Explain in detail the Procedure of amendments in Malaysian Constitution

(1) Introduction

The Constitution of Malaysia is a changing document. The current Malaysian Constitution was enacted in 1957 and the process of constitutional change has been used on many occasions to amend it. Therefore, several amendments have been made to it since its enactment. It provides a specific and unique procedure for its amendment.

(2) Procedure Of Amendment In Malaysian Constitution

Articles 159, 16] E and 62 provide for procedure of amendment in Malaysian Constitution. In short, these articles provide four different modes for constitutional amendment:

  • (i) First mode
  • (ii) Second mode
  • (iii) Third mode
  • (iv) Fourth mode
  • (v) Simple majority
  • (vi) Two thirds majority
  • (vii) Exceptions to two thirds majority vote requirement
  • (viii) Matters for fourth mode

(i) First Mode

First mode is known as simple majority of each house of Parliament; a constitutional amendment can be made by an Act, which is passed by simple majority of members of each house of Parliament.

(ii) Second Mode

Second mode is known as two thirds majority of each house of Parliament; a constitutional amendment can be made by an Act, which is passed by two thirds majority of members of each house of Parliament on second and third readings.

(iii) Third Mode

Third mode is known as two thirds majority of each house of Parliament & consent of Conference of Rulers; a constitutional amendment can be made by an Act, which is passed by two thirds majority of members of each house of Parliament on second and third readings and receives the consent of Conference of Rulers.

(iv) Fourth Mode

Fourth mode is known as Two thirds majority of each house of Parliament & consent of Governor of Sabah or Sarawak; a constitutional amendment can be made by an Act, which is passed by two thirds majority of members of each house of Parliament on second and third readings and receives the consent of Governor of Sabah or Sarawak.

(v) Simple Majority

Simple majority does not mean a majority of the total members of each house. Rather it is a majority of members, who vote.

(vi) Two Thirds Majority

A two thirds majority means support of the total members of each house; it does not mean two thirds of the members, who are present and vote.

(vii) Exceptions To Two Thirds Majority Vote Requirement

Certain amendments are excepted from the two thirds majority vote requirement:

  • (a) Part III of Second Schedule
  • (b) Sixth Schedule
  • (c) Seventh Schedule
  • (d) Parliament’s power to make law
  • (e) Admission of any state to Federation
  • (f) Association of any state with states
  • (g) Modification about application of Constitution to admitted or associated state
  • (h) Amendment consequential on amendment to Part III of 20000 € Second Schedule
  • (j) Amendment consequential on amendment to Sixth Schedule
  • (k) Amendment consequential on amendment to Seventh Schedule

(a) Part III Of Second Schedule

Any amendment to Part III of the Second Schedule of the Constitution is excepted from this requirement.

(b) Sixth Schedule

Any amendment to the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution excepted from this requirement.

(c) Seventh Schedule

Any amendment to the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution is excepted from this requirement.

(d) Parliament’s Power To Make Law

Any amendment, which is incidental to or consequential on the exercise of any power, which any provision of the Constitution has conferred on Parliament to make law, is excepted from this requirement.

Exception

Any amendment to such power under Articles 74 and 76 reeds this requirement:

Article 74

Article 74 narrates subject matter of federal and state laws.

Article 76

Article 76 describes power of Parliament to legislate for states in certain cases.

(e) Admission Of Any State To Federation

Any amendment, which is made for or in connection with the admission of any state to the Federation, is excepted from this requirement.

(f) Association Of Any State

With States Any amendment, which is made for or in connection with the association of any state with the states, is excepted from this requirement.

(g) Modification About Application Of Constitution To Admitted Or Associated State

Any amendment, which is made for or in connection with any modification, which is made about the application of the Constitution to previously admitted or associated state, is excepted from this requirement.

(h) Amendment Consequential On Amendment To Part III Of Second Schedule

Any amendment, which is consequential on an amendment to the Part II of the Second Schedule of the Constitution, is from the requirement.

(j) Amendment Consequential On Amendment To Sixth Schedule

Any amendment, which is consequential on an amendment to the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, is excepted from the requirement.

(k) Amendment Consequential On Amendment To Seventh Schedule

Any amendment, which is consequential on an amendment to the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, is excepted from the requirement.

(viii) Matters For Fourth Mode

Article 161 E describes the matters for which fourth mode of constitutional amendment is adopted:

  • (a) Citizenship
  • (b) Constitution & jurisdiction of High Court
  • (c) Appointment, removal & suspension of judges of High Court
  • (d) Legislation of state
  • (e) Exclusive authority of state
  • (f) Financial arrangements
  • (g) Religion in state Use of any language in state or Parliament
  • (h) Special treatment of natives of state
  • (i) Allocation of quota of members of House of Representatives

(a) Citizenship

This mode covers the right of who were born before Malaysia Day, to citizenship by reason of a connection with the state.

(b) Constitution & Jurisdiction Of High Court

This mode covers the constitution and jurisdiction of the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak.

(c) Appointment, Removal & Suspension Of Judges Of High Court

This mode covers the appointment, removal and High Court suspension of judges of High Court in Sabah and Sarawak.

(d) Legislation Of State

This mode covers the matters with respect to which the Legislature of the state can or Parliament cannot make laws.

(e) Exclusive Authority Of State

This mode covers the executive authority of the state in the matters with respect to which the Legislature of the state can legislate.

(f) Financial Arrangements

This mode covers the financial arrangements between the Federation and the state.

(g) Religion In State

This mode covers religion in the state.

(h) Use Of Any Language In State Or Parliament

This mode covers the use of any language in the state of Parliament.

(j) Special Treatment Of Natives Of State

This mode covers the special treatment of natives of the state 

(k) Allocation Of Quota Of Members Of House Of Representatives

This mode covers the allocation of a quota of members of the House of Representatives to the state in any Parliament that was summoned to meet before the end of August 1970

(3) Conclusion

It can be finally stated that no constitution can be made for all time. A living constitution must be molded and shaped through a process of trial and errors and must be enriched by experiences and experiments to conform to the actual needs of the nation. Although Malaysia has been amending its Constitution since its enactment, yet the constitutional amendments have been so far made to strengthen the powers of executive government. In this way, the amendments have weakened the democratic principles like rule of law, checks and balances and judicial independence.

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