Reforms possible while leaving Constitution intact, says law professor

Jerry Choong
Professor Andrew Harding speaks during ‘Prospects for Malaysia Baru’ lecture at Sunway University September 3, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

SUBANG JAYA, Sep 3 — Institutional reforms can be accomplished without amending the Federal Constitution, a constitutional expert said today.

National University of Singapore law professor Andrew Harding said many of the changes can be done via ordinary legislation, exercising administrative discretion, or regulating statutory bodies.

“Including judicial interpretation (of the Constitution), these are several methods that can be taken in pursuing the reforms,” he said during a lecture ‘Prospects for Malaysia Baru’ at Sunway University.

The British-born Harding, who has been engaging in Malaysia’s legal system since 1974, said the reforms included separating the office of the Public Prosecutor from that of the Attorney-General’s Chambers to prevent political manipulation, and reverting control of key institutions or agencies from the Prime Minister’s Office back to Parliament.

“These include the Public Services Commission, Education Services Commission, the National Audit Department, the Judicial Appointments Commission, and the Secretariat of the Parliament itself, among others.

“Other types of reforms that can be implemented include ensuring the de facto independence of watchdog agencies, decentralisation, carrying out the Malaysia Agreement 1963 to its fullest extent, and holding local government elections which was abolished in 1965,” he said.

Later speaking to the Malay Mail, Harding said such reforms required time to codify and entrench itself into the system, adding that he was uncertain how long the process would take.

“If the reforms are not codified, there is a possibility that should the Opposition come back into power again, they could be reversed,” he said.

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