Curtin Sarawak hosts MyConstitution Campaign launch and workshop

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Lim Swee Huat presenting Professor Kerr a copy of the Malaysian Constitution.

Miri – 27 September 2011 – Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) recently hosted the launch of the MyConstitution (PerlembagaanKu) Campaign at its campus in collaboration with the Advocates Association of Sarawak (Miri Branch).

The launch, which was jointly officiated by the Honourable Judicial Commissioner of the Miri High Court, Justice Stephen Chung, and the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Curtin Sarawak, Professor Ian Kerr, was followed by a MyConstitution Workshop for students and staff of the university.

Also present at the launch was Lim Swee Huat, Chairman of the Advocates Association of Sarawak (Miri Branch), its treasurer David Teo, and other members of the association, as well as some 50 staff and students of the university.

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Justice Stephen Chung giving his speech at the launch.

The MyConstitution Campaign is intended to reach out to young people aged 18 to 35, as the future leaders of Malaysia, to enhance their awareness and understanding of the country’s constitution.

In his opening speech, Justice Chung pointed out that the Malaysian Constitution, as the supreme law of the country, sets up the nation’s democratic system and provides for the separation of powers, the rights of its people and the rule of law. Subject to certain restrictions, it safeguards the liberty of each citizen; equality before the law; freedom of speech, assembly and association; and freedom of religion. In many ways, it is comparable to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

He hoped that the students and staff, after attending the MyConstitution Workshop, would be able to lead and influence their peer groups in informed and intelligent discussions on constitutional issues, especially on social media like Facebook and Twitter so that they may become a voice of reason and restraint when they get messages calling for mass demonstrations or riots which may be destructive to lives and property, as seen in other countries.

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Professor Ian Kerr delivering his speech.

Professor Kerr, on his speech, commented that the launch of the campaign was most timely seeing as Malaysia has just marked Malaysia Day to commemorate the formation of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963.

He said the roles of Sarawak and Sabah in the formation of the country, and the special privileges and legislative powers granted to them under the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, are very interesting as they are intrinsic to the Malaysian Constitution and the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia.

He noted that throughout the Malaysia’s 48 years, its constitution has been generally honoured and remains a relevant and powerful structure, and that Malaysians generally have a good knowledge of the country’s constitution and are increasingly aware of their constitutional rights.

Professor Kerr added that all Malaysians should be aware of the Constitution’s articles, their basic fundamental rights, and the colourful history behind the Constitution – from the Constitutional Conference in London in 1956, to the formation of the Reid Commission and the enactment of the constitution in 1957, to the significant amendments when Sarawak, Sabah and Singapore joined the Federation to form Malaysia in 1963.

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Adrian Lee Chew, one of the facilitators of the MyConstitution Workshop.

He expressed hopes that, with the MyConstitution campaign and other efforts of the Advocates Association of Sarawak, Sarawakians will be driven to know more about the Malaysian Constitution and exercise their rights as citizens of Malaysia.

The launch concluded with the presentation of a copy of the Malaysian Constitution by Advocates Association of Sarawak (Miri Branch) chairman Lim Swee Huat to Professor Kerr.

The launch was followed by the MyConstitution Workshop conducted by Adrian Lee Chew of the Advocates Association (Sibu Branch) and Desmond Sahathevan of the association’s Kuching branch, who are also the chairman and deputy chairman of the MyConstitution (Sarawak) campaign.

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