Features of Constitution1
|Is there a constitution?||Yes|
|Does the constitution provide for freedom of religion?||Yes|
|Last Amended||As of 5/11/2011, last amendment was made in 2007|
|Source||The Centre for Public Policy Studies (Kuala Lumpur)|
|Translation||Unofficial translation by ARDA staff from Malay source|
|Current as of||2006 (later amendments not included)|
Constitution Excerpts (clauses that reference religion)2
Article 3: Religion of the Federation
(1) Islam is the religion of the Federation but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.
(2) In every State other than States that do not have a Ruler (Raja), the position of the Ruler as the Head (Ketua) of Islam in the State in the manner and extent recognized and established by the Constitution of the State, and, subject to the Constitution, all the rights, privileges, prerogatives and power enjoyed by him as Head of the Islamic religion, are unaffected and unimpaired; but in any religious act, practice or ceremony that the Conference of Rulers (Majlis Raja-Raja) has agreed should be extended to the entire Federation, the other Rulers shall allow the King (Yang di-Pertuan Agong) to represent them.
(3) The Constitutions of the States of Malacca, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak shall each provide for the King the position of Head of Islam in the State.
(4) Nothing in this article reduces any other provision of this Constitution.
(5) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, the king shall be the Head of Islam in the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, and for this purpose Parliament may by law make provisions to regulate Islamic religious affairs and to establish a Council (Majlis) to advise the King on matters relating to Islam.
Article 5: Liberty
(1) No person shall be deprived of his life or his liberty except in accordance with law.
(2) If a complaint is made to the High Court (Mahkamah Tinggi) or any judge of the High Court stating that a person is being detained unlawfully, the Court shall investigate the complaint and, unless the Court is satisfied that the detention is lawful, shall order that the person be brought before the court and released.
(3) If a person is arrested, he shall be notified of the reasons for his arrest as soon as possible and shall be allowed to consult with and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.
(4) If a person is arrested and not released, that person should, without unreasonable delay and within twenty-four hours in any case (not including the time of any necessary journey), be brought before a magistrate and shall not be detained further without the magistrate:
…in case of arrest for an offense that can be tried by a Syariah Court (mahkamah Syariah), references in this clause to a "magistrate" shall be construed to include references to a "Syariah Court judge."
(5) Clauses 3 and 4 of this Article shall not apply to enemy aliens.
Article 8: Equality
(1) All persons are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law.
(2) Except as expressly authorized by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens on grounds only of religion, race, ethnicity, place of birth or gender in any law, in the appointment to any office or employment under a public authority, or in the administration of any law relating to the acquisition, holding or disposition of property or to the establishment or conduct of trade, business, profession, vocation or employment.
…(5) This Article does not invalidate or prohibit—
(A) any provision regulating personal law;
(B) any provision or practice restricting office or employment relating to the affairs of any religion, or an institution managed by a group professing any religion, to persons professing that religion;
(C) any provisions for the protection, well-being or development of the indigenous peoples of the Malay Peninsula (including the reservation of land) or the reservation to the indigenous peoples a reasonable proportion of suitable positions in the civil service;
(D) any provision prescribing residence in a State or part of a State as a qualification for election or appointment to any other authority having jurisdiction only in the States or in part only, or for voting in elections;
(E) any provision of the Constitution of a State, which is or equivalent to a provision in force immediately before Independence Day (Hari Merdeka);
(F) any provision restricting entry into the Malay Regiment to Malays.
Article 11: Freedom of religion
(1) Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion and, subject to Clause 4, propagate it.
(2) No person shall be compelled to pay any taxes that specially allocate, in whole or in part, monies for the purpose of a religion other than his own.
(3) Every religious group has the right—
(a) to manage its own religious affairs;
(b) to establish and maintain institutions for religious or charitable purposes; and
(c) to acquire and own property and hold and administer it according to law.
(4) State law and, with respect to the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, federal law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam.
(5) This Article does not authorize any act contrary to any general law relating to public order, health or morality.
Article 12: Rights with respect to education
(1) Without prejudice to the generality of Article 8, there shall be no discrimination against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, descent or place of birth—
(a) regarding the administration of any educational institution maintained by a public authority, and, in particular, regarding the admission of pupils or students or regarding the payment of fees, or
(b) regarding financial assistance from the funds of a public authority for the maintenance or education of pupils or students in any educational institution (whether maintained by a public authority or not, and whether within or outside the Federation).
