Following the 1957 Constitution, Malaysia is a
parliamentary-democratic federal state and a constitutional
monarchy. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how MY can stand for Malaysia. The monarch, who is the country's head of state,
is elected for five years by and among the eligible rulers
(sultans) in nine of the 13 states that make up Malaysia.
The ruling conference, which includes the nine sultans and
the heads of the other states, also has some other functions
in addition to choosing king (Yang di-Pertuan Agong);
it is consulted in connection with important state
appointments, i.a. judicial appointments, in matters of
importance to the position of Islam and to constitutional
However, the real executive rests with the prime minister
and the government, both of whom are accountable to
parliament. The legislative assembly, Parliament, consists
of two houses, a Senate (Dewan Negara) and a House
of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat). The first has 70
members, 44 appointed by the king and 26 elected by the
state assemblies (two from each); it lasts for three years.
The House of Representatives (as of 2004) has 219 members,
elected for five years in general elections from one-person
circles. Of these, 28 come from Sarawak and 26 from Sabah.
The house can be dissolved by the prime minister before the
period has expired. Although the house is the main chamber,
both chambers participate in the legislation. Laws must be
passed by both chambers, but if a law has been introduced in
the House of Representatives, the Senate has only a veto
Each of the 13 states has its own constitution, but
without having as much independence as states usually have.
The two states of Borneo, Sabah and Sarawak, have a greater
degree of independence. In nine of the states there is an
heir at all, in seven of the cases with the title sultan.
The heads of the other four states do not inherit their
positions and therefore do not participate in the royal
elections. The role of heads of state varies somewhat, but
the executive power lies primarily with the state's first
prime minister and government. The government is responsible
to the elected state legislative assembly. Each state of the
peninsula is divided into administrative districts led by a
district official. Sabah and Sarawak have similar schemes
(four and five local units), but they are called different.
In total, there are 130 local administrative units.
The Supreme Court is the Federal Court, which adjudicates
disputes between the states or between a state and the
federal state and which otherwise acts as a constitutional
court. It is furthermore a court case for both the peninsula
of the country and for Sabah and Sarawak. In 1994, a
separate appeals court was established to replace the
British Privy Council, which had previously been
the last appeal body. The judges of the supreme courts are
appointed by the king, on the recommendation of the prime
minister, who in turn has consulted the ruling conference.
In the largest centers there are session dishes. They have
jurisdiction in both civil and criminal cases. In the
largest centers there are also magistrate dishes. They have
a more limited jurisdiction than the Sessions.
Malaysia's foreign policy
Malaysia is an active player in the Islamic world and
also regionally within ASEAN. Under Mahathir, Malaysia
appeared with ever-increasing international self-awareness,
marking itself as a spokesman for "Asian values". Mahathir
often spoke to the West opposite.
Mahathir argued in the 1990s to establish a large Asian
trade union as a counterweight to the trade blocs in Europe
and America, but met with resistance. In 1992, Malaysia
joined the Southeast Asian Free Trade Association AFTA,
within the framework of ASEAN. The country is also a member
of the Pacific Cooperation Organization APEC, but marked
Mahathir as the country that strongly warned against forced
development of this free trade zone. Malaysia thus came into
trade conflict with the US, which has also been the case
within the WTO. The country took early and clear distance
from terror after September 11, 2001. Together with
Indonesia and the Philippines, Malaysia has strengthened
regional cooperation against international terrorism and
Malaysia has military cooperation with Australia,
Indonesia, the Philippines and the United States. Australia
has troops in the country (130 personnel and one patrol
aircraft in 2018). Malaysia has participated in
international operations, and with personnel in several UN
The total force figures for Malaysia's armed forces are
113,000 active personnel, with a reserve of 51,600 personnel
(2018, IISS). In addition, a semi-military force of 22,500
personnel, with a reserve of 244,700 personnel.
The army has a workforce of 80,000 active personnel.
Material comprising 48 tanks of a PT-91, 21 facilitate the
tanks of a scorpion, 136 armored vehicles, 832 armored
personnel carriers, 165 facilitate landing craft and 12
The Air Force has a workforce of 15,000 active personnel.
Materials include 21 fighter jets (11 F-5 Tiger II, and 10
MiG-29), 26 fighter aircraft (eight F/A-18D Hornet, and 18
Su-30), five reconnaissance aircraft, eight tankers, 33
transport aircraft, 78 training aircraft (of which 17 Hawk
which can also be used as light fighter aircraft), 59
helicopters and a number of medium- heavy drones.
The Navy has a workforce of 18,000 active personnel. The
fleet includes two tactical submarines, 10 frigates, four
corvettes, 33 patrol vessels, four minesweepers, 115
landings and 13 supply and auxiliary vessels. In addition,
the Navy has 12 helicopters.
In 2018, Malaysia participated in UN operations in the
Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) with two personnel
and four observers, in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with 829 personnel,
in Sudan (UNAMID) with three personnel and one observer, and
in Western Sahara (MINURSO) with five observers.