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A legislature in a parliamentary democracy has four main functions; i.e
(1) to make law; (2) to scrutinize public expenditure; (3) to provide the
forum to make the government accountable to the electorate and (4)
redress of citizens grievances.
In constitutional theory, legislation is the function of Parliament.
The executive has no inherent law-making powers of its own except
during an emergency(Art.150)(2B))***
The legislative authority of the Federation or the power of the
Federation to make law is formally vested by Art.44 of the FC in
Parliament. This means the powers and authorities of the Parliament
are limited by the FC, so that in this respect the Malaysian Parliament is
not sovereign like the British Parliament
Nonetheless, of course Parliament may delegate its lawmaking
power to other bodies/persons. In Kulasingam v Commissioner of
Lands, Federal Territory [1982] 1 MLJ 204, Hashim Yeop Sani J held;
There is nothing to prevent Parliament from delegating power
to legislate on minor and administrative matters
Constitutionally, at the Federal level, Parliament consists of the
YDPA, the Dewan Negara and the Dewan Rakyat (Art.44) - is
bicameral. Laws are enacted by all three acting together (except in
certain circumstances). But, it is the DR & DN that actually function
as the nations legislature.
At state level, the legislature known as State Legislative Assemblies
is unicameral.
The Role of Legislatures in Malaysia
Malaysian Parliament has functions other than legislation. It
debates important matters of the day, and controls
government finance, including taxation and budget. It is the
main forum for the explanation and defence of government and
opposition views and policy, and for the ventilation of
grievances both general, local and individual.
The most important of the three elements of Parliament is the
Dewan Rakyat, which is the main channel of democratic
impulses in the country. As for the Dewan Negara, its purpose
was clearly to secure the rights of the states, as 26 of the
members were elected by the State Legislative Assemblies. The
role of the YDPA as part of the legislature is very limited.
The Role of Legislatures in Malaysia
1. The YDPA
Though he is a constituent part of Parliament, he does not sit in
Parliament, but he may address either House or both Houses
jointly at the beginning of each session (by reading the address
prepared by the government of the day).
His role is purely formal and ceremonial. This includes the
discretionary power to reject a request for dissolution. Though he
is empowered to act on his discretion (Art 40(2)), but it is the
sole prerogative of the PM to request a dissolution, and the
YDPA cannot act without his advice.
He can return Bills passed by Parliament with his reasons for
refusing assent, but Parliament has the power to override this
veto (Art.66). This means, he does not have the final say as to
which laws should or should not be enacted, because in these
matters he acts on Cabinet advice.
2. Dewan Negara (70 members)
The DN Is the upper House of Parliament of Malaysia. The DN reviews
legislation that has been passed by the lower House. However, the DN
has made very little impact on legislation.
Originally, the DN was meant to act as a check on the DR and also to
represent the interests of the various states. However, these roles have
been modified by subsequent amendments.
Apart from that, the DN has no power to veto bills passed by the DR, as
the number of senators too small compared with the members of the
However, the DN possesses equal power when it comes to
constitutional amendment.
It has two kinds of members: those elected by each state legislature;
and those appointed by the YDPA.
Dewan Negara

Representation to
special groups
Legislative Function
-professionals, minority,
-Essential component of special and disable groups
parliament and its assent is
necessary for the passage of
-Note Art 68 and Art 89

-Can revise, improve or delay Deliberative Function

DR Bills.
Representing the States -to provide a valuable
constitutional safeguard to
-federal function of representing
check and limit the power of
the Senates of the federation
the Government.
and protecting their rights.
3. Dewan Rakyat (222 members)
All government legislation commences in the DR, and
almost all important debates are held there. It is the
confidence of the DR which determines the complexion of
Government (Art.43).
Seems to have a superior position to the DN i.e; (a) the fact
that the PM must be appointed from among the Dewan Rakyat
members unlike other members of the cabinet who can be
appointed from among the DN members(Art.43(2)(a)); (b) the DR
has been given power to override the DN; one month in the case
of money bill & twelve months in the case non-money bills
Dewan Rakyat

to make law to provide the forum to make the

-Ordinary law government accountable to the electorate
-Constitutional amendments -doctrine of ministerial responsibility

-Emergency legislation -question time in Parliament

-Subsidiary legislation -debates and motions

-parliamentary committees

to scrutinize public
redress of citizens
-In theory, money for government
programmes must come from -MPs are legislators cum
Parliament problem solvers, social
workers and spokesmen
-This means, money bills cannot for their areas.
become law without the authority of
the elected representatives of the
Sessions, Meetings & Sittings of Parliament
A parliament continues for a period of 5 years from the date of its first meeting,
unless it stands sooner dissolved (Art.55(3)).
Dissolution terminates the membership of all members of the DR, but not the DN
A general election must be held within 60 days of dissolution, and the new
Parliament must be summoned within 120 days of dissolution (Art.55(4)).
A session, of which each Parliament usually has five and lasts for about one
year. It will begins with the speech from the YDPA and ends when Parliament is
A session consists of a number of meetings, of which there are usually five or six
in a session, which last for few days each, or a few weeks in the case of the
budget meeting.
A meeting consists of a number of sittings. Any period during which either House
deliberates without adjournment constitutes a sitting. A meeting ends when
Parliament is adjourned sine die (without a date being fixed for the next meeting).
Procedure of each House is governed by its Standing Orders (Art.62(1)).
***The Effectiveness of Malaysian Parliament