(2) Every religious group has the right to establish and maintain institutions for the education of children in its own religion, and there should be no discrimination solely on grounds of religion in any law relating to institutions or in the administration of any such law, but it is lawful for the Federation or a State to establish or maintain or assist in establishing or maintaining Islamic institutions or to provide or assist in organizing the teaching of Islam and incur any necessary expenses for that purpose.
(3) No person shall be required to accept the teachings of a religion or to participate in any ceremony or ritual worship of a religion other than his own.
(4) For the purposes of Clause 3 the religion of a person under eighteen years of age shall be determined by his parent or guardian.
Article 34: Limits on the Power of the King
(1) The King shall not exercise his functions as Ruler of the land except for his function as the Head of the Islamic religion.
Article 38: Conference of Rulers
(1) There shall be a Conference of Rulers as established by the Fifth Schedule.
(2) The Conference of Rulers shall exercise its functions to—
(A) elect the King and the Deputy King (Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong) in accordance with the provisions of the Third Schedule;
(B) agree or not agree to any religious act, practice, or ceremony extended to the Federation as a whole;
…(6) Members of the Conference of Rulers may act using their discretion in any proceedings relating to the following functions, namely:
…(D) agreeing or not agreeing to any religious act, practice or ceremony extended to the Federation as a whole;
Article 42: The Power to Pardon, etc.
…(10) Notwithstanding anything in this Article, the power to forgive, delay laws and provide legal relief, or to remit, suspend or reduce the punishment imposed by any court established under any law regulating Islamic religious affairs in Malacca, Penang, Sabah or Sarawak of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya may be carried out by the King as the Head of the Islamic religion in the State.
Article 76: Power of Parliament to makes laws for the States in certain cases
(1) Parliament may make laws with respect to any matter referred to in the State List, but only as follows:
(A) for the purpose of implementing any treaty, agreement or convention between the Federation and any other country, or any decision of an international organization of which the Federation is a member;
(B) for the purpose of promoting uniformity of law between two or more states; or
(C) if so requested by the Legislative Assembly of any State.
(2) No law shall be made pursuant to paragraph A of Clause 1 with respect to any matter of Islamic law or custom of the Malays, or on any matter of law or custom in the States of Sabah and Sarawak, and no bill for a law under that paragraph may be carried in either House of Parliament that the Government of any concerned State has been consulted.
Article 97: Consolidated Fund
…(3) If in accordance with State law or, with respect to the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, according to federal law, any Zakat, Fitr, Baitulmal or similar Islamic religious revenue is raised, the proceeds shall be paid into a separate fund and shall be paid out except under the authority of State law or federal law, as the case may be.
Article 132: Public Services
(1) For the purposes of this Constitution, public services are—
(A) the armed forces;
(B) judicial and legal services;
(C) Federal services of the general public;
(D) the police force;
(F) public service together referred to in Article 133;
(G) any State civil service, and
(H) educational services.
(2) Except as otherwise expressly provided by this Constitution, qualifications for appointment and conditions of service of persons in the public services, other than those in the services referred to in Paragraph G of Clause 1, may be regulated by Federal law and, subject to the provisions of any such law, by the King; and eligibility for appointment and conditions of service of persons in the public service of any State shall be regulated by State law and, subject to the provisions of any such law, by the King or State Governor (Yang di-Pertua Negeri).
(2A) Except as otherwise expressly provided by this Constitution, every person who is a member of any service referred to in Paragraph A, B, C, D, F, and H of Clause 1 holds office with permission of the King, and, except as expressly provided by the State Constitution, every person who is a member of the public service of a State holds office with permission of the King or State Governor.
(3) The public service shall be treated as including—
(A) the office of any member of the administration of the Federation or a State;
(B) the office of the Speaker of the Senate (Yang di-Pertua Dewan Negara), Speaker of the House of Representatives (Yang di-Pertua Dewan Rakyat), Deputy Speaker of the Senate (Timbalan Yang di-Pertua Dewan Negara), Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives (Timbalan Yang di-Pertua Dewan Rakyat), the Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly (Dewan Undangan Negeri) or any member of Parliament or a State Legislative Assembly;
(C) the office of judge of the Federal Court (Mahkamah Persekutuan), Court of Appeal (Mahkamah Rayuan) or the High Court;
(D) the office of a member of any Commission or Council established by this Constitution or any corresponding Commission or Council established by the Constitution of a State;
(E) any diplomatic post set by order of the King, which, if not for the order, would be a general public service position in the Federation.
