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You were born an original. Don’t die a copy – John Mason, American author

What went wretchedly wrong is painfully obvious when almost all our codes, laws, rules and regulations reek of colonial stench. We quit being original, and instead yearn to live and perish as copycats. That’s an objectionable aberration.

The shelf life of the colonial mindset expired when a Malaysian social club recently snapped out of its trance by jettisoning the century-old habit of excluding ladies from a ‘Men Only’ imbibing station in the club. Amusingly, some anglophiles and misogynistic diehards took it badly. Too bad.

What went wantonly wrong is that it is high time our laws saw some Malaysian-ness in them. It means advancing and advocating Malaysian values and beliefs into our jurisprudence. The pendulum of public opinion is already on full swing.

Conflict resolution in ancient India was discontinued by the East India Company which witnessed the native institution of ‘panchayats’ replaced by the colonial jury system that found and wound its way into Malaya. The Indic vendetta came in the form of ctm (chicken tikka masala) which is now a British gastronomical delight.

Want went wickedly wrong is archaic Victorian colonial laws jostling for prominence and pre-eminence in Malaysia. Where a Malaysian law was not available when it could have been promulgated, it became necessary to apply English law: Yong Joo Lin v. Fung Poi Fong (1941) MLJ 63, before the Civil Law Act 1956 saw light of day.

Fifty years later, in 1991, the continuing absence of specific Malaysian legislation concerning contempt of court necessitated the application of a 1900 English common law decision: Attorney-General Malaysia v Manjeet Singh Dhillon [1991] 1 MLJ 167. Time travel for Malaysian jurisprudence seems inevitable.

Dhillon tells Malaysians that since 1957, law reform concerning contempt of court was non-existent in Malaysian jurisprudence. Parliament seems to prefer imported laws. Dhillon witnessed application in Murray Hiebert v Chandra Sri Ram [1999] 4 AMR 4005, 4024, some thirty-nine years after Merdeka.

Malaysian law reformers should get rid of alien laws that have no relevance in Malaysian society. Malaysian jurisprudence must abandon reliance upon external sources when there is a huge corpus of Malayan common law and post-Merdeka statutory schemes.

What went wrong again found expression in the Sedition Act 1948. We need Malaysian norms, rules and regulations concerning sedition instead of a Westminster-fashioned super-broad and supercilious definition as ‘conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch.’

But what if alleged seditious conduct or speech failed to incite people? The existing definition is insulting to right-thinking Malaysians. Are we dimwits to get agitated, excited, and disaffected because of some fiery misled orator hell-bent in stoking and fomenting our frustrations?

What went waywardly wrong is an absence of details and particulars as to how Malaysian security is affected that requires special measures under SOSMA. When you have Article 10 Federal Constitution (FC) guarantees, you can expect a host of grievances and controversies that could allegedly disturb internal security.

Internal security anywhere can only be threatened when firearms get into wrong hands. Malaysia enjoys excellent gun-control laws. So where is the threat to internal security when PDRM and the Armed Forces are up to speed? SOSMA cannot prevent dissents and protests inasmuch as POCA can prevent crime.

SOSMA cannot be superior to or claim supremacy over Article 10 FC freedoms. What went frightfully wrong is discernible when parliamentary supremacy threatens to override constitutional supremacy.

What is fatal to national security is unbridled corruption that has become a tyranny of habit amongst our public and private sector officials. Both the bribe-giver and bribe-taker threaten national security when we are dubbed a nation of kleptocrats that discourages investors and weakens economic stability.

What went hideously wrong with our imported version of the Income Tax Act 1967? The FC and the Interpretation Acts 1948 & 1967 (Act 388) fail to mention and define “income tax” or “taxpayer.” Article 160 FC refers merely to a broad definition of “tax.”

According to Straits Settlements archives, the genesis of income tax in Malaysia began with taxes imposed by the British on “vices and pleasures,” viz, prostitution, liquor, opium and gambling - the PLOG tax. We owe our drug problem to the British importing and taxing opium into their colonies. These are naked incontrovertible facts. We still need British laws?

Is ‘income tax’ law really necessary when no enumerator can officially confirm how much ringgits are in circulation in our pockets, piggy banks, closets and bank deposits. So, why the income tax? We are not printing any more ringgits? What triggers ringgit printing?

The British treasure-hunters came here and found not only tin and rubber, but Sultans to advise, influence, and exert pressure. The British succeeded in their persuasions and convictions that immigrant labor, which they proposed and promulgated for self-serving reasons and purposes, will become a perpetual thorn that necessitated the parachuting of Article 153 into the Federal Constitution.

Malaysians must become constitutional border patrol guards ensuring that nobody, not even the government, exceeds its limited powers as a constitutional government with co-equal organs of state deferring to the will of the People standing vigil against ethnocracy.

Law reformers, if they are seriously dedicated, must dust for fingerprints left behind by imported laws of the colonial opportunists. Garbage in, garbage out.


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