Towards A History Of Law In Malaysia And Singapore formed the text of the Inaugural Braddell lecture delivered at the University of Singapore in 1970. A plea was made for the study of the development of the law in Malaysia and Singapore and as a pioneer attempt in creating an interest in this ﬁeld it was considered worth of publication. There have however been considerable development in the law both in Malaysia and Singapore. The Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act, 1976 which come into force in 1982 has transformed the family law for non-Muslims and made a number of reforms in the light of the resolution of the United Nations Convention on consent to marry, minimum age of marriage and registration of marriage.
There has also been an increasing acceptance of the Syariah Courts and the administration of the Islamic Law. The Syariah Courts have been separated from the Council of Islamic Religion and have been organised in three levels, that is, the Syariah Subordinate Court, The Syariah High Court and the Syariah Court of Appeal. The status and position of the Syariah Courts and their judges and ofﬁcials have been raised and provisions have been made for their training. New laws relating to the administration of the Islamic Law, the Syariah Courts, the Syariah criminal and civil procedure and the Islamic law of evidence have been enacted. Islamic law has become an important part of the curriculum of law schools, particularly at the International Islamic University where an attempt has been made to integrate the study of the Syariah and the civil law. The Federal Constitution now provides that the High Court and courts subordinate to it shall have no jurisdiction in any matter which falls within the jurisdiction of the Syariah Courts.
In the meantime the Civil Law Act 1956 still provides for the application of the English Common Law and English rules of equity where there is no written law. There has been a move to have a Malaysian Common Law. Appeals to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and their reference to the Privy Council have been abolished and there is now a Supreme Court with the possibility in the near future of the setting up of a Court of Appeal. The use of Malay language in the Courts has been strengthened and the language of the courts is changing from English to Malay.
“… it was still possible to speak of the history of law in Malaya in terms of reception of English law. With the establishment of Malaysia, however, the emphasis has or should change. Native customary law plays a much more important part in East Malaysia than it does in West Malaysia. It is not that this was not always true-but the emphasis needs to be changed, and it is fitting and perhaps necessary that we should take a larger perspective in Malaysia.”