(4) References in this Part [of the Constitution], except in Article 136 and 147, to persons in the public service or to a member of any public service shall not apply to—
…(D) in Malacca and Penang, if provision is made by State law for their appointment—
(i) the Head of the Department of Religious Affairs;
(ii) the Secretary of the Department of Religious Affairs;
(iii) the Mufti;
(iv) the Chief Kadi (Kadi Besar); or
Article 145: The Attorney General
(1) The King shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint a person qualified to be a judge of the Federal Court as Attorney General of the Federation.
(2) The duties of the Attorney General shall be to advise the King, the Cabinet, or any Minister on any matter of law, to perform such other duties of law which from time to time shall be referred to assigned to him by the King or the Cabinet, and to discharge the functions conferred on him by or under this Constitution or any other written law.
(3) The Attorney General shall exercise the power at his discretion to initiate, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offense, other than proceedings before a Syariah court, a native court or a court-martial.
Article 150: Proclamation of Emergency
(1) If the King concludes that a major emergency is going to threaten security, economic life or public order within the Federation, the King may issue a Proclamation of Emergency making a declaration to that effect.
…(5) Subject to Clause 6A, while a Proclamation of Emergency is in force, Parliament may, notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, make laws with respect to any matter, if it appears to Parliament that the law is required by reason of the emergency, and Article 79 shall not apply to a Bill for a law or to an amendment to such a Bill, nor shall it apply to any provision of this Constitution or of any written law which requires consent or approval of its passing or of any negotiations about a restriction or enacting of a law after it has passed with the assent of the King.
(6) Subject to Clause 6A, no provision of any ordinance promulgated under this Article, and no provision of any Act of Parliament passed while the Proclamation of Emergency is in force and which Parliament declares to be required by reason of the emergency, shall be invalid on the grounds of inconsistency with any provision of this Constitution.
(6A) Clause 5 shall not give powers to Parliament on any matter of Islamic law or Malay custom or on any matter of law or custom in the States of Sabah and Sarawak, and there may not be any legal provisions under Clause 6 which are inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution relating to matters relating to religion, nationality or language.
Article 160: Interpretation
…(2) In this Constitution, unless the context requires otherwise, the following expressions have these meanings, namely—
…"Malay" (Orang Melayu) means a person who professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language, according to Malay custom…
Article 161C: Islamic religious education in the Borneo States (Repealed)
Article 161D: Freedom of religion (Repealed)
(Repealed) [ARDA Note: Prior to its repeal, this Article referred specifically to the Borneo States, not to Malaysia as a whole.]
Article 161E: Protection of the constitutional position of the States of Sabah and Sarawak
…(2) No amendment may be made to this Constitution without the consent of the President of the State of Sabah or the President of the State of Sarawak where Sabah and Sarawak as concerned, if the amendment affects the operation of this Constitution with respect to any of the following:
…(D) religion in the state…
Fourth Schedule: Oath of Office of the King and Deputy King
Part I: Oath of the King
We…[name] son of [name], the King of Malaysia do hereby swear:
Wallahi: Wabillahi: Watallahi:
and by virtue of that oath do solemnly and truly declare that We shall justly and faithfully perform (carry out) our duties in the administration of Malaysia in accordance with its laws and Constitution which have been promulgated or which may be promulgated from time to time in the future. Further We do solemnly and truly declare that We shall at all times protect the Religion of Islam and uphold the rules of law and order in the country.
Fifth Schedule: Conference of Rulers
…(7) The President of a State that does not have a Ruler shall be a member of the Conference of Rulers for the purposes of any proceedings relating to the election or removal of the King or the election of the Deputy King or those associated solely with the privileges, position, eminence and greatness of His Royal Majesty the King or religious acts, practices or rituals.
Eighth Schedule: Provisions to be added to the State Constitution
… 1(2). The King shall act in his discretion in carrying out the following functions (in addition to the functions that the King can do in acting in his discretion under the Federal Constitution), namely:
…(c) requesting a meeting of the Conference of Rulers concerned solely with the privileges, position, eminence and greatness of Their Highnesses the Rulers or religious acts, practices or rituals.
