Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy largely influenced by the British parliamentary system. The country consists of 13 states and 3 federal territories. The heads of 9 of the states are hereditary rulers, and the heads of the remaining 4 states are governors appointed by the sovereign, on the advice of the federal parliament.
of the unique features of the political system
in Malaysia is that the sovereign (Paramount
Ruler or Yang di-Pertuan Agang in Malay) is
elected every 5 years by and from the 9
hereditary rulers of 9 states of Peninsular
Malaysia. The sovereign is the supreme head of
Malaysia and supreme commander of the armed
There are a number of political organizations in Malaysia. Most prominent of them are the Barisan Nasional (National Front); the governing coalition of 14 parties that forms the United Malays National Organization (UMNO); the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA); and the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC).
The opposition front is known as Pakatan Rakyat, which brings together the Parti Islam sa-Malaysia (Islamic Party of Malaysia), the Democratic Action Party, and Parti Keadilan Rakyat.
The governing coalition of the UMNO, MCA, and
MIC was formed on the eve of independence, on a
platform of achieving independence by peaceful
The coalition between the 3 main political parties and later the National Front, which represent the biggest ethnic communities in Malaysia, came to power on a platform of national consolidation and state paternalism (where the state makes decisions in social and economic affairs that in other countries would have been left to individuals and the market). This coalition was able to overcome deep divisions in Malaysian society and implement a successful policy of economic reforms, and it has remained in power ever since.
In economic areas, the government has taken a very active role in the development and industrialization of the national economy. This has included significant investment in the state sector, a close alliance between government and private businesses, and the gradual privatization of state enterprises under a major privatization program launched in 1986.