The Federation of Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy with a system of parliamentary democracy. It comprises 13 states as well as two local territories, including the Federal capital Kuala Lumpur and Labuan. Each has its own head of state and an elected assembly. Nine of the states are ruled by hereditary sultans who, under a unique system, elect one of their own to be the constitutional monarch or Yang di-Pertuan Agong for a period of five years. Malaysia has a non-political, professional civil service, army and police and also an independent judiciary.
Proclamation of Independence Memorial Building in Melaka.
The Malaysian Parliament comprises the Senate (Dewan Negara) and the House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat). The Senators, whether appointed or elected, serve a six-year term, while members of the House of Representatives are elected for a five-year term in a single member constituency system. Since gaining its Independence from Britain on 31 August 1957, free and fair elections to the House of Representatives have been held regularly every five years or less. Constitutionally, a fresh general election must be held within five years of the preceding polls. The tenth general election was held on 29 November 1999.
Malaysia has an excellent record of parliamentary democracy. The country has been ruled by the National Front (Barisan Nasional) coalition dominated by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) since the first general election. Initially known as the Alliance Party, the coalition consisted of UMNO, Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC). In 1971, it was expanded to create the Barisan Nasional,which presently comprises 14 political parties.
This Malaysian Formula, achieved over 42 years, has spawned political stability, which in turn has made Malaysia into an attractive location for foreign investors and benefited its economic growth.
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