The Moral Foundations of the Constitution

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Tengku Ahmad Hazri

Abstract

Despite the primacy of Malaysia’s written constitution and despite its lofty status as the very foundation of the nation and the embodiment of the social contract, recent trends reveal a shift away from the black letters of the law towards a search for the moral foundations of the constitution, foundations that are largely unwritten. Significantly, from all sides of the debate the sanctity of the constitution itself has been upheld and, although different parties have advanced different interpretations of its ideals and history, none have gone to the point of challenging its validity. This is interesting, especially with reference to Malaysia, because the constitution itself was drafted by the Reid Commission, comprising five members, none of whom were Malayan. The constitution could have easily been construed as a remnant of neo-colonialism, but this has not happened. At least not so far.

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