Prime Minister of Malaysia

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Prime Minister of Malaysia
Najib Razak 2008-08-21.jpg
Najib Razak

since 3 April 2009
Government of Malaysia
Prime Minister's Department
Style Yang Amat Berhormat (The Right Honourable)
Member of Cabinet
Reports to Parliament
Residence Seri Perdana
Seat Central Main Block of Perdana Putra, Putrajaya
Appointer Yang di-Pertuan Agong
Term length While commanding the confidence of the lower house of Parliament
With General Elections held no more than five years apart
Constituting instrument Federal Constitution of Malaysia
Inaugural holder Tunku Abdul Rahman
Formation 31 August 1957; 58 years ago (1957-08-31)
Deputy Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia
Salary MYR 22,826.65 monthly [1]
Coat of arms of Malaysia.svg
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The Prime Minister of Malaysia (Malay: Perdana Menteri Malaysia) is the chairman of the Cabinet and thus head of government for Malaysia, charged with advising the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the exercise of the executive powers vested in them by the constitution. It is in practice, the most powerful political position in Malaysia. As stated in the federal constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall select as Prime Minister the person most likely to command the confidence of the elected House of Representatives; this individual is typically the leader of the political party that holds the largest number of seats in that chamber.

The Prime Minister has always been from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) part of Barisan Nasional (previously Alliance) since independence. Tunku Abdul Rahman was the Chief Minister of the Federation of Malaya, restyled to Prime Minister of Malaysia in 16 September 1963 after the formation of Malaysia. Federation of Malaya became independent on 31 August 1957.[2]

The 6th and current prime minister is Najib Razak, who took office on 3 April 2009.


According to the federal constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall first appoint as Prime Minister to preside over the Cabinet and requires such Prime Minister to be a member of the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives) who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of that House and must not a Malaysian citizen by naturalization or by registration. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the Prime Minister's advice shall appoint other Ministers from either Dewan Rakyat or Dewan Negara.

The Prime Minister and his cabinet ministers must take and subscribe in the presence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong the oath of office and allegiance as well as the oath of secrecy before they can exercise the functions of office. The Cabinet shall be collectively responsible to Parliament of Malaysia. The members of the Cabinet shall not hold any office of profit and engage in any trade, business or profession that will cause conflict of interest. The Prime Minister's Department (sometimes referred to as the Prime Minister's Office) is the body and ministry in which the Prime Minister exercises its functions and powers.

If a government cannot get its appropriation (budget) legislation passed by the House of Representatives, or the house passes a vote of "no confidence" in the government, the Prime Minister is bound by convention to resign immediately. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong's choice of replacement prime minister will be dictated by the circumstances. 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.

Following a resignation in other circumstances, defeated in an election or the death of a prime minister, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong will generally appoint as Prime Minister the person voted by the governing party as their new leader.


The power of the prime minister is subject to a number of limitations. Prime ministers removed as leader of his or her party, or whose government loses a vote of no confidence in the House of Representatives, must advise a new election of the lower house or resign the office or be dismissed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The defeat of a supply bill (one that concerns the spending of money) or unable to pass important policy-related legislation is seen to require the resignation of the government or dissolution of Parliament, much like a non-confidence vote, since a government that cannot spend money is hamstrung, also called loss of supply.

The prime minister's party will normally have a majority in the House of Representatives and party discipline is exceptionally strong in Malaysian politics, so passage of the government's legislation through the House of Representatives is mostly a formality.

Under the Constitution, the Prime Minister’s role includes advising the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on:

  • the appointment of the federal ministers (full members of cabinet);
  • the appointment of the federal deputy ministers, parliamentary secretaries (non-full members of cabinet);
  • the appointment of 44 out of 70 Senators in the Dewan Negara;
  • the summoning and adjournment of sittings of the Dewan Rakyat;
  • the appointment of judges of the superior courts (which are the High Courts, the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court);
  • the appointment of the Attorney-General and the Auditor-General;
  • the appointment of the chairmen and members of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, Election Commission, Police Force Commission, Education Service Commission, National Finance Council and Armed Forces Council; and
  • the appointment of the Governors of Malacca, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak.

Caretaker Prime Minister[edit]

Under Article 55(3) of Constitution of Malaysia, the lower house of Parliament unless sooner dissolved by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong with HM's own discretion on the advice of the prime minister shall continue for five years from the date of its first meeting. Article 55(4) of the Constitution permits a delay of 60 days of general election to be held from the date of dissolution and Parliament shall be summoned to meet on a date not later than 120 days from the date of dissolution. Conventionally, between the dissolution of one Parliament and the convening of the next, the prime minister and the cabinet remain in office in a caretaker capacity.

Acting Prime Minister[edit]

From time to time prime ministers are required to leave the country on business and a deputy is appointed to take their place during that time. In the days before jet airplanes, such absences could be for extended periods.

