Unorthodox Lawmaking in Omnibus Law

By: Sonny Zulhuda

In this International Seminar on “Omnibus Law in Indonesia: A Comparative Study With Other Countries” (click the Poster here), held by the Faculty of Law, Universitas Brawijaya, Malang, Indonesia, I aim to discuss the nature, scope and experience of Omnibus legislation in Malaysian perspective.

The background of this seminar is the recent enactment of the Omnibus Law in Indonesia entitled: Undang-undang Cipta Kerja (or a ‘Job Creation Law’) which drew nation-wide criticism and opposition.

My task is not to discuss or comment on that controversial law, bur rather to share with the audience on the nature of “omnibus legislation” and how it has been used in Malaysia in the past.

Omnibus legislation (or bill) is a legislation that packages together several measures into one or combines diverse subjects into a single law/bill. This definition is used by the US Congress Glossary. Gluck, O’Connell, & Po in their work: “Unorthodox Lawmaking, Unorthodox Rulemaking,” published in Columbia Law Review 115 (2015): 1789.

They defines Omnibus law as legislations “that bring together many different subjects, depart from conventional process in multiple ways, often comprise “mini-bills”- separate pieces of legislation, or separate topics within a single subject, drafted by different committees and linked together.”

Reference to omnibus law as an unorthodox (unusual, non-conventional) phase of law-making process is also found in the 2012 book of Barbara Sinclair entitled “Unorthodox Lawmaking: New Legislative Processes in the U.S. Congress.” Many other writers argue that, despite several objectives they serve, omnibus laws are controversial, and cutting ways of what is an ideally democratic exercise in the making of laws in countries.

What is so unorthodox about the Omnibus Law? And has Malaysia ever experienced this process? You may want to check it further from my slides here. UNDUH/DOWNLOAD SLIDES.

Thank You Universitas Brawijaya for extending this invitation to share!

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