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13 - Malaysia's Invisible Constitution

from Part II - The View from Asia Pacific and the Middle East

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 November 2018

Rosalind Dixon
Affiliation:
University of New South Wales, Sydney
Adrienne Stone
Affiliation:
University of Melbourne
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Summary

Religion has become the great fault line in contemporary Malaysia. This chapter considers the invisible constitution in connection with the Malaysian Federal Constitution’s religion clauses. Malaysia’s religion clauses provide a focal point for examining the invisible constitution in two main ways. The first relates to the invisible elevation of Islam’s position through expansive judicial interpretations of the Article 3 Islamic constitutional clause leading to the prioritization of Islam’s place in the constitutional order. A second, contrasting approach to Malaysia’s invisible Constitution is to have recourse to the Constitution’s original framework. Invisibility in this sense refers to the overarching constitutional architecture and the commitments underlying the surface of its visible text, which supply the framework for interpreting the written document. On this account, the original secular framework on which the Constitution was founded and its structural principles are integral to Malaysia’s constitutional core.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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