Law, Principles and Practice in the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives) of Malaysia

Law, Principles and Practice in the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives) of Malaysia

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"[The oversight of executive functions is an] important role of the Parliament, in particular the Dewan Rakyat, ... not much appreciated. It is hoped that the publication of this book will remedy that." 

From the Foreword by Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim, former Chief Judge of Malaya


Author : 

In the six decades as an independent nation, Malaysia has developed its own Parliamentary procedures, processes, conventions and practices. This book aims to be a comprehensive reference for parliamentaries, parliamentary officers, civil servants, serious scholars and researchers, and the general reader with a keen interest in parliamentary affairs. The contributors and editors have consciously chosen to analyse not only the laws of Parliament, but also the practices and the underlying principles underpining these laws and practices. The clear explanations and examples provided in this book are undoubtedly useful for the reader to understand each rule and practice better.

In keeping with the intent and scope of this book, its writing has included the necessary inputs and insights of a large pool of specialist contributors beyond the immediate walls of Parliament. Besides the Speaker, the Clerk of the Dewan Rakyat, senior officers in the Clerk's Office, research officers and officers in the Speaker's Office, the contributors also include legal practitioners, members of academia, a politician and the Chairman of Elections Commission of Malaysia. 

It is a collective insight, each chapter providing a specialised perspective which hopefully will make the book more relevant and useful to a broad range of readers.

TAN SRI DATO’ MOHAMAD ARIFF MD YUSOF is the current Speaker of the House of Representatives of Malaysia and was elected in July 2018. He is a former judge of the Court of Appeal. He graduated from the London School of Economics (LSE) with a Bachelor's degree in law and upon graduating joined the Faculty of Law in University of Malaya. In 1986, he became an advocate and a solicitor and has his own legal practice called Cheang & Ariff.
Mohamad Ariff was appointed a Judicial Commissioner for the High Court of Malaya in 2008. He was made a full judge of the same in 2009. In 2012, he was elevated to the Court of Appeal. He retired from the Malaysian Judiciary in 2015 and returned to his prior legal practice, Cheang & Ariff. Mohamad Ariff was a High Court judge during the 2009 Perak constitutional crisis. He also served as the judge removing the Home Ministry's ban on the book authored by the Sisters in Islam (SIS) entitled Muslim Women and the Challenges of Islamic Extremism.
DATUK ROOSME HAMZAH has served as the Clerk of the Dewan Rakyat since December 2007. She first joined Parliament in 2001. She has the distinction of being the first female Clerk of the House. She was awarded the Kesatria Mangku Negara (K.M.N), in June 2008 and on 2nd February 2009, she was awarded Panglima Mahkota Wilayah (P.M.W) which carries the title ‘Datuk’, during the Federal Territory Day Celebrations. 
EMERITUS PROF DATUK DR SHAD SALEEM FARUQI is the Holder of the Tun Hussein Chair at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS), Malaysia. He was formerly the Holder of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Foundation Chair at the University of Malaya. He is an Emeritus Professor at Universiti Teknologi MARA; member of the Judicial Appointments Commission; member of the post GE-14 “Institutional Reform Committee”; member of the Malaysia Agreement ‘63 Committee; Fellow of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia and Adjunct Professor at Taylor’s University, Malaysia.
He is the author of eleven books including: Document of Destiny: The Constitution of the Federation of Malaysia. He has written 600 articles and presented 500 seminar papers in 16 countries. He pens a fortnightly column in the Star called “Reflecting on the Law”.
DATUK AZHAR AZIZAN HARUN who is currently the Chairman of the Election Commission is an alumnus of Universiti Malaya and King’s College London. He was a member of the Bar Council’s Constitutional Law Committee from 2009 until 2015, and has also been a Speaker at the Malaysian Bar’s biennial International Malaysia Law Conference.
During his legal career, Azhar has represented candidates in election petitions, including Barisan Nasional’s Datuk Teh Kim Poo, who was defending his Pandamaran state seat win in March 2004, and then PKR’s Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, who challenged BN’s P. Kamalanathan’s April 2010 by-election win in the Hulu Selangor Parliamentary seat. Azhar had also in 2008 appeared for human rights groups during the proceedings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) that looked into the VK Lingam video clip scandal, involving allegations of the manipulation of judicial appointments.