The issue is : the ability of the house to make the government

The government is being formed on the basis of majority of
seats in the house; thus the stronger the government, the
weaker the parliament becomes.
In theory, it is parliament to legislate, but in reality, they
legitimate the laws. Most of the laws are being made by the
bureaucracy, not parliament.
Most of the times, parliament will merely lay down the general
principle and leave matters of details to the bureaucracy.
Political culture that is not conducive for the emergence of a
functioning parliament. Parliamentarians seem to have given
importance and priority of the party rather than to make
government answerable to its functions and inactions.
How the laws are made in the legislature?
The journey starts with the pre-parliamentary legislative procedure. At this
stage, when a Minister wants to introduce a Bill, he first draws up its policy
in consultation with the AG. The overall policy of the legislation will then be
approved by the Cabinet, and interested departments, including usually the
Treasury and the Attorney-General, are consulted. Cabinet then gives
approval for the drafting of a Bill ( the law in a draft form).
This Bill will then be introduced in the house. It can either be introduced in
the DN or in the DR, however, money bill (national budget) can only be
introduced in the DR.
There are three types of bills; namely public bills, private bills and hybrid bills.
STOP: 29/10/2014


Public Interest Private or local Public

concern interest
Money Other matters

Pre- Readings Consent of Publication Exceptions

Parliamentary the King
Royal Date of
Lengthy discussions + Assent enforcement
negotiations by various

1st Reading 2nd Committee Stage Report Stage 3rd Reading

- final debate
3 Reading
- no substantive amendment
- voting

- conclusion from the

committee stage Report Stage
- propose amendment

Committee Stage -amendment stage.

-a debate and voting

- crucial stage +
vigorous debate
Second Reading

First Reading - presentation, reading +

no debate and voting
In Malaysia, there are the lower
house known as the Dewan Rakyat
or House of Representatives and
the upper house known as the
Dewan Negara or Senate. The
Parliament will exercise its power
to make laws by the passing of
Bills in both houses.
A Bill may originate in either of the
House. However, there is one
exception with the "Money Bill".
Subject to Article 67 of the Federal
Constitution, the "Money Bill" must
originate in the House of
Representatives and can only be
introduced by a Minister
The House, which a Bill is
originated, shall send it to the other
House once the Bill has been passed.
After the other Houses passed the
Bill, it must then be presented to the
Yang di-Pertuan Agong for his assent
under the Article 66(3) of the Federal
A Bill goes through several stages of
"Reading", in both the Houses of
Parliament. At the First Reading
stage, only the long title will be read.
This is a formality when the Bill is
first introduced to the House. The
most important stage is the Second
Reading. The contents of the Bill are
debated at length and discussed by
all members of the House.
After that the Bill goes through a
Committee Stage. The committees is
normally the Committee of the whole
House as opposed to special select
committees. Special technical details
of the Bill may be discussed at this
stage. Finally, the Bill is returned to
the House for its Third Reading.
Again this is a formality.
Under the Article 66(4) of the Federal
Constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong must
assent to the Bill by causing the Public Seal to be
affixed thereto. This must be done within 30 days
from the date a Bill is being presented to him. The
nation Constitution provides that a Bill will
become law at the expiration of the 30 days period
specified in the like manner as if he had assented
thereto, should the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, for
whatever reason, fails to give his assent to the Bill
within the specified period.
A Bill assented by the Yang di-
Pertuan shall become Law.
However, no laws shall come into
force until it has been gazetted or
published under the Article 66(5) of
the Federal Constitution.
Exceptions to the

Art.68 Art.66 Special Consent of Emergency

majority other parties Acts or
-DN can be -YDPAs
requirements outside the Ordinance
passed by the consent can
Parliament under
DR be by passed -2/3 majority
- e.g :COR
after 60 days
Constitutional Amendment-
(Art 159 and 161E)

Art.159(4) Art.159(3) Art.159 (5) Assent of

para (a) (c) Governors
- 2/3 Majority - Assent of
-Simple CoR
Majority Limitations

Procedural limits Substantive

Amendment in 1983
Two major amendment
To alter the nature of the power of assent to
bills, which was to be replaced by a provision
which would have bypassed the YDPA after 15
To take away the power to declare emergency
from the YDPA and put it at the hands of the
This amendment was caught by Art 38(4)
although it is not the subject matter in Art
Amendment in 1993
Pertaining to the rulers immunity under
Argument by the legislature the provision
was not mentioned in Art 159 (5).
Thus, the provision in Art 38(4) was raised.
Art.38(4) clearly wide enough to cover the
issues; it is not just powers but honour and
position of the YDPA and rulers.
Doctrine of Basic Structure
This doctrine protects the very pillars of the
Constitution and to ament it is tentamount to
destroying the constitution itself
Loh Kooi Choon and Phang Ching Hock
Amendments to the Constitution was
challenged on the argument that thy had
interfered with the basic structure of the
Court apparently accepted that the Malaysian
Constitution has a basic structure but did
not, unfortunately, identify what was it.
Other Modes Of
Constitutional Change

Creative Emergency
constitutional Acts &
interpretation Ordinances

Growth of
-i.e: judicial

Amendments to Malaysian Constitution is

complex task as the constitution is a
compilation of compromises between races,
royalty and commoners, the states and the
federation etc.

Amendments may also involve more than

questions of procedure.