Malaysia charter 'doesn't provide for secession'

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's Constitution does not provide for the secession of any state from the country, legal experts have said, following a report last week in which Johor's Crown Prince warned that the southern state could secede from Malaysia if any of its terms of agreement was breached.

The Malay Mail Online news portal yesterday cited legal experts as saying the country's Constitution did not specifically address the issue of secession.

One constitutional law practitioner, Mr New Sin Yew, said the issue was "more political than legal" in nature, and that constitutional amendments were not impossible. The federal Constitution is silent on the issue, he said, "unlike in Sabah, where it specifically mentions in the Malaysia Agreement that (the state) cannot secede".

The Malaysia Agreement refers to the memorandum signed between Malaya and Sabah for the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

The secession issue has been in focus after Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim suggested in an interview last week that Johor could choose to secede if any of its terms of agreement under its membership of the Federation of Malaysia was breached. He made the comments in an interview with a sports magazine that was posted on the Facebook page of the Johor Southern Tigers football club.

The ruler of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Ismail, and his family members have in recent months received mostly public support for speaking out on political issues plaguing Malaysia, including on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal and against the increasingly racial overtones in the national political debate.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2015, with the headline 'Malaysia charter 'doesn't provide for secession''. Print Edition | Subscribe