Constitution literacy programme to educate the public

  • Nation
  • Monday, 04 Aug 2014

Awareness push: Participants listening to Saifuddin (right) as he makes a point at the model United Nations conference at Sunway University in Petaling Jaya.

PETALING JAYA: A Constitution literacy programme in schools, tertiary institutions and the public sector is one of the proposals to be put forward to the Prime Minister by the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) in its first national unity report.

NUCC’s Law and Policy committee member Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the programme was needed to provide Malaysians with the appropriate interpretation of the Federal Constitution.

“This is because we have even come across people who are part of the decision-making process who do not understand the Constitution.

“We do not want people to interpret the Constitution wrongly,” he said after attending a roundtable discussion on national unity by the Selangor Model United Nations (Selangor MUN) last week.

Saifuddin stressed that the programme need not be a formal subject in schools and that it would help people understand that there may be laws and enactments contradicting the Constitution.

“They will then also understand the need to reconcile by amending these Acts or state enactments that contradict the Federal Constitution.

“The last objective of the proposed literacy programme is to ensure there will be no rewriting or amending the Constitution through other channels,” he added.

As there were already groups promoting Constitution literacy, the NUCC is proposing to work with these groups to further spread awareness on the subject.

An example Saifuddin referred to was the MyConstitution (MyConsti) campaign by the Bar Council, which has been running in Malaysia since 2009.

The group run by Malaysian lawyers was developed from the initial idea of a two-year campaign to educate the public about constitutional awareness, their rights as citizens of Malaysia as well as the way the country is run.

On another issue, Saifuddin said his committee was also compiling feedback on the proposed harmony bills, which the NUCC had been mandated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to prepare.

Consisting of the National Harmony and Reconciliation Bill, the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission Bill, and the Racial and Religious Hate Crimes Bill, the bills are part of a blueprint to strengthen national unity and integration.

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