State and politics
According to the revised 1957 Constitution, Malaysia is a
federal, constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary
democracy. The head of state is a king (Yang di-Pertuan
Agong), who is appointed for five years by and among
the country's nine sultans. The king's power has been
limited over time. However, the Sultans as a group still
have a certain influence, in e.g. religious and
Parliament has two chambers - the Senate (Dewan
Negara) with 70 and the House of Representatives (Dewan
Rakyat) with 222 members. General elections, in one-man
constituencies, must be held at least every five years.
Malaysia is divided into 13 states, nine of which are
hereditary sultanates, while the two states of Sabah and
Sarawak have a certain special status. In addition, there is
a federal territory consisting of the economic capital of
Kuala Lumpur, the political capital of Putrajaya and the
island of Labuan. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of MY and its meanings of Malaysia.
The most important issue in multicultural Malaysia since
the country's independence in 1957 has been the ethnic
relations. Traditionally, the Malay majority has dominated
politics and defense, the Chinese economy. United Malays
National Organization, UMNO, is the dominant Malaysian
party, Malaysia Chinese Association the largest
Chinese and Malaysian Indian Congress the Indian
party in the country. After severe ethnic riots in 1969, the
then largest political parties, representing people groups
rather than ideologies, merged into a national front,
Barisan Nasional('National Front'). This, together with
the rapid economic development of the partly authoritarian
Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, has helped to curb
ethnic contradictions. In the last election to the Federal
Parliament (House of Representatives) in 2008, the National
Front lost its 2/3 majority. Compared to 2004, the National
Front decreased from 198 to 140 seats while Pakatan Rakyat
(opposition alliance) increased from 20 to 82 seats in the
Federal Parliament. In addition, the opposition won in five
state elections - Kedah, Kelantan, Penang, Perak and
Selangor - compared to Kelatan alone in 2004. As a result,
the election had the effect that Prime Minister Abdullah
Ahmad Badawi was forced to hand over power to Najib Tun
Razak in early 2009.
The Asian economic crisis that erupted in 1997 seriously
affected Malaysia and came to have not only economic but
also political consequences. Malaysia chose not to follow
the economic policy advocated by the International Monetary
Fund. strict control of currency flows and a fixed exchange
rate. The crisis led to deep differences in political
leadership, ie. within UMNO, between then Prime Minister
Mahathir Mohammed and Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim. The
latter was dismissed in September 1998 and brought to trial
on charges of corruption and sexual offenses. This resulted
in a period of unrest with demonstrations against the
In connection with the 2008 elections, Anwar Ibrahim made
a major political comeback as leader of the opposition
The judiciary in Malaysia consists of different kinds of
courts, two High Courts (one for Western Malaysia
and one for East Malaysia), one Court of Appeal and
one Federal Court (Federal Court). The legal order
is based on English law, domestic legislation and local,
often religious customary law. The death penalty can be
punished for some serious crimes.
The 1957 Constitution guarantees fundamental freedoms and
equality. The Constitution recognizes freedom of religion
but Islam is state religion. The Constitution defines Malay,
the ethnic majority of the Malaysian population, among other
things based on Islam as a religious affiliation. As an
ethnic Malay, it is very difficult to convert from Islam.
Other religions are recognized, but the practice of Judaism
as well as Jewish symbols are forbidden.
In the 1960s, positive discrimination measures were taken
to help ethnic Malays to get out of poverty. The measures
are called bumiputera ('Son of the Earth') and
should include all indigenous people in Malaysia. In
practice, the positive special treatment means that other
religious and ethnic groups are discriminated against in,
among other things, the education system, health care and
access to financial grants.
Malaysia is not an equal country. Women are
underrepresented in politics and their rights in the home
and in the labor market are limited in comparison to men.
There is no government subsidized child care, which makes it
difficult for a woman to work because it is often the mother
who is expected to take care of the children. According to
official figures, about 90 percent of single mothers live
below the poverty line.
Female genital mutilation is very common. About 90
percent of the country's Muslim women have been subjected to
genital mutilation. Abortion is only allowed when the life
or health of the mother is threatened.
Violence against women in the home is punishable but
occurs and polygamy is allowed for Muslim men. Muslim
inheritance and family law disadvantage women. Malaysian
legislation distinguishes between rape within the marriage
and outside the marriage where the sentence is 20 years
instead of five years. Few rape cases are cleared up.
Child marriage occurs. The minimum age for marriage is 18
years for men and 16 years or younger for women, which has
been criticized by a number of human rights organizations.
Same-sex sexual intercourse, as well as some type of
sexual intercourse between heterosexuals, is prohibited.
Images in media and advertising that spread positive
messages about homosexuals, bisexuals, transgender people
and queer people are censored and foreign magazines about
and for LGBT people are banned. In 1994, the government also
banned LGBTQ people from participating in state media.
Malaysia applies mandatory capital punishment for a
variety of crimes, including drug offenses. The executions
are executed by hanging and occur every year.
Arbitrary arrests occur, and it is not uncommon for
people to be detained without judicial review for what is
called prevention by the state. In 2017, the National
Security Council introduced a law that provided further
extensive opportunities for extra-judicial powers in special
so-called security zones.
Above all, revival laws and the law on communication and
multimedia are used to silence critical voices and political
opposition. The state controls most media and freedom of the
press is limited. Self-censorship is common. Malaysia ranks
144th out of 180 ranked countries in Reporters Without
Borders Press Freedom Index (2017). The state closed down a
number of newspapers in 2015, which occurred for the first
time in 28 years. It is difficult to pursue any form of
opposition policy and to criticize the current regime. To
some extent, the Internet and social media have meant that
government-critical voices have come to the fore.
The constitution protects freedom of assembly and
association, but they can be restricted by other laws. For
example, all organizations with more than seven members must
apply for permits and the authorities have full discretion
to criminalize organizations. People who gather in a public
place without permission are routinely arrested.
Malaysia does not grant asylum to refugees whose lives
are threatened because of race, religion, nationality,
belonging to a particular social group or political opinion.
Officially, therefore, there are no refugees in Malaysia,
but only foreign nationals who either reside legally or
illegally in the country. Malaysia has expelled people who
are at risk of being tortured or executed upon returning to
their home country.
After independence in 1957, Malaysia joined the UN. In
1995, Malaysia ratified both the Children's Convention and,
with some reservations, the Convention for the Elimination
of All Discrimination Against Women. In 2010, Malaysia
signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities. However, Malaysia had not ratified the most
central UN human rights conventions in 2017: the Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on Economic
and Social Rights.
Heads of State
||The Sultan of Negeri Sembilan, Tunku Abdul
||The Sultan of Selangor, Hishamuddin Alam Shah
||The Sultan of Perlis, Syed Putra Al-Haj
||The Sultan of Terengganu, Ismail Nasiruddin Shah
||The Sultan of Kedah, Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah
||The Sultan of Kelantan, Yahya Petra
||The Sultan of Pahang, Ahmad Shah Al-Mustain
||The Sultan of Johore, Mahmood Iskander al-Haj
||The Sultan of Perak, Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah
||The Sultan of Negeri Sembilan, Jaafar
||The Sultan of Selangor, Salahuddin Abdul Aziz
||The Sultan of Perlis, Saiyid Sirajuddin
||The Sultan of Terengganu, Mizan Zainal Abidin
||The Sultan of Kedah, Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah
||The Sultan of Kelantan, Muhammad V
||The Sultan of Pahang, Abdullah Riayatuddin
al-Mustafa Billah Shah