By G. Prakash | Malay Mail
Aiming to help the man-on-the-street better understand the Federal Constitution, a two-year nationwide MyConstitution Campaign has been planned and is ready to be launched by the Constitutional Law Committee (ConstiLC).
The campaign is a project driven by ConstiLC, formed in July. In an interview, ConstiLC chairman Edmund Bon, 35 — an enthusiastic lawyer well-known in legal circles for championing human rights issues — and his co-deputy chairpersons Mahaletchumi Balakrishnan and Syahredzan Johan, were enthusiastic the campaign would achieve its aims.
“Our main aim is to educate Malaysians on the role, functions and content of the Federal Constitution.
At the moment, the awareness among the public is low and this is what needs to be changed,” said Mahaletchumi.
The focus of the campaign is mainly to explain important concepts and themes of the Federal Constitution, such as its function as the “rule-book” of our nation, the relationship between the federal government and state governments, and the rights and fundamental liberties, among others.
Among the activities to be carried out during the campaign are the production of a series of rakyat service advertisements on selected provisions of the Federal Constitution, publication of a series of pocket-sized guides on different parts of the Federal Constitution and hosting a series of awareness-raising and interest-building programmes on the Federal Constitution through symposiums, dialogues, forums and lectures.
“The pocket-sized guides, to be known as ‘Rakyat Guides’ will be a simplified version that can be easily understood by anyone and it will help explain each of the themes,” said Syahredzan.
The “Rakyat Guide” is divided into three parts — the first sets out the relevant provisions in the Constitution, the second gives examples of how they affect a person’s life and the final part deals with frequently asked questions.
Syahredzan added that there will also be a Rakyat Service Announcement for each of the themes, and the RSAs will be available online to be downloaded.
“If these RSAs are successful, the committee is hoping to work with the Education Ministry to simplify the ideas so that subsequently they can be used in schools.”
Apart from that, the committee will also develop and maintain a website dedicated to the campaign. Articles on the Federal Constitution are also planned to be published.
The campaign will be launched this Friday and the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong will launch the “MyConstitution Campaign” at the Bar Council Secretariat. The event is open to the public.
“We’ll also be launching our first ‘Rakyat Guides’ booklet,” he said. It will be entitled ‘What is the Federal Constitution?’, which is a general overview and importance of the Constitution. ConstiLC will also launch its website and air its first RSA on that day.” added Mahaletchumi, a lawyer who has been in practice for nine years.
This will be followed by a forum entitled “Conversations on the Constitution: What is the Federal Constitution?”
ConstiLC is the newest committee at the Bar Council and currently has the largest number of members compared with any committee formed within the grouping.
Embracing the philosophy of the Constitution being for everyone, the ConstiLC boasts 99 members, comprising students, academics, members of the media and non-governmental organisations, apart from lawyers from all over the nation.
The committee has a colourful logo — depicting its name in Bahasa Malaysia and English, with seven cartoon heads. The idea behind the seven cartoon heads is that one is unable to recognise any particular ethnic group for the features or colours.
Thus, it shows the diversity of the people of Malaysia that the constitution provides for.
Nine themes of MyConstitution
In order to make the Federal Constitution understood by everyone, the MyConstitution campaign has simplified it. The Constitution has been divided into nine sections. They are:
1. Introduction to the Supremacy of the Constitution
2. Institutions Established by the Constitution & the Separation of Powers
3. Federal-State Relations
4. Rakyat: Citizenship & Fundamental Liberties
5. Elections & Democracy
9. Sabah & Sarawak Constitution
History of the Federal Constitution
The Federal Constitution of Malaysia is the supreme law of Malaysia, with the 1957 Constitution of the Federation of Malaya acting as the basis of this very important document.
It establishes Malaysia as a constitutional monarchy, having the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as the Head of State — whose role is largely ceremonial.
It provides the establishment and the organisation of three main branches of the government — the Parliament, comprising the House of Representatives and the Senate; the executive branch led by the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers; and the judiciary system headed by the Federal Court.
In January 1956, a conference was held in London to agree to the principles on which independence was to be granted and to appoint a Constitutional Commission to draft an independent Malaya’s very first constitution.
The Commission was headed by Lord Reid, who was a British judge, Sir Ivor Jennings, a British expert on Commonwealth constitutional law, Sir William McKell of Australia, B. Malik from India, and Justice Abdul Hamid of Pakistan.
Source: https://www.malaysianbar.org.my/article/about-us/committees/constitutional-law-committee/federal-constitution-made-easy. Archived at https://perma.cc/3DLU-33S9.