YB DR ABDUL AZIZ BARI is a Malaysian academician and currently the incumbent Perak State Legislative Assemblyman for the constituency of Tebing Tinggi in the parliamentary constituency of Ipoh Timur. Aziz Bari is currently the opposition leader in the Perak State Legislative Assembly and formerly the State EXCO of Perak in charge of the education, environment and science portfolios. He is the Vice-Chairman of the Perak DAP. Prior to joining politics, he was a professor of law and has published widely in the area of constitutional law. During his 25 years of service as an academic he has published over 10 books on the various aspects of Malaysian Constitution as well as more than 150 papers for national and international seminars and conferences.
DATO’ DR GURDIAL SINGH NIJAR obtained his LLB (Hons) degree from King’s College, London and his LLM and PhD from University of Malaya. He was the founder-Director of the Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity Law. He was spokesperson for developing countries in International negotiations that led to the conclusion of three treaties including the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. He is on the Expert ABS Panel of the UN FAO (Rome), and a Senior Fellow of the South Centre (Geneva). He served as a Law Professor at University of Malaya’s Law Faculty for 16 years. He has written widely in International journals and was the recipient of the 2011 Anugerah Akademik Negara (Journal article). He has more than 30 years of litigation practice and has argued several landmark cases involving civil, constitutional and administrative law. He has drafted laws for the government and is currently engaged to revamp the Environmental Quality Act. He is President of the National Human Rights Society (HAKAM). He is a member, the Council of Foreign Affairs, a Director of MIDA and was a Commissioner of SPAN. He writes a fortnightly column, 'Law Speak' at the Sun Daily. He runs his own litigation practice.
PROF DR FARID SUFIAN SHUAIB obtained his LLB (Hons) from the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) and was immediately offered a teaching post at the Kulliyyah of Laws, IIUM in 1993. He completed his LLM from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and obtained his PhD in Law from IIUM. He received and completed research grants on administration of Islamic law, media law and constitutional law. He published widely in Malaysian and international journals. Among his books are Constitutional Law of Malaysia: Text and Commentary, Media Law in Malaysia, Administration of Islamic Law in Malaysia: Text and Material and Powers and Jurisdiction of Syariah Courts in Malaysia published by Pearson, WoltersKluwer and LexisNexis respectively. He has been invited to visit and to deliver seminars in universities in England, Turkey and Indonesia. His writings are referred to in the judgments of superior courts in Malaysia. He was a Visiting Scholar at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in 2016. He is currently the Dean of Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws, International Islamic University Malaysia.
ASSOC PROF DR MOHD HISHAM MOHD KAMAL, LL. B (Hon.) (IIUM), LL. B (Shariah) (Hons) (IIUM), LL.M in International Law (Hull), Ph. D (IIUM), is Associate Professor at Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). He has written on Public International Law and Islamic International Law. His publications notably include “Application of International Law in Malaysia”, in Marko Novakovic (editor), Basic Concepts of Public International Law: Monism & Dualism, Belgrade: Faculty of Law of University of Belgrade, Institute of Comparative Law of Belgrade & Institute of International Politics and Economics of Belgrade, 2013, pp. 853-865; “The Dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia over the ND6 and ND7 Sea Blocks: A Malaysian Perspective”, Vol. 8(1) Journal of East Asia and International Law [2015] 171-193 (as a co-author); and “Principles of Distinction, Proportionality and Precautions under the Geneva Conventions: the Perspective of Islamic Law” in Borhan Uddin Khan & Md Jahid Hossain Bhuiyan (editors), Revisiting the Geneva Conventions: 1949-2019, BRILL | NIJHOFF, 2019, pp. 244-261.
DATO’ AMBIGA SREENEVASAN is a well-known human rights advocate and has received several international awards for her work in this field. She was a member of the Institutional Reforms Committee, which was set up in May 2018 to advise the government on reforms needed to key public institutions. She has led several organisations in the past decade including the Bar Council, Bersih 2.0 and the National Human Rights Society (Hakam). She is currently a Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists. 
