Malaysian Laws on the Internet

Introduction

Online legal resources on Malaysian laws is still relatively early in its development cycle. While there are a number of subscription services aimed at the legal professionals, authentic free primary resources for the lay person is still rare.

The Malaysian Legal System

The Malaysian Legal System is based on the English common law system. The term “”Common Law”” is usually taken to mean the unwritten law and legal customs which have been recognised and given the force of law. Common law is “”unwritten”” in the sense that the law was not embodied in a code or statute but is found in the recorded judgments of those judges who interpreted the law. These judgments have been recorded in various law reports and text-books.

It should also be mentioned that although Malaysian Law has predominantly an English common law flavour (as modified by statutes), there is some degree of pluralism in that Muslim Law governs the Muslim community in religion, matrimonial and related matters and is administered by a separate system of courts known as the Syariah Courts.

The supreme law in Malaysia is its Constitution. The Constitution provides for written laws or statutes to be enacted by Parliament. In Malaysia, the Parliament is a bicameral legislature, ie “”two chambers””, the Senate (Dewan Negara) and the House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat). Senate mebers sit for a three-year term up to a maximum of two terms: 26 are elected by the 13 state assemblies and 44 are appointed by the King. Members of the House of Representatives are elected from single-member districts by universal adult suffrage and sit for a maximum terms of 5 years. Legislative power is divided between federal and state legislatures.

The federal government has authority over external affairs, defense, internal security, justice (except civil law cases among Malays or other Muslims and other indigenous peoples, adjudicated under Islamic and traditional law), federal citizenship, finance, commerce, industry, communications, transportation, and other matters.

Customarily, a piece of legislation starts as a Bill from the House of Representatives. Once approved, it is tabled in the Senate for debate. After the Bill has to be approved by the Senate, it becomes law. However it does not come into force until assented to by the King (Yang Di-Pertuan Agong) and gazetted in the ‘Government Gazette’.

It is common practice for Acts of Parliament to confer powers on a Minister or other persons or bodies to make rules or regulations for specified purposes. Such rules and regulations are known as subsidiary legislation.

Judicial power is vested in the Courts of Malaysia. The Federal Court of Malaysia is the highest judicial authority and the final court of appeal in Malaysia. The country, although federally constituted, has a single-structured judicial system consisting of two parts – the superior courts and the subordinate courts. The subordinate courts are the Magistrate Courts and the Sessions Courts whilst the superior courts are the two High Courts of co-ordinate jurisdiction and status, one for Peninsular Malaysia and the other for the States of Sabah and Sarawak, the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.

Before January 1, 1985, although the Federal Court was the highest court in the country, its decisions can be appealed to the Privy Council in London. Since January 1, 1978, Privy Council appeals in criminal and constitutional matters were abolished and since January 1, 1985, all other appeals i.e. civil appeals except those filed before that date were abolished.

On March 20, 1993 a Special Court was established to hear cases concerning the Rulers of the component states of Malaysia and concerning the King. This Court is chaired by the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, assisted by four other members, namely the two Chief Judges of the respective High Courts and two other persons appointed by the Conference of Rulers who hold or have held office as a judge.

A List Of Malaysian Legal Resources on the Internet:

Malaysian Sources

International Sources

Lay Person Sources

  • Lawyerment
    Information on the laws of Malaysian Lawyerment, an online legal resource