Malaysia a constitutional democracy

Pakatan Rakyat, on Monday, 15 July 2013, filed a suit in the High Court against seven Election Commission (EC) officers including its vice chairman seeking to declare the results of the 13th General Election as null and void. This is unprecedented in Commonwealth history.

Dr. Rueban Balasubramaniam, who will be presenting at the Malaysia-Singapore Update 2013, reflects on the importance of this case to Malaysia’s democratic characteristics:

The case is a pivotal case because it is an occasion for the courts to clarify that the Malaysian Constitution lays down a legal basis to a “constitutional democracy.”

In a constitutional democracy, there are legal norms put in place to ensure that each citizen has an equal right to political participation, that is, the right to participate in any political decision affecting their fundamental interests.

In a constitutional democracy, the ideals of the rule of law or legality and the ideal of democracy are mutually constitutive ideals: the former aspires to tame arbitrary power while the latter aspires to make such power systematically responsive to the interests of citizens.

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