Visitor No since 22-10-98
Moderation is the key, says lawyer E-mail
Monday, 09 February 2015
The Star 

by Adrian Chan  

Moderation is the key, says lawyer
One for the album: Liow (right) posing with speakers at the forum (from left) Dr Tan Chong Tin, Datuk Dr Hou Kok Chung, Tan, Tan Sri Dr Ghauth Jasmon, Prof Mohamad and Dr Chandra (front).
KUALA LUMPUR:
Moderation is the key that opened the door to the formation of our Federal Constitution, says lawyer Roger Tan Kor Mee. 

“Our Constitution is moderate and balances the competing interests of the country’s various communities.

“If not for moderation, we would not have been able to put together a written constitution,” said Tan, who is also a columnist for The Star.

He said while the Constitution guaranteed many rights for the citizens, it also demanded that moderation be exercised with self-restraint, self-control and self-discipline.

“The thought of resorting to violence should never even cross the mind of anyone,” he said.

Tan added that in a moderate society, a person should be able to hold a rational discourse with his peers even on sensitive issues affecting his community.

Sharing Tan’s views was Dr Chandra Muzaffar, who advised that different races should speak honestly to each other in dispelling the racial stereotype placed on each ethnic group.
 
Case for judicial review E-mail
Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Sunday Star
Legally Speaking by Roger Tan

Case for judicial review
Landmark judgment: In the Nov 7 decision of the Court of Appeal in Muhamad Juzaili Bin Mohd Khamis & Ors v Negri Sembilan State Government, 2014, the court struck down section 66 of the Syariah Criminal Enactment (Negeri Sembilan), 1992 which criminalises Muslim men for cross-dressing, as unconstitutional.

Is judicial review the correct procedure to challenge the validity of a statute?

IN the last two weeks, two interesting cases relating to homosexual and cross-dressing men were dealt with by the appeals courts in Singapore and Malaysia. However, the manner in which the two courts interpreted the equipollent provisions of our respective Constitution, described as consanguineous with one another as well as that of the United States and India, differed sharply.

In the Singapore case of Lim Meng Suang vs Attorney General, 2014, the highest court in Singapore, the Court of Appeal, ruled in a 101-page judgment on Oct 29 that section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises physical intimacy and sex between men, was not unconstitutional.

The appeals were brought by gay couple Lim Meng Suang and Kenneth Chee Mun-Leon who have been in a romantic and sexual relationship for the past 15 years, and Tan Eng Hong who had been arrested for engaging in oral sex with another man in a public toilet cubicle in 2010.

In a nutshell, the appellants had questioned the constitutionality of section 377A on the following grounds:

> that it infringed Article 9 of the Singapore Constitution (SC) that “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in accordance with law”;

> that it infringed Article 12 SC in that “all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law”; and

> that section 377A was a colonial legislation incorporated into the Singapore Penal Code in 1938 when she was a British colony and prior to the promulgation of SC.

Senior Counsel Deborah Barker (daughter of Singapore’s first post-Independence Minister of Law, EW Barker) argued for the gay couple that the right to life and personal liberty under Article 9 should also include a limited right of privacy and personal autonomy allowing a person to enjoy and express affection and love towards another human being.

Delivering the judgment of the court, Justice Andrew Phang Boon Leong ruled that the phrase “life or personal liberty” in Article 9 when read in entirety refers only to a person’s freedom from an unlawful deprivation of life and unlawful detention or incarceration. Period.

He went on to caution that foreign cases (with particular references to those decided by the Indian Supreme Court) that have conferred an expansive constitutional right to life and liberty should be approached with circumspection because they were decided in the context of their unique social, political and legal circumstances.

As regards Article 12 SC, the court applied the Malaysian case of Malaysian Bar v Government of Malaysia, 1987 in that to determine the constitutionality of a statute under Article 12 SC, the test is one of reasonable or permissible classification. It is a two-stage test which is applied only if the impugned statute is discriminatory in nature.

In other words, any law that treats people differently can still be held as constitutional if it passes this test.

 
© 2015 Roger Tan :: www.rtkm.com