O Bitter Pill to Swallow: Separating Ratio from Dicta in Maria Chin Abdullah

This article discusses the Malaysian Federal Court's decision in Maria Chin Abdullah v DG of Immigration in January 2021. It critiques the majority judgment of Rahman Sebli FCJ, and discusses the fate of the basic structure doctrine at Malaysian law post-Maria Chin.

The article also considers the underlying disagreement between the majority and dissenting judges in Maria Chin, namely the constitutionality of the 1988 amendment to art. 121 of the Federal Constitution. Whilst disagreeing with the 'reading down' argument made by Tengku Maimun CJ, it suggests an alternative route where the basic structure doctrine is read into art. 121, thus answering at least part of the formalist challenge to the basic structure doctrine's existence. Ultimately, however, it argues that striking down the 1988 amendment is the best way to lay this issue to rest.