DING JO-ANN is a legal researcher in the firm of Sreenevasan. She is a qualified lawyer and has a Master’s in International Human Rights Law from the University of Oxford. She has worked for the Centre for Independent Journalism and Human Rights Watch. She was part of the legal support team for the Institutional Reforms Committee set up by the government in May 2018.
MAHA BALAKRISHNAN read law at the University of Bristol, UK and is a member of the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn. Maha holds a Master’s degree in Democracy and Comparative Politics from University College London, UK. During her 12 years at the Malaysian Bar, Maha practised civil, commercial and public administrative law. She contributed to the Bar’s public advocacy work, participating in Royal Commissions of Inquiry and contributing to policy papers on legal and institutional reform. Maha was the Co-Deputy Chair of the 2009-11 Constitutional Law Committee that created the MyConstitution campaign. Shifting focus to politics and public policy in 2013, Maha has consulted for UNICEF, the National Democratic Institute, NGOs and think-tanks. She spent 4 years as Political Advisor to the British High Commission, where she provided interdisciplinary strategic analyses and developed multi-stakeholder partnerships. She has conducted studies on institutional and legal design in transitional and singular democracies. Maha is the co-author of Malaysian Parliamentary Procedure: A Guide to the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat.
DR MUHAMAD SAYUTI HASSAN is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Human Sciences, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Tanjong Malim, Perak, Malaysia. He obtained his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) at the Faculty of Law, UKM, Master in Law (LL.M) (2009-2010) from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and his law Degree (LL.B) in International Islamic University Malaysia. He was seconded to the Parliament of Malaysia as Head of the Research and Library Division from 2016-2019. In addition, he also served as Deputy Prosecutor at the Attorney General's Chambers, Sarawak Branch in 2009 before joining academia. Currently, his research interest are Indigenous issues, international law, criminal law and Parliamentary Practice & Procedure. He has also published numerous publications on indigenous peoples, international law and criminal law.
ALI ZULFAKAR ZAINAL ABIDIN has more than 32 years working experience in public service sector. Presently he is holding the position as Senior Private Secretary to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Parliament of Malaysia. He has served Parliament as Senior Private Secretary to the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat from 2010 till now. He holds Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Communication from National University of Malaysia. 
WAN ANWAR WAN IBRAHIM is currently Special Officer to the Speaker of Malaysian House of Representatives. He holds LLB (Hons) degree and Master of Law (LLM) in Banking Law from the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). He is an advocate and solicitor (Malaya) and has worked as lawyer and legal advisor for several organizations as well as Syariah legal practitioner in the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya. He was also involved in legislating law at the municipal level when he served as Selayang Municipal Councillor. 
SITI FATIHAH SALAHUDDIN is currently serving as the Private Secretary to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. She is a Syariah Counsel by profession. She was admitted in Johor on 18th June 2017 and admitted in Kuala Lumpur on 20th December 2017 and practiced from June 2017 to August 2018 before joining the Speaker’s Office on 13th August in the same year. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Fiqh and Fatwa from Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) in 2016 and a Postgraduate Diploma in Islamic Judiciary and Advocatory Practice in 2017 from the same University.
CHRISTIE CHOO LI CHI is currently serving as a Parliamentary Researcher at the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives. She obtained her Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of Chester and a Master of Laws (LL.M) degree specializing in Human Rights, Conflict and Justice from SOAS, University of London. Christie has worked as a Parliamentary Researcher at the UK House of Lords prior to joining the Speaker’s office. 

