Monday, June 21, 2010


The history of the Malaysian Constitution must touch on the basis and beginning of the Federation of Malaya Constitution that was drawn up for the Independent Malaya. It is from there that the Malaysian Constitution. The Federation of Malaya Constitution has an interesting background and should be carefully studied for a complete understanding of it. The few years before independence was an important moment in term of the changes that led to the birth of a supreme lagal resource, the constitutionfor the application of an independent democratic country. With the defeat of Japan at the end of the Second World War, the administrative order in Malaya, Singapore and Brunei changed, By 1946, the situation was as follow:

1. The North Borneo Company gave up its rights and power over North Borneo.
2. Chales Brooke surrendered his power over Sarawak,
3. The Malay state were divided into three forms of government, the Straits Settlements , the Federated Malay States and Non-Federated Malay States.

With the above changes, Singapore, North Borneo and Sarawak become separate British territories. Accompanying that, the British combined the state of Penang Island and Malacca (former Straits Settlements) with the other nine Malay state and set up the Malayan Union on 1 April 1946. The establishment of the Malayan Union was accompanied by a constitution named the Malayan Union Constitution founded upon a combination of the Intenal Orders of the Malayan Union Executive Council and the Internal orders of the Royal Command.

When the Malayan Union was dissolved following opposition from the Malays, a new agreement was signed. With that the entire order underlining the Malayan Union Constitution was cancelled. Subssequently a new constitution was drawn up and come into effect on 1 Febuary 1948. The new constitution was named the Federation of Malaya (PTM) Constitution 1948.

Following the Constitution a British High Commissioner was place in the central government as the highest administrator, The Executive and Legislative Council represented the local people. The Legislative Council had 75 members, 50 pf whom are unofficial members appointed by the High Commissioner. The appoitees were taken from the Malay state including the former Straits Settlements.

The approval of the 1948 Agreement stated, among other things, the preparation toward self rule. Based on the Agreement, the general election for filling 52 seats in the Federal Legislative Council was held in July 1955. The Alliance won 51 out of the 52 seats contested, and Tunku Abdul Rahman, leader of the said party, become the Prime Minister.

The success of a multi-racial party was indicative of many things. First, the British become convinced that the colonial territories had a basic understanding for multi-racial political sharing. This was an indication that the people in the colonial territories were capable of looking after their country. Second, as a follow-up, the British must be prepared to expect the people in the countries concerned to demand for independence. Third among the citizens in the Federation of Malaya itself there was an awareness that a multi-racial population can build a new identity using a new approach (political conssciousness) and work together using the same means (political party).

British awareness on the one hand and hopes of the Alliance leaders on the other hand, had opened a new way towards self-government. Following that a constitutional meeting was held in London from 16 January to 6 Febuary 1956. The negotiations were attended by royal representative and representatives of the different races in Malaya including the Chief Minister Tuanku Abdul Rahman. Based on an agreement, arrived at in the meeting, a commission called the Reid Commission was founded under the chairmanship of Lord Reid to drawn up a new constitution for a free and independent Federation of Malaya.

From : Malaysian Studies Nationhood and Citizenship.

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