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Refreshing Basic Knowledge About Malaysia's Parliamentary System

Wong Shu Lee  


  November 24, 2022

The GE15 has ended recently and according to the Election Commission (EC), the final voter turnout was at 73.89%. However, the formation of the government is delayed because no single party was able to attain more than 50% of the total 219 seats contested.


We observed that many people are confused about this situation, and thus would like to refresh the knowledge about the political system in Malaysia. 


Political System in Malaysia


Malaysia practices parliamentary democracy with constitutional monarchy. His Majesty the King is the head of state, whereas the parliament is the most important institution in a country which practices the principles of democracy. The Malaysian kings are chosen for a 5-year term from the 9 sultans of the states of the Malaysian peninsula. 


Meanwhile, the parliament is a legislative body for Federal Government that passes and amends Federal laws, scrutinizes Government policies, and approves Government budgets and proposals for new taxes. The Parliament of Malaysia consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. 


The House of Representatives has 222 elected members and each member represents a Parliamentary Constituency. A General Election is held every five years to elect members of the House of Representatives. Parties with the most elected members and attaining support from at least 50% of the elected members can form a federal government to rule the country. 


The Senate consists of 70 Senators. The membership of the Senate is made up of two categories:


  • 26 members elected by the State Legislative Assembly to represent 13 states (each state represented by two members).
  • 44 members were appointed by His Majesty The King on the advice of the Prime Minister, including two members from the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and one member each from the Federal Territory of Labuan and Putrajaya.


The tenure of office is a three-year term for a maximum of two terms, applicable to both federal and state appointments.


The life of the Senate is not affected by the dissolution of Parliament. Senators are drawn from the ranks of persons who have rendered distinguished public services or have achieved distinction in the professions, commerce, industry, agriculture, cultural activities, or social service or are representatives of racial minorities or are capable of representing the interests of Orang Asli.


What is a Hung Parliament? 


A hung parliament occurs when neither coalition crossed the indispensable line of 112 simple majority to form the next Government independently. 


Following the results of the GE15, PH bagged 82 parliamentary seats and PN 73 seats. It was followed by BN with 30 seats, GPS with 22 seats, Gabungan Rakyat Sabah with six seats, Warisan with three seats, and others with four seats. 


Since no single coalition achieved the simple majority of at least 112 parliamentary seats, there are many possibilities, and it really boils down to the outcome of negotiations between the parties. 


What to expect? 


As more people are politically aware and we are living in a democratic, open-minded, and multicultural country, it is not surprising to have a hung parliament. 


Most importantly, we have to understand, we are one even though everyone has his/her own belief or ideology. We must stay rational and united regardless of which party or coalition becomes the government. 


We always have the right to criticize all the members of parliament and if we are unhappy with their performance, we can show our opinions by voting for a more trustable candidate in the next election. However, do not spread hate speech or use personal attacks as a civilized citizen. 


Let’s exercise our citizens’ rights wisely and rationally. 


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