Change and Continuity: The Constitutional Head of State and Democratic Transitions in Malaysia
Malayan Law Journal (2012) 5, pp. i- xxiv
This article revisits and reﬂects upon the role of the constitutional head of state in times of democratic changes. It argues that the head of state in the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy plays an important gatekeeping function on behalf of the political sovereign, the People of Malaysia. This argument is made through an examination of the 2009 constitutional crisis in Perak (one of Malaysia’s constituent states). Although the events occurred on the state level, Malaysian politics have been in flux since the General Elections of 2008, and the same issues could arise on the federal level if a political turnover arises in the next general elections. There has not been a change of government at the federal level in Malaysia, and thus the critical question of how the constitution manages and guides political transitions has never been put to test there.
This article investigates this question by examining the role of the constitutional head of state, arguing that the head of state primary objectives in ensuring the smooth and peaceful transition of government is to secure the electoral choices of the political sovereign — the People of Malaysia.