A constitutional conference was held in London from 18 January to 6 February 1956 attended by a delegation from the Federation of Malaya, consisting of four representatives of the Rulers, the Chief Minister of the Federation Tunku Abdul Rahman and three other ministers, and also by the British High Commissioner in Malaya and his advisers.
The conference proposed the appointment of an independent commission to devise a constitution for a fully self-governing and independent Federation of Malaya. This proposal was accepted by Queen Elizabeth IIand the Malay Rulers.
Accordingly, the Reid Commission, consisting of constitutional experts from fellow Commonwealth countries and headed by Lord (William) Reid, a distinguished Lord-of-Appeal-in-Ordinary, was appointed by the Queen and the Malay Rulers.
The Constitution of Malaya was drafted based on the advice of the Reid Commission which conducted a study in 1956. The Constitution came into force on 27 August 1957. Formal independence was only achieved on 31 August however.
The constitutional machinery devised to bring the new constitution into force consisted of:
- In the United Kingdom, the Federation of Malaya Independence Act 1957, together with the Orders in Council made under it.
- The Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957 between the government of the United Kingdom and the government of the Federation of Malaya.
- In the Federation, the Federal Constitution Ordinance 1957 by the Parliament.
- In each of the Malay states, state enactments approving and giving force of law to the federal constitution.
The Constitution of Malaya (with significant amendments) was used as the basis for the Constitution of Malaysia when Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore merged to form Malaysia in 1963.