The Constitution of a State may be defined as “a collection of principles according to which the powers of the government, the rights of the governed and the relations between the two are adjusted.” In other words, it may be described as “a frame of political society organised through and by law, in which law has established permanent institution with recognised functions and definite rights”.
Like political organisations and systems, constitutions have their own varieties. The Malaysian Constitution is a written constitution, which in turn based on basic principles of the British government and constitutional conventions. The Malaysian Constitution, therefore, has rightly been described as based upon the ‘Westminster’ model.
Constitutions are drafted by specially appointed commissions. In Malaysia, the Reid Commission
was formed and given the task of preparing a report on the Constitution. The Commission consisted of five persons under the Chairmanship of Lord Reid, a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary.
In 1956, this Commission held consultations with various segments of the people of Malaya, and the Report of the Constitutional Commission was published in 1957. The modern Malaysian Constitution is largely based upon that report.
The Reid Commission was asked to make recommendations for Federal form of Constitution for the whole country as a single, self-governing unit within the Commonwealth, based on parliamentary democracywith a bicameral legislature, which would include provision for:
- establishment of a strong Central Government with the States enjoying a measure of autonomy and with machinery for consultation between the Central and State governments on certain financial matters to be specified in the Constitution.
- safeguarding of the position and prestige of Their Highnesses as constitutional Rulers of their respective States;
- constitutional Head of State, the Yang di Pertuan Agong, for the Federation to be chosen from among Their Highnesses the Rulers.
- safeguarding of the special position in the present Constitution of Malaysia and constitute its important basic features.
The above provisions are maintained in the present Constitution of Malaysia and constitute its important basic features.