The Cabinet of Malaysia is the executive branch of Malaysia's government. Led by the Prime Minister, the cabinet is a council of ministers who are accountable collectively to the Parliament. According to the Article 43 of the Constitution, members of the Cabinet can only be selected from members of either houses of Parliament. Formally, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong appoints all Ministers on the advice of the Prime Minister. The constitution is amended by repealing the Clause (8) of Article 43, enabling a person who is a member of State Legislative Assembly to continue to be one even when he or she is appointed as a minister or deputy minister in the cabinet. Ministers other than the Prime Minister shall hold office during the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, unless the appointment of any Minister shall have been revoked by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Prime Minister but any Minister may resign his office. In practice, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is obliged to follow the advice of the Prime Minister on the appointment and dismissal of ministers.
Members of the Cabinet must be members of either house of Parliament. Most ministers are appointed from the lower house, the Dewan Rakyat, although a few are appointed from the upper house, the Dewan Negara. The Prime Minister must be a member of the Dewan Rakyat. Although Deputy Ministers and/or Parliamentary Secretaries may be appointed to each portfolio, they are not included in the Cabinet. The Cabinet meets weekly, every Wednesday. After the position of Parliamentary Secretary was removed and partial live telecasts of Parliament proceedings began in 2008, Cabinet meetings were moved to Fridays whenever Parliament sat, so as to allow Ministers to personally answer questions during Question Time in Parliament.
The composition of the Cabinet, and the number of portfolios depends mainly on the wishes of the Prime Minister at the time. However, the post of Finance Minister was considered so important as to be a necessity, and as a result was incorporated by the Minister of Finance (Incorporation) Act 1957 (Act 375). The position of Deputy Prime Minister is one that exists by convention, and as a result a Prime Minister could theoretically form a Cabinet without a Deputy.
Deputy ministers exist for each portfolio, although they are not considered members of the Cabinet. The position of Deputy Minister was created by constitutional amendment in 1960. The office of parliamentary secretary for each ministry exists but none were appointed after the 2008 Malaysian general election. Parliamentary secretaries were provided for by an amendment in 1963. Deputy ministers and parliamentary secretaries are also appointed from members of Parliament, and deputise for the ministers in government ministries and in Parliament respectively. An additional office, that of the Political Secretary, exists. Political Secretaries need not be members of Parliament. Before taking office, all members of the Cabinet, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, and Political Secretaries take an oath of secrecy concerning the proceedings of the Cabinet. (See also Official Secrets Act (Malaysia).)
An outline of the functions of the Cabinet are as follow:
To formulate national economic policies and development programs.
The Cabinet is responsible to formulate various development programs and projects for the development of the country. Examples are the New Economic Policy (NEP), the National Development Policy (NDP), and the National Vision Policy (NVP).
To set the budget and finance of the country.
The government is allowed to generate revenues from the people through the collection of taxes, fines, summons, custom duties, fees, etc.
The government is allowed to plan for the various development programs, and also to allocate the resources for these development plans and programs.
As an arena for suggestions, debates, and criticisms.
The Cabinet is allowed to discuss almost any issues of national interests, except those that touch on the special rights of the Malays, Bumiputeras and/or royal privileges. Article 153 (1): It shall be the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and Natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak, and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article.
To propose and amend the law.
Law is proposed by the Executive and introduce in Parliament with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd readings for approval.
Most provisions for the amendments of the constitution requires a 2/3 majority of the total number of members from both the Houses or Dewans.
The bill must be presented to the YDPA for the final assent.