Malaysia’s constitution will become the first to provide for the rights of minorities under the country’s new multi-racial constitution.
Malaysia’s national constitution, which came into effect on Sunday, gives rights to Muslims to a degree previously reserved only for Malays and other minorities.
The new constitution, titled the Malaysia Constitution, was passed by a majority vote of 227-191 in the national parliament.
The constitution’s language is expected to include a provision that gives all ethnic Malays the right to be given the right of equal protection under the law, which would make it possible for them to have their civil rights respected.
Under Malaysia’s previous constitution, minorities such as Christians, Buddhists and Ahmadis were given the same rights under the Malaysia Citizenship Act (MCAA) and were granted citizenship.
Under the new constitution however, Christians will be given a “minority” status in the country.
There are currently only 10 Christian-majority electorates in Malaysia, according to the Malaysian Commission for Christian Citizenship.
Malaysian President Datuk Seri Najib Razak said he expected to sign the constitution into law in coming weeks.
Najib also said he was ready to introduce the new constitutional to the National Assembly, which will be reconvened in the coming weeks to draft a new constitution.
“It is an important step to ensure that minorities have a place in the Malaysian Constitution, as well as in the future Malaysia,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
“We are also confident that the law on the rights and freedoms of minorities will also include provisions that protect the rights enshrined in the Malaysia Constitutional Convention, which was adopted in 2013.”
This means that it will be more than just a matter of signing the Constitution.