FEDERALISM IN MALAYSIA
By: Iffa Syafiqa
The existence of federalism in Malaysian history dates back in 1895 during the establishment of the Federated Malay States which are the ‘Protected States’ of Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang and Perak. Federation of Malaya then came later in 1948 with the unification of the nine Malay states and Settlements of Penang and Malacca by the British. Federal principle was described by K.C. Wheare as "the method of dividing powers so that the general and regional governments are each within a sphere co- ordinate and independent." His definition elaborates that under a federal system, there lies an autonomous sphere of power resides in each of the general and the regional government in which can be exercised independently of the other level. Wheare’s definition on federal principle is the separateness of the central and regional authorities and this provides the distinction of a federal government from other forms of government. A.V. Dicey, also another scholar identified the three leading characteristics of a "completely developed federalism" herein includes the distribution of powers among governmental bodies (each with limited and coordinate powers), along with the supremacy of the constitution and the authority of the courts as the interpreters of the constitution. Throughout this circa 118 years since 1895, Malaysia has been evolving in the application of this federal principle, being practiced the federal parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch. The objective of this paperwork is to analyse whether or not Malaysia is applying the true concept of federalism in which lies the occurrence of separate central and regional authorities. It is also to be taken as a main concern whether or not Malaysia is merely practicing a ‘quasi-federation’ system. Facts and further analyses of distinguished authors will be provided to strengthen this paperwork with factual legitimacies.
Federal Constitution of Malaysia – An Overview
In order to recognise the federalism in Malaysia, one has to know of the general essential attributes of federal governments despite its diversities. A federation is (1) a formation of states association whereby a number of states, be it independent or semi-independent form an administrative unity of central government in matters dealing with certain affairs without jeopardizing their respective originalities. In a federation there should also exists the (2) duality of government, which are the central government and the elected government of each states, provinces or cantons. This rounds up that both these governments (central and regional) are subjected directly to each citizen, i.e. the principle of “non-centralisation”. Non-centralisation can be done through a constitutionally-guaranteed diffusion of power. This diffusion of power, guarantees by enforcing it from being disturbed unilaterally. Hence, in matters pertaining to the amendments of any matter particularly in Malaysia, that involves boundaries of a state need the consents by the Conference of Rulers and legislature of the states concerned.1 Federalism also connects interest groups in a durable, but limited union of mutual consent to secure each of their respective originalities. This creates a sense of (3) semi-autonomous units. In other words, state governments do not detriment their authority in regards to the entire matters of the federal government. They aimed in achieving the advantage of general interests on the government. (4) Limitation of powers is also one of the attributes of a common federal system. Limitation of power amongst the legislative, executive, judicial and economic must be properly divided constitutionally. The division must be able to establish a federal relationship through union agreement in which division or sharing of powers is outlined meticulously. The state of being that the Constitution holds the highest law of the land and regarded as the...
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