[POSTPONED] Fairer and Firmer? Justice and Constitution in Malaysia Today


Due to unforeseen circumstances, the above webinar (scheduled for Monday, 16 November 2020 at 3.00 pm) has been postponed until further notice.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused and look forward to your participation at other events organised by ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.


About the Webinar

Amidst Malaysia’s political upheavals, the justice system and constitution have offered glimmers of progress and handholds for stability. However, continuities from the past indicate persisting lack of check and balance. Under Pakatan Harapan, corruption was prosecuted, and the Attorney-General’s chambers and anti-corruption agency signalled a tilt toward independent law enforcement. The apex of these developments is the July 2020 conviction of former Prime Minister Najib Razak – under the Perikatan government to which he belongs. But clampdowns against dissent, and unresolved disappearance and child custody cases, raise questions about the authorities’ integrity and accountability.

The federal constitution has grown in Malaysia’s public consciousness. Pakatan failed to amend the constitution in line with the Malaysia Agreement 1963, but succeeded in lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. The founding of the “Malay unity” Muafakat Nasional pact, the dominant force within the Perikatan ruling coalition, prominently referenced the constitution. The constitutionality of the change of government from Pakatan to Perikatan, and of the recent overruled emergency declaration, have also generated vibrant debate, as Malaysia witnessed the workings of constitutional monarchy.

At this webinar, our panel will grapple with the following important and difficult questions, from legal practitioner and legal scholar perspectives:

  • How have justice and human rights progressed under Pakatan and Perikatan?
  • How significant were Pakatan’s reforms to the justice system, and will change endure?
  • Is renewed emphasis on the constitution helping Malaysia find common ground, or widening division?


About the Speakers

Surendra Ananth holds a law degree from the National University of Malaysia, and a Masters in International Human Rights Law from the University of Oxford. He was admitted to practice as an Advocate and Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya in July 2015, and presently runs his own law firm. He is Chairperson of the Kuala Lumpur Bar Practice Reform Committee and Co-Chairperson of the Constitutional Literacy Initiative, an initiative between the Malaysian Bar and University Malaya to increase constitutional literacy.

Dian Shah (PhD, Duke) is Assistant Professor of Law at the National University of Singapore. Her research spans the fields of law and religion, comparative constitutional law, and human rights. Dian is the author of Constitutions, Religion and Politics in Asia: Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka (2017), co-editor of Law and Society in Malaysia: Pluralism, Religion and Ethnicity (2018) and the editor of the Asian Journal of Comparative Law’s Special Issue on ‘Religion and Constitutional Practices in Asia’ (December 2018).


Nov 16 2020


3:00 pm - 4:30 pm