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Constitutions, Religion and Politics in Asia
Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka

$29.00 ( ) USD

Part of Comparative Constitutional Law and Policy

  • Date Published: November 2017
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781316873755

$ 29.00 USD ( )
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About the Authors
  • As religious polarisation in society deepens, political actors and policy-makers have begun to struggle with questions on the role of the dominant religion and how religion influences constitutional commitments and development. By focusing on Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, Constitutions, Religion and Politics in Asia demonstrates how constitution-making and the operation of constitutional arrangements involving religion cannot be separated from the broader political dynamics of society. Although constitutions establish legal and political structures of government institutions and provide tools for rights protection, they do not operate in a vacuum divorced from the games of power and the political realities surrounding them. Here, Shah sets out how constitutions operate and evolve, and demonstrates how constitutional provisions can produce unintended consequences over time. A vital new source of scholarship for students and scholars of law and religion, and comparative constitutional law, and those interested in issues of constitutionalism and legal and political history in Asia.

    • Using comparative insights from three religiously plural countries, Shah examines the interactions between constitutional law, religion and politics, providing important new analysis for students and scholars of constitutional politics, constitutionalism and democracy in plural and divided societies
    • Explains the origins, contexts and motivations behind constitutional provisions on religion in Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, drawing upon historical documents and interview data, and giving new insights for those interested in constitution-making and legal and political history in Asia
    • Provides an incisive analysis of the interpretation and application of constitutional commitments on religion over time, appealing to scholars and policy-makers working in constitutional reforms and constitutional practices involving religion and fundamental rights
    • Offers an explanation for the dominant trends and patterns on state practices and policies involving religion, especially suitable fo
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    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘This book contains highly sophisticated and detailed comparative legal research. It uncovers the historical context in which constitutional religious freedoms came into being in Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka to explain how this informs modern day interpretation and application of these freedoms. It offers a very convincing explanation for the violation of religious freedoms in these countries, despite constitutional protections, examining a variety of issues including electoral processes, judicial decision-making and broader political contexts.' Simon Butt, Sydney Law School

    ‘In this incisive and revealing comparative analysis, Dian A. H. Shah tracks the experience of three religiously plural societies with religious freedom. She unearths the origins of their constitutional clauses on religion, showing how they were intended to provide robust guarantees for all religions, and then explains the unraveling of these guarantees in practice. Close linkages have developed between majority religions and the state, to the detriment of minority faiths, and neither constitutional text, nor judicial review, nor political remedies has proved to be availing for minorities. Exploring with great care the affinities and disparities among her three cases, the author paints a discerning portrait of majority rule out of balance and the conundrums this creates for constitutionalists. This book is a signal contribution to comparative law and politics.' Donald. L Horowitz, James B. Duke Professor of Law and Political Science Emeritus, Duke University, North Carolina

    ‘In an increasingly post-secular world, we are keen to ask how religion should be dealt with as a matter of constitutional status and fundamental rights. We are also keen to know how religion influences constitutional development over time. These questions loom in complex and pressing ways, everywhere, but in Asia, with its historic religious pluralism, divided societies and varied political contexts, there is much experience on these issues which we should learn. Dian A. H. Shah has produced a highly original book discussing these issues and how they have been approached in three critical countries: Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. I cannot commend this book highly enough for its profound insights and its impressive, knowledgeable and careful analysis of these three important cases.' Andrew Harding, National University of Singapore

    'This is a learned work on constitutional approaches to religious freedom. The author provides an incisive study of the constitution-making process in three deeply divided Asian polities. Their differing approaches to and models of constitutionalizing religious freedom are put forward as possible lessons for other fragmented societies. At the same time, we are alerted to the gap between theory and reality; the impact of electoral politics and religious nationalism; the link between religion and ethnicity; and the role of non-state actors in diminishing society’s commitment to religious pluralism. Ultimately a Constitution is what happens, and the author shows that a bill of rights and an independent judiciary are not the bulwarks they are expected to be. This book may encourage further studies on the formulation of 'religion clauses' and the design of judicial institutions.' Shad Saleem Faruqi, Tunku Abdul Rahman Professor of Law, University of Malaya

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2017
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781316873755
    • contains: 2 tables
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Three constitutional arrangements on religion
    3. Religion and religious freedom in public life
    4. Religious freedom in divided societies and the role of the state
    5. Constitutional adjudication on religion and religious freedom
    6. Judicial institutions and the rule of law deficit
    7. Religion, electoral politics and religious freedom
    8. Conclusion.

  • Author

    Dian A. H. Shah, National University of Singapore
    Dian A. H. Shah is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Asian Legal Studies, National University of Singapore. She previously taught at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya, where she remains a faculty appointee. Her research interests span the fields of constitutional history, comparative constitutional law and human rights, focusing on issues arising from the interaction between constitutional law, religion and politics in Asia. She has published widely in international journals and collaborative academic publications, and has presented her research at conferences and seminars worldwide. She is also a frequent guest lecturer at universities in Indonesia.

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