Malaysian Legal System

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Model Answer 1

Every citizen is protected under the Federal Constitution which entrenches certain ‘fundamental liberties’. In this context, explain what is meant by ‘fundamental liberties’ and state the main liberties so entrenched in the Federal Constitution. (10 marks)

(This question tests the candidates’ knowledge on ‘fundamental liberties’ as provided for in the Federal Constitution.)

The phrase, ‘Fundamental Liberties’, refers to certain rights, which may be considered as basic and essential to ensure the freedom of the individual. These rights are stated in the Federal Constitution and are said to be entrenched or enshrined because these rights cannot be altered or taken away altogether unless the Constitution itself is amended. This would be quite difficult as it requires a majority of two thirds of all the members of Parliament.

The main liberties so entrenched in the Federal Constitution are as follows:

1. No person may be deprived of his life or personal liberty except in accordance with the law. This means that the individual cannot be unlawfully imprisoned or put to death. Where the individual is unlawfully detained, he may obtain an order of the court through a writ of ‘habeas corpus’ requiring that he be lawfully charged in court or be released.

2. No person may be subject to slavery or forced labour. However, this is subject to the right of Parliament to make laws providing for compulsory national service.

3. No person can be punished under a law, which was not in force when the alleged crime was committed. Thus, laws against crimes cannot be passed with retrospective effect.

4. A person cannot be tried more than once for the same crime, where he has already been acquitted or convicted earlier. However, this does not apply where a superior court has quashed the earlier proceeding and ordered a re-trial.

5. All persons are equal before the law and entitled to its protection.

6. Citizens cannot be discriminated against in relation to appointment to any office or employment under a public authority, or in relation to acquisition of property, establishing or carrying on of any trade, business, profession, vocation or employment, merely on grounds of religion, race, descent or place of birth. However, this right is subject to Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, which permits the granting of special privileges to bumiputras.

7. Citizens cannot be discriminated against in relation to the providing of education, merely on grounds of religion, race, descent or place of birth. This is also subject to Article 153 as stated above.

8. Every person has the right to profess, practice and propagate his own religion. However, as Islam is the religion of the country, restrictions may be placed upon the propagation of other religions among Muslims.

9. No citizen may be banished from the country. However, this right is subject to exceptions whereby the Federal Government is permitted to deprive a person of his citizenship under certain circumstances.

10. Every citizen has the right to freedom of speech, peaceful assembly and association. However, in the interests of security, public order or morality, Parliament may impose certain restrictions. For example, the Sedition Act 1948 provides that it is an offence to question the sovereignty, powers and prerogatives of the rulers and the special position of the Malays. It must be noted, however, that freedom of speech does not entitle a person to defame another. This will entitle the person defamed to sue the other under the law of defamation.

Model Answer 2

In relation to the Malaysian legal system:
(a) Define ‘legislation’ and ‘delegated legislation’. (3 marks) (b) Explain the advantages and disadvantages of delegated legislation. (7 marks) (10 marks)

This question tests the candidates’ knowledge on the difference between legislation and delegated legislation as well as the advantages and disadvantages of delegated...
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