Explainer: Dissolution of Parliament in a Westminster-type system

The Malaysian Parliament. — FAIHAN GHANI/The Star

IN a Westminster-type parliamentary system of government like Malaysia’s, a general election is preceded by a formal dissolution of the elected lower house. This is an executive function, performed in Malaysia by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Prime Minister. The position is governed by Articles 40 and 43 of Malaysia’s Federal Constitution.

Under Article 40(1) and (1A) it is clear that the Agong must ordinarily act on the advice of the Cabinet. However, Article 40(2) provides for some exceptions to this, which include the appointment of a PM and the withholding of consent to a request to dissolve Parliament. These exceptions are familiar ones in parliamentary systems. But Article 40(2) has led to confusion over the power to dissolve Parliament.

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