Thursday, December 6, 2012

Is Our Constitution Balanced for a Multicultural Society?

As part of our Contact Talk series, a talk about Malaysia's Federal Constitution by Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr. Shad Saleem Faruqi was held on Saturday, 1st December 2012 at zubedy's office.The event started from 9 a.m. and lasted until 12 p.m. Attendees were zubedy's clients, students from local law institutions, and the public.

This talk addresses gripping issues about our Constitution. Prof. Shad Faruqi's key points are:
  • The concept and ideas behind nation-building and the different approaches to nation-building such as the ‘melting pot’ and the ‘mosaic or rainbow’.
  • The Malaysian Constitution is balanced in its approach towards inter-communal harmony and moderation. According to him, “The Constitution is replete with safeguards for the interest of other communities (other than the Malays)”. 
  • Prof. Shad Faruqi explained furthermore than the Constitution grants personal liberty, protection against slavery and forced labor, protection against retrospective criminal laws and repeated trials, right to equality, and freedom of movement; among many other rights and freedoms.

  • While Islam is the official religion of the Federation, the country is not an Islamic state. He said, “The syariah does not apply to non-Muslims. The syariah courts have no jurisdiction over non-Muslims”. 
  • As quoted from his book, “…the Malaysian legal system is neither fully secular nor fully theocratic. It is hybrid. It permits legal pluralism”. 
  • All religious communities are allowed to profess and practice their faiths in peace and harmony. Funds and grant of land is often given to other religions, as a way of support by the state.
  • Religious competition over the hearts and minds of the people is evident all over the world. Prof. Shad Faruqi shed some light about freedom of religion and issues of proselytization in Malaysia.
  • Commentary on the American Constitution; its silence on social economy unlike Malaysia's. For instance, basic necessities for the people such as water and land is covered in our Constitution.
  • The special position of the Malays, as well as its limitations intended by the Constitution as opposed to what is practiced today in broad. Prof. Shad Faruqi said, "The Constitution did not use the term "Ketuanan Melayu", but the term "Kedudukan Istimewa".
  • The roles of the government and the people in upholding the Constitution. As said by Prof. Shad Faruqi, "The law is as good as those who administer it".

According to Anas Zubedy, moderator for the day, the purpose of having this event is to encourage the culture of knowledge exchange and open dialogues. He said, “As the title of the talk suggests, we want to promote the spirit of moderation to all Malaysians. This talk is aimed at making the public understand that our Constitution is one of the most accommodating charter and that it takes into account all races and religions of Malaysia”. He added, “The backbone of this nation rests on two; the people and the Constitution. That is why we have to pay attention to these two”.

Prof. Shad Faruqi's session was followed by an open discussion with the public about the Constitution. The participants took part and the discussion turned out to be a lively one. Afterwards, the participants were served with a light meal before the event ended.

Anas ended the event by saying, “We are happy with the turn out today and how well the talk went. We are definitely holding more of these events in the future”.

To watch the full video, please click here

No comments: