|YAB Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
is a federation of 13 states and the federal territory. Each state
has its own constitution, head of state, and elected assembly, led
by a chief minister and cabinet, and legislates on matters outside
the federal parliament sphere.
Under the 1957 constitution, a monarch is elected for a five-year
term by and from among the hereditary rulers of Johor, Kedah, Kelantan,
Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Terengganu.
The Paramount Ruler's powers are similar to those of the British
Monarch, including discretion in appointment of a prime minister
and in granting a dissolution of a parliament. Generally, the monarch
acts on the advice of the prime minister and cabinet, who wield
The two-chamber federal legislature or parliament is composed of
a 68-member upper house or senate, Dewan Negara, comprising 42 members
appointed by the monarch and two members elected by each of the
13 state assemblies for six- year terms, and a house of representatives,
Dewan Rakyat, whose 177 members are elected for five-year terms
from single-member constituencies by universal suffrage. The senate
can only delay bills already approved by the dominant house of representatives,
whose majority party or coalition provides the prime minister, who
governs, with a cabinet selected from parliament.
Malaysia's principal party is New United Malay's National Organization
(UMNO), which is oriented towards ethnic Malays. It leads the National
Front coalition, which is composed of more than 10 parties, most
importantly the Chinese-oriented Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA),
and Gerakan Party, and the Indian-oriented Malaysian Indian Congress
(MIC). The principal opposition parties are the moderate, mainly
Chinese, Democratic Action Party (DAP) and the radical Muslim Pan-Malayan
Islamic Party (PAS). Smaller regional parties operate at state level.
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