Category: Right to freedom of religion (Article 15)

Return of Judicial Power: Religious Freedom and the Tussle over Jurisdictional Boundaries in Malaysia (I-CONnect Column) by Jaclyn L. Neo

Palace of Justice, Putrajaya by Trebz [CC0], via the Wikimedia Commons.

The following post, written by Dr. Jaclyn L. Neo, was published on I-CONnect Blog on 15 March 2018. While it examines judicial power and amendments in Malaysia, the judgment makes extensive reference to developments in Singapore concerning judicial power and the basic structure doctrine. The Malaysian Federal Court held that judicial power, particularly the power of judicial review, is part of the basic structure of the Malaysian constitution. While it did not strike down the amendments that sought to remove judicial power, it nonetheless used the idea of a basic structure to limit the scope of the amendments. The Malaysian judgment thus offers important insights into the doctrinal possibilities of a basic structure.

The ‘S’ word strikes again: Today Article Don’t impose beliefs on others: interactions in society should be secular.’, quoth Shan

Thio Li-ann
Professor of Law,
National University of Singapore

TBPT seem to be going on about the ground rules for religious expression and secular interaction again. In an article titled “Don’t impose beliefs on others: interactions in society should be secular.’ (Today, 19 April 2010), Law Minister Shan is reported as stating: “Religious beliefs must remain private and should not be imposed on others – but it can be used to promote good values that all can agree on”.

It was also reported: Interaction in society, he said, should be based on secular values and arguments, as it would be difficult for people to accept arguments based on another person’s religious beliefs. But, Mr Shanmugam added, “if you put forward that argument on the basis it is in the best interest of the community and put it forward on a logical secular basis, then people can accept it”.

The article by Alicia Wong also referred to recent ministerial statements relating to securing secular common space. Specifically:

1. How religious groups are increasingly holding worship events at commercial venues

2. How religious groups are getting involved in business

3. how religious groups are becoming “more assertive in evangelising.”

The solution? The touting of the “S” word, secularism. Continue reading

The Sacred in the Public

Thio Li-ann
Professor of Law
National University of Singapore

A speech delivered by Deputy PM Wong Kan Seng delivered at an ISD intelligence service promotion ceremony was reported on in Today (April 15, 2010) entitled: ‘Growing religious assertiveness a concern’. The full text of the speech is available at here.

It made me reflect again on matters of ‘secularism’ and religious freedom, which has been a recurrent theme in our nation’s history and has featured prominently in political discourse of late. Continue reading