Constitutional 'Soft' Law and the Management of Religious Liberty and Order: The 2003 Declaration on Religious Harmony
30 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2006
In June 2003, the government adopted the Declaration on Religious Harmony as part of a multi-pronged strategy to address the problem of aggravated ethnic-religious relations, heightened after the discovery of the bomb plot masterminded by Jemaah Islamiah, a group affiliated with Al Qaeda. This instrument belongs to a corpus of 'constitutional soft law', a set of precepts embodied in a text lacking legal status which exerts some degree of legal impact and influences the shaping of state-society relations. Such informal standards shed light on the politico-legal culture, process values of participatory democracy and the practical workings of institutional restraints on public power and governance. This article examines the role of these informal standards within the context of a written constitution, with a particular focus on the Declaration - whose principles have implications for the scope and practice of religious liberty in Singapore, a secular state with a religious society.
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