The Parliament of Malaysia is the national legislature of Malaysia, adopted based on the Westminster model.
The bicameral parliament consists of the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives) which is the lower house and the Dewan Negara (Senate), the upper house.
The member of Dewan Rakyat is referred as ‘Member of Parliament’ (MP) while the member of Dewan Negara is referred as ‘Senator’.
The powers of the Parliament
As the ultimate legislative body in Malaysia, the Parliament is responsible for passing, amending and repealing acts of law. It is subordinate to the Head of State, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, under Article 39 of the Federal Constitution.
Members of Parliament are permitted to speak on any subject without fear of censure; the only body that can censure an MP is the House Committee of Privileges. Parliamentary immunity takes effect from the moment a member of Parliament is sworn in, and only applies when that member has the floor; it does not apply to statements made outside the House.
An exception to this rule are portions of the constitution related to the social contract, such as the Articles governing citizenship, the priorities of Bumiputera, the Malay language, etc. — all public questioning of these provisions is illegal under the 1971 amendments to the Sedition Act, which Parliament passed in the wake of the 1969 13 May race riots. Members of Parliament are also forbidden from criticising the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or any Ruler. Parliamentary immunity and other such privileges are set out by Article 63 of the Constitution; as such, the specific exceptions to such immunity had to be included in the Constitution by amendment after the 13 May incident.
Members of Dewan Rakyat
The Dewan Rakyat consists of 222 members of Parliament (MPs) elected from single-member constituencies in a general election using the first-past-the-post system. Whichever candidates that obtained the most votes in the constituency will be considered elected as the representative.
A general election is held every five years or earlier with the dissolution of Parliament by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Malaysians are eligible to register as voters when they reach 18 years, which has just been amended in the recent years, although the execution has not been in place yet. However voting in the elections is not compulsory. The minimum age to stand as a candidate in the election is also 18 years old.
When a Member of Parliament passes away, resigns or become disqualified to hold a seat, a by-election will be held in the constituency unless the tenure left for the current Parliament is less than two years, where the seat is simply left vacant until the next general election.
The criteria to be qualified as a candidate for the Member of Parliament is that an individual must be a Malaysian, not less than. 18 years old, mentally sane, not bankrupt and not appointed to the Dewan Negara.
Members of Dewan Negara
The Dewan Negara consists of 70 Senators; 26 are elected by the 13 state assemblies (2 senators per state), 44 members (including 2 from the Kuala Lumpur, 1 from Putrajaya and 1 from Labuan) are appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Senators must be a Malaysian, 30 years or above, and are appointed to a three-year term for a maximum of two terms. The dissolution of the Parliament does not affect the Dewan Negara.