AMY TAM LAY CHOON is a researcher in the Research and Library Division at the Parliament of Malaysia. Prior to joining Parliament, between 1988 - 2005, she was involved in consultancy in various fields including property development and investments, community and industrial research and corporate and banking. Currently, she specialises in laws and policies concerning housing, waste management, disaster management, local government and urbanisation. 
RIDUAN RAHMAT started his service at the Parliament of Malaysia in 1989 as an administrative assistant. He was appointed as Head of the Management and Special Functions Division in 2006 before being promoted as the Secretary of the Senate in 2014 where he held the position until February 2020. He was appointed as the 13th Secretary of the House of Representatives in February 2020. He holds Bachelor degree in Business of Administration from Universiti Teknologi Mara and a master’s degree in political science from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. In 2014, he was awarded the Darjah Ahli Mangku Negara (AMN) from His Majesty Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
AMISYAHRIZAN AMIR KHAN was appointed as Head of Division for the House of Representatives Management Division in November 2017. He had joined this Division in 2008 as an officer with responsibility for Parliamentary and Committee proceedings and became Principal Assistant Secretary in 2010. In November 2016, he was promoted as Head of Division for International Relation & Protocol Division to manage Parliament's international engagement including with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Association (AIPA). He holds a Bachelor Degree in Accounting (Hon.) and started his service with the Malaysian Public Service as Chief Internal Auditor at the State Secretary’s Office in Perlis in 2004.
IDZUAFI HADI KAMILAN graduated from Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) in 2008 with a Bachelor of Law (Hons) before he pursued his Master of Law (LL.M) at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in 2010. Currently he is a Parliamentary Research Officer at the Research and Library Division, Parliament of Malaysia. He attended a few Parliamentary fellowship programs including at Parliament of India (Lok Sabha) in (2014), at Iowa Republican Research Office, Iowa State Senate, Des Moines, Iowa, USA in (2015), and Parliamentary Institute of Cambodia, Phnom Penh in (2017). Idzuafi is also a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Department of Political Science, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs, University at Albany, New York state to do his research on parliamentary reform in 2019-2020. His research interests are in constitutional law, parliamentary practise and procedure, and parliamentary research and he has been involved in this field for over eight years.
MUTHANNA SAARI is a researcher attached to the Research and Library Division of the Parliament of Malaysia, holds a Master’s degree in Human Rights from the University of Sussex, UK. Prior to joining Parliament, he had few stints including with the Malaysian Institute of Integrity (INTEGRITI), the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia, as well as with a State Elected Representative. He is the author of the book 'Hak Asasi Manusia dan Persoalan Budaya' (Human Rights and Culture).
WAN AHMAD SYAZWAN WAN ISMAIL holds degree in Business Studies and Management from Middlesex University, London. He has worked in the Parliament of Malaysia and has been dealing with parliamentary matters since 2009. Prior to his appointment as Principal Assistant Secretary, Special Chamber Section, Dewan Rakyat Management Division, Syazwan held the position of Special Task Officer (Parliament) to the Hon. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (2013-2018), Senior Assistant Secretary, International Relations and Protocol Division, Parliament of Malaysia (2009-2013) and Assistant Director, ASEAN Economic Cooperation Division, Ministry of International Trade and Industry (2007-2009).
SHAHARZAD YUSOF serves as the Principal Assistant Secretary in the Legislative and Proceedings Section of the Dewan Rakyat since 2017. He holds a Bachelor in Business Administration and a Diploma in Public Administration.
MUHAMMAD AMIR LUFTI MAKHTAR is the Assistant Secretary in the Legislative and Proceedings Section of the Dewan Rakyat. He holds a Master’s in Islamic Finance and obtained a degree from the University of Yarmouk in Jordan. 
NORZULHILMI NOZIR AHMAD serves as the Senior Assistant Secretary in the Legislative and Proceedings Section of the Dewan Rakyat since 2017. He holds a Bachelor of Science (Nuclear) and a Diploma in Public Administration.
Table of Contents
  • Introduction


  • The Constitutional Position of Parliament
  • Constitutional Supremacy: Theory vs Reality
  • Between Washington and Westminster: Malaysia’s System of Parliamentary Government
  • The YDPA and Parliament
  • The Prime Minister and the Cabinet System
  • The Electoral Process
  • Caretaker Government
  • The Functions of Parliament
  • The Institutions of Parliament
  • The Speaker’s Position and Functions
  • The Role of the Secretary to Parliament
  • The Administration of Parliament
  • The Order of Business
  • Question Time and Debates
  • Motions
  • Statements by Ministers
  • Ordinary Legislative Process
  • The Legislative Process for Financial Bills
  • The Committee System
  • The Special Chamber
  • Caucuses and Parliamentary Friendship Groups
  • Parliamentary Privilege, the Laws Governing Parliament and the Standing Orders
  • Parliament and the Courts
  • Parliament, Treaties and International Law
  • Parliament and the Public
  • Problems, Prospects and Proposals for Reform
  • Conclusion