23 Malaya L. Rev. 213 (1981)
Article 9(1) and Fundamental Principles of Natural Justice in the Constitution of Singapore

handle is hein.journals/sjls23 and id is 219 raw text is: 23 Mal. L.R.

ARTICLE 9(1) AND
FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF NATURAL JUSTICE
IN THE CONSTITUTION OF SINGAPORE
Given the normative character of Constitutional Law the question,
What is the meaning to be assigned to the term law found in Article
9(1)i (and in Article 12(l))2 of the Constitution of Singapore?
assumes enormous importance. Though this same, or similar, question
had been posed before in relation to the Indian,3 Malaysian4 and
Burmese 5 provisions, the Privy Council's authority has now been lent
in Ong A h Chuan v P.P 6 to propositions that have the effect of re-
opening the issue again. The question cannot be dismissed as elemen-
tary   Indeed, there has always been scope for a wider interpretation
of these life and liberty provisions, and striking in this regard is
the transformation of the Indian Supreme Court from the era of
A.K. Gopalan v Madras7 to the decision in Maneka Gandhi v Union
of India 8 relied upon by the appellants in Ong Ah Chuan. But any
expansion in scope through reliance on Natural Justice has its own
criticsY Pragmatists who disapprove of wholly theoretical Natural
1 9.- (1) No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save
in accordance with law. See the Reprint of the Constitution of the Republic
of Singapore, dated 31st March 1980, hereinafter referred to as the Constitution.
2 The rationes in the two Privy Council decisions of Ong Ah Chuan v P.P
[1981] 2 M.L.J. 64, (1981) A.C. 648 and Haw Tua Tau v. P.P [1981] 2 M.L.J.
49, forming the subject matter of this essay extend to both Arts. 9(l) and 12(1)
But it is felt by this writer that Art. 12(1) requires a separate treatment since
the provision is different, in many ways, from Art. 9(1)  The law regarding
constitutional equality - a principle of Natural Justice, itself - may or may
not be able to co-exist with other unspecified fundamental principles of Natural
Justice  Therefore, it is essential to examine these question in a separate and
detailed treatment of Art. 12(1) in the light of the P.C.'s rationes in these two
cases.
3 A.K. Gopalan v. Madras A.I.R. 1950 S.C. 27
4 Arumugam Pillai v. Govt. of Malaysia [1975] 2 M.L.J. 29.
5 Tinsa Maw Naing v. Commissioner of Police [1950] Burma Law Reports 17
Rules of Natural Law are as the mirage which ever recedes from the traveller
seeking to reach it.  For a report of the case see also Harry E. Groves,
Comparative Constitutional Law- Cases and Materials, Oceana (1963)
6 [1981] 1 M.L.J. 64.
7 See note 3.
8 (1978) Supreme Court Reports 621.
9 None has been more vehement amongst the Benthamites in criticising Natural
Law than Bentham himself. Consider his reaction to the French Declaration
of Rights of Man and the Citizen:
Look to the letter, you find nonsense-look beyond the letter, you find
nothing   there are no such things as natural rights-no such things as
natural rights opposed to, in contradistinction to legal  Natural rights
is simple nonsense: natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetoric nonsense-
nonsense upon stilts. But this rhetoric nonsense ends in the old strain of
mischievous nonsense. - Anarchical fallacies: Works (Ed. Bownng), Vol.
II, 497 500 and 501, London (1843)  For the links between Natural Law
and Natural Justice, see F.E. Dowrick, Justice according to the English
Common Lawyers, London, 1961, 46.

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