How government works

Government, parties and elections

Branches of government

Like most governments, the Malaysian Government has 3 main branches.

The Legislative Branch makes laws. This is what our Parliament does.

The Executive Branch carries out laws. This is what the Prime Minister, their Cabinet, and the civil service do.

The Judicial Branch judges if the laws are being followed. This is the job of the court system.

Federal government

The Prime Minister is the head of government.

They are ultimately responsible for all policy and decisions. They:

  • oversee the operation of the Civil Service and government agencies
  • appoint members of the government
  • are the principal government figure in the Dewan Rakyat

The Cabinet is made up of the senior members of government. Every week during Parliament, members of the Cabinet (ministers from all ministries) meet to discuss the most important issues for the government.

Ministers are chosen by the Prime Minister from the members of the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara. They are responsible for the actions, successes and failures of their ministries. Ministries and their agencies are responsible for putting government policy into practice.

The Civil Service does the practical and administrative work of government. They serve Ministers and the Cabinet, as well as the Prime Minister.


Parliament is composed of two bodies, the Dewan Rakyat (Lower House) and Dewan Negara (Upper House).

The Dewan Rakyat is democratically elected by the voting public. The Dewan Negara is made up of 2 senators from each of the 13 states, and the remainder appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the Prime Minister's advice.

Both Houses can suggest Bills, that can be debated and passed to become law. Bills must pass the Dewan Rakyat first, then the Dewan Negara, and then be sent to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for royal assent.

Only the Dewan Rakyat can stop a Bill completely. The Dewan Negara and Yang di-Pertuan Agong have the ability to stall a Bill by up to a year and up to one month, respectively.

In practice, the Dewan Negara acts as a rubber stamp body for whatever the Dewan Rakyat passes.

Local government

Local government consists of town or district authorities under a state government. Authorities that exist under a state government are:

  • town councils
  • municipality councils
  • rural district councils
  • special local authorities for specific development schemes and Federal Territories

They provide local services such as:

  • sanitation and public health
  • town planning
  • licensing and enforcement
  • social development and support
  • protecting the local environment

These services are financed by assessment taxes, federal and state government grants, licensing fees and enforcement fines.

Local authorities are headed by a mayor or president. They are appointed by the state government for 2 years.

Councillors are responsible for an area within a local authority. They are appointed by the mayor or president for 1 year.


While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained on the Website is correct, we are not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. Information on the Website is for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide any type of professional advice. If you need up-to-date, professional advice, you should contact SPR for more details.

Malaysian Progressives in Australia (MPOZ) is a movement of young Malaysians in Australia who strive for open dialogue of political reform in Malaysia