(d) other functions as the Chairman of the Islamic religion or in relation to Malay custom;
Annual Financial Statements
…14(3). Estimated receipts reflected in these statements do not include any sums received by way of Zakat, Fitr, Baitulmal or similar Islamic religious revenue, and the amount of money to be shown under paragraph (b) of subsection (2) does not include:
(a) the amount of money representing the proceeds of any loan raised by the State for specific purposes and appropriated for that purpose by the law authorizing the loan;
(b) sums representing any money or interest on money received by the State which are subject to a trust and should be used in accordance with the terms of the trust;
(c) sums representing any money held by the State which has been received or appropriated for the purposes of any trust fund established by or under Federal or State law…
19(1). The following provisions of this section affect amendments to the Constitution of this State…
(6) This section of the shall not invalidate any provision of the Constitution of this State which requires the consent of any group of persons against any amendments that affect—
…(c) the appointment and special nature of the Speaker-Ruling (Pembesar-Pembesar Memerintah) or Malay traditional chiefs and members of advisory councils of religion or custom, or other similar bodies;…
List I – Federal Register
1. Foreign affairs include—
…(h) pilgrimage to places outside Malaysia.
(a) The membership and composition of all courts other than the Syariah Court;
(e) Subject to paragraph (ii), the following:
(i) Contracts; partnerships, agencies and other special contracts; the employer and servant; inns and inn-keepers; actionable wrongs; property and its transfer and hypothecation, except land, bona vacantia; equity and trusts; marriage, divorce and legitimacy; wealth and status of married women; interpretation of federal law; negotiable instruments; statutory declaration; arbitration; mercantile law; business registration and naming; the age of adulthood, infancy and minority; adoption; inheritance, testate and intestate; probate and letters of administration; bankruptcy and insolvency; oaths and affirmations; limitation; reciprocal enforcement of judgments and orders; and the law of evidence;
(ii) The matters referred to in paragraph (i) do not include Islamic personal law relating to marriage, divorce, custody, maintenance, adoption, legitimacy, family law, gifts of succession, testate and intestate;
…(k) Ascertainment of Islamic law and other persona laws of purposes of federal law…
12. Surveys, investigation and research, including
(a) Census, birth and death registration, marriage registration, and the registration of adoptions other than adoptions under Islamic law or Malay custom;…
15. Labor and social security, including—
…(c) Funeral and charitable institutions; charitable trusts and trustees excluding endowment; Hindu endowments
List II – State List
1. Except within the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, Islamic law and personal and family law of those who profess the religion of Islam, including Islamic law relating to succession, testate and intestate, betrothal, marriage, divorce, dowry, maintenance, adoption, legitimacy, guardianship, gifts, partitions and non-charitable trusts, endowments, and institutions, trusts, charities and charitable institutions of Islam operating wholly within the State; Malay customs; Zakat, Fitr, Baitulmal or similar Islamic religious revenue, mosques or any other public place of worship for Muslims, creation and punishment of offenses against the law committed by persons professing the religion of Islam, except with respect to matters included in the Federal Register, the composition, structure and procedure of Syariah courts, which shall have jurisdiction only over persons professing the religion of Islam, and only with respect to any matter contained in this paragraph, but shall not have jurisdiction in respect to the office expect to the extent provided by federal law, regulation of the development of doctrine and belief among persons professing the religion of Islam; and determining the matter of Islamic law and doctrine and Malay custom.
Part III: Revenue Sources assigned to States
…13. Zakat, Fitr, Baitulmal or similar Islamic religious revenue
1. Data under the "Features of Constitution" heading are drawn from coding of the U.S. State Department's 2008 International Religious Freedom Reports conducted by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the International Religious Freedom reports. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.
2. The constitutional excerpts shown above are reproduced from the websites given in the "Source" field; the links to these websites were active as of May 2011. Where the constitutional text shown on these websites was provided in a language other than English, this text was translated to English by ARDA staff with assistance from web-based translation utilities such as Google Translate and Yahoo! Babel Fish. Constitutional text was converted to American English where applicable. Constitutional clauses were judged to contain religious content based largely on the standards used in the construction of the Religion and State Constitutions Dataset collected by Jonathan Fox. Emphases were added to the text by ARDA staff to highlight religious content in articles that also contain content that does not pertain to matters of religion. The data on this page were correct to the best of the knowledge of the ARDA as of the date listed in the "Current as of" field shown above. Please contact us at email@example.com if you are aware of any incorrect information provided on this page.