation and through territory merger. T / F

Answer: F




  1. Ahmad Albab is a Malaysian and he can vote in general election in Malaysia. However, at the same time he also can vote in Thailand. Looking at his status where he exercises two rights of citizenship, the Malaysian government has the right to terminate his Malaysian citizenship. T / F

Answer: T




  1. Abdul Wahub is 20 years old. He can terminate his Malaysian citizenship by declaring to the Malaysian government that he does not want to be a Malaysian citizen anymore after getting married with Mek Jenab from Bangladesh. T / F

Answer: T




  1. After five years being a Malaysian citizen, Castelo was caught by policemen in his attempt to steal a Coconut shirt at Gagal Jusco supermarket in Pasir Bedengung. He was fined RM5,000 for the crime that he committed. In this case, his citizenship can be terminated by Malaysian government. T / F

Answer: T




  1. Anyone who is born after Malaysia day (16th Sep. 1963) is automatically becomes a Malaysian citizen if his father is a citizen of Malaysia at the time of his birth. T / F

Answer: T




  1. The father of Gunawan is a permanent resident (PR) in Malaysia. He came to Malaysia to work in 2005. Gunawan was born in January 2006. In this case, Gunawan is automatically becomes a Malaysian citizen because his father is a permanent resident of Malaysia at the time of his birth. T / F

Answer: T




  1. Penan and Kalabit are not indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak and thus, are not bumiputra in Malaysia. T / F

Answer: F




  1. If you are suddenly arrested by a policeman, you do not have right to ask the policeman the reason why you are arrested because you must respect the policeman who carries out his job. T / F

Answer: F







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