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Monday, November 5, 2007

Don: Constitution not highest law

NST (31/10/2007): Constitutional supremacy in Malaysia is not real, according to constitutional law lecturer Professor Shad Saleem Faruqi.

He said the Constitution was supposed to be the highest law in the country but in reality it was just a notion.

“A great deal of legislation passed by parliament and state assemblies disregard constitutional limits.

“For example, the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 says a minister’s discretion shall be absolute. He can impose any condition he deems fit.

“In a country with a supreme constitution, how can anyone have absolute discretion?” asked Shad Saleem.
It had to be a discretion constrained by the constitution, he said.

“Freedom of speech can be restricted only on grounds of order, security, morality but here you put a stamp on the menu and you say sulit, terhad (private and confidential) and it becomes that.

“It has nothing to do with national security, or public order or friendly relations with other states. Whatever Parliament passes in its wisdom, that is the law,” he said at the 14th Malaysian Law Conference 2007 yesterday.

Shad Saleem said the supreme charter should not only restrict the executive but also Parliament.

“Here, however, the Constitution has not become the sail and anchor, the chart and compass of our nation’s legal endeavours. It is merely notional.

“The Constitution does not constrain parliament. It hardly constrains the executive because the executive has been given power by a parliament whose powers are unlimited,” he said.


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