Structure and Function of legislation in Msia Q2

Explain and state the structure and function of legislation in Malaysia.

(20 marks, 2018 Q2)


There was earlier post on Legislation and subsidiary legislation in 2017 Q2, however this question asks about structure and function, so the approach to the question is a bit different.

First we have to list down the Structure, then the function of legislative assembly (Federal and State). It is more of a hardware and software thing like that of a computer. The Upper and Lower Houses of legislative assemblies and then the work or functions that they do.

Legislative Structure:

Legislature means the group of people in a country or part of a country who have the power to make and change laws. In Malaysia these can be divided into two major parts - the Federal law making body and the State law making body.

The Federal Parliament (both lower and upper houses) represents the whole country with representatives (member of parliament) elected in a Parliamentary Election. They hold parliamentary sittings in the Parliament as representatives of public opinion. They act as eyes, ears and voices of the people in a parliamentary democratic system.

Malaysia inherited the British System of Constitutional Monarchy and Parliamentary Democracy. Parliament of Malaysia represents the democratic structure of the government and reflects the people's aspiration through the elected representatives. It is the highest legislative body of the country that consists of three main components:

1. His Majesty The King
2. Senate
3. House of Representatives

Federal - The Legislative Assembly of Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara with the King.

State - The State Legislative Assembly of Exco Members (West Msia & Sabah) and State Parliaments of Sarawak with their respective Sultans, Raja and State Governors.

Legislative Functions:

  • Make, amend or replace laws;
  • Laws are introduced as 'bills' in the legislature;
  • Legislative assembly members debate the bill;
  • If bill is approved (with 3 readings), it goes to the Upper House.
  • Thereafter, if approved by Upper House, it becomes law with/without the accent of the King.

Function of amending the constitution

The Members of Parliament (MPs) can make and amend the Federal Constitution with more than 2/3 of the parliament agreeing in it.

There are three (3) methods of amending the Constitution.

  • Direct Vote;
  • Amendment proposal followed by ratification by constitutional convention; and
  • Proposal followed by ratification of the respective States (Negeri).

Legislative assemblies also carry the function of supervision.

They come to Parliamentary Sitting (Meetings) and question the government on issues of public policy and interest. The legislature has the function of supervising the executive - the Cabinet, the Ministers and the Prime Minister.

During the Question and Answer Session of the Parliament, the MPs can ask questions regarding the running of the government, its plans and shortfalls. For example, the previous government was asked about the 1MDB issues during the Parliament Sitting by various Opposition Members of Parliament Lower House.

Legislative Function also includes the Financial Function.

The Budget of the government has to be tabled and passed in the Parliament before the end of every year. It shall outline the spending and forecast revenue of the country in the coming financial year. Towards the end of September, or early October, the Parliament will table the Budget and shall be debated to be passed for legitimate use of funds in the next financial year.

Indeed, legislative assemblies function as control and regulatory system for national finances, to consider and authorize the legitimacy of the Year Budget. The executive can propose how each ministry were to spend the money, but the check and balance comes from the legislative bodies to see to the appropriate use of the national revenue collected via taxes.

Legislature also function as a electoral college

This means when it comes to a formation of government, whoever holds the most number of seats in the Lower House (Dewan Rakyat), can form the government. Members of Dewan Rakyat can join force in voting to change the government if they cast the vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister.

Legislature can also function to make inquiries into matters of National Interest/Security.

It can appoint commissions of inquiry and public accounts committee. Even at occasions, inquest on court cases like Altantuya, TeoBengHock, etc.

For example, Parliament can move the motion to establish the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) and Public Accounts Committee (PAC). RCI is tasked to investigate some of the controversial matters when the Parliament rises the matter to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister then present it to the King and the RCI can be set up. Usually, the composition of the RCI are retired judges.

PAC is a special committee set up by the Parliament (Lower House) to investigate the financial accounts of the government. This is usually done in the time of misappropriation of accounts.

PAC was set up for looking into the misappropriation of funds in the 1MDB Scandal.