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No partners in Malaysia, only States and Territories — Hafiz Hassan

Publish date: Sat, 15 Jun 2024, 06:46 PM

JUNE 15 — In ”Know what a federation is” I sought to explain three distinct and defining characteristics that make a federation different from other political systems.

I should have perhaps started with explaining the term “federation” itself. It is derived from the Latin word foedus which means “treaty” or “agreement”.

According to the Oxford Classical Dictionary, foedus (pl foedera) means “a treaty, solemnly enacted, which established friendship, peace and alliance between Rome and another state in perpetuity.”

A foedus was distinct from indutiae (‘truce’), which ended a state of war and lasted for an agreed number of years (up to a century).

Treaties of alliance (foedera — hence “federation” etc.) were either equal or unequal. An equal treaty (foedus aequum) set both parties on an equal footing, and enjoined each to give military assistance to the other in the event of a hostile attack.

In an unequal treaty (foedus iniquum) the second party was required to acknowledge and respect the maiestas (lit. “greaterness”) of the Roman people, and was effectively compelled to provide Rome with military forces on demand.

In modern terms, a federation is a new state (political system) that is formed through a treaty or an agreement between the various units. The units of a federation are known by various names, like states (as in the US) or cantons (as in Switzerland) or provinces (as in Canada) or republics (as in Russia).

There are no partners in a federation, only units or constituents known by various names.

Malaysia is a federation of units known as states. The treaty that establishes Malaysia is the Agreement Relating to Malaysia which came into force on September 16, 1963 (better known as Malaysia Day) No. 10760 (better known as MA63).

Article 1 of MA63 states as follows:

“The Colonies of North Borneo and Sarawak and the State of Singapore shall be federated with the existing States of the Federation of Malaya as the States of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore in accordance with the constitutional instruments annexed to this Agreement and the Federation shall thereafter be called ‘Malaysia’.”

The constitutional instrument annexed to MA63 is the Malaysia Bill. Article 4 of the Bill states as follows:

Article 4 above is now Article 1 of the Federal Constitution. Malaysia now excludes Singapore and includes the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur established under the Constitution (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1973, the Federal Territory of Putrajaya established under the Constitution (Amendment) Act 2001 and the Federal Territory of Labuan established under the Constitution (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1984 — Article 1(4).

So clearly there are no partners in Malaysia, only States and Territories.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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