  • Abdul Razak Hussein was the Acting Prime Minister after the first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman stepped down as Prime Minister for three months in 1959 in order to strengthen his party, the Alliance for the 1959 federal elections after it had lost two states, Kelantan and Terengganu, in the State Elections which at that time were held before the Federal contest.
  • Ismail Abdul Rahman occasionally acted as Acting Prime Minister when Tunku Abdul Rahman and Abdul Razak Hussein was on leave for going abroad.[3]
  • V. T. Sambanthan was called to serve as Acting Prime Minister and chair the cabinet meeting for a day when the former Prime Minister Abdul Razak Hussein was overseas and his deputy Ismail Abdul Rahman had passed away.[4]
  • In 1988, when UMNO as the founding member of the Barisan Nasional coalition was declared unlawful and illegal political party, Mahathir Mohamad was disqualified as the Barisan Nasional chairman. Ling Liong Sik became the new Chairman of the Barisan Nasional and served as an Acting Prime Minister for a couple of days until the new party, UMNO Baru was legalised by the Registrar of Societies (ROS).
  • Anwar Ibrahim acted as an Acting Prime Minister for two months started from 19 May 1997 as Mahathir Mohamad was on vacation.[5]

List of Prime Ministers of Malaysia[edit]

Colour key
(for political parties)
Prime Minister Term of Office Cabinet Electoral mandates
Portrait Name
Political Party Took Office Left Office Days
1 Tunku abd rahman.jpg Tunku Abdul Rahman
MLC for Sungei Muda, 1955–1959
MP for Kuala Kedah, 1959–1973
Alliance Party (UMNO) 31 August 1957 22 September 1970 4770 1. Rahman I 1955
2. Rahman II 1959 (1st)
3. Rahman III 1964 (2nd)
4. Rahman IV 1969 (3rd)
First Malayan Five-Year Plan; Malayan Emergency; Second Malayan Five-Year Plan; Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation; Malaysia Agreement; PAP–UMNO relations; Independence of Singapore Agreement 1965; First Malaysia Plan; Association of Southeast Asian Nations; Organisation of Islamic Cooperation; 13 May Incident; He is often referred to as Father of Independence (Bapa Kemerdekaan) and Father of Malaysia (Bapa Malaysia)
2 Tun Abdul Razak (MY 2nd PM).jpg Abdul Razak Hussein
MLC for Semantan, 1955–1959
MP for Pekan, 1959–1976
Alliance Party (UMNO) 22 September 1970 14 January 1976 1940 5. Razak I – (3rd)
(2) Barisan Nasional (UMNO) 6. Razak II 1974 (4th)
Razak Report; National Operations Council; 1971 constitutional amendments; Second Malaysia Plan; Malaysian New Economic Policy; The youngest to be elected in the office, at the age of 48. He is referred to as Father of Development (Bapa Pembangunan)
3 Tun Hussein Onn (MY 3rd PM).jpg Hussein Onn
MP for Johore Bahru Timor, 1971–1974
MP for Sri Gading, 1974–1981
Barisan Nasional (UMNO) 14 January 1976 16 July 1981 2010 7. Hussein I – (4th)
8. Hussein II 1978 (5th)
Third Malaysia Plan; 1977 Kelantan Emergency; Fourth Malaysia Plan; He is referred to as Father of Unity (Bapa Perpaduan)
4 Mahathir Mohamad 2007.jpg Mahathir Mohamad
MP for Kubang Pasu Barat, 1964–1969
MP for Kubang Pasu, 1974–2004
Barisan Nasional (UMNO) 16 July 1981 31 October 2003 8142 9. Mahathir I – (5th)
10. Mahathir II 1982 (6th)
11. Mahathir III 1986 (7th)
12. Mahathir IV 1990 (8th)
13. Mahathir V 1995 (9th)
14. Mahathir VI 1999 (10th)
Privatisation Policy; 1983 constitutional amendments; Fifth Malaysia Plan; Operation Lalang; 1988 constitutional amendments; Sixth Malaysia Plan; 1993 constitutional amendments; Seventh Malaysia Plan; Eighth Malaysia Plan; He is the longest-serving Prime Minister of Malaysia. He led the BN into 5 consecutive election victories. He is referred to as Father of Modernisation (Bapa Pemodenan)
5 AB April 2008.jpg Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
MP for Kepala Batas, 1978–2013
Barisan Nasional (UMNO) 31 October 2003 3 April 2009 1981 15. Abdullah I – (10th)
16. Abdullah II 2004 (11th)
17. Abdullah III 2008 (12th)
Ninth Malaysia Plan; The oldest to be elected in the office, at the age of 64. He is referred to as Father of Human Capital Development (Bapa Pembangunan Modal Insan)
6 Najib Razak 2008-08-21.jpg Najib Razak
MP for Pekan, 1976–1982,
since 1986
Barisan Nasional (UMNO) 3 April 2009 Incumbent 2433 18. Najib I – (12th)
19. Najib II 2013 (13th)
1Malaysia; Tenth Malaysia Plan; Eleventh Malaysia Plan; Prior to his appointment as PM, he served as Deputy Prime Minister (2004–2009), Minister of Defence, Minister of Education, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports. He is referred to as Father of Transformation (Bapa Transformasi)

Living former Prime Ministers[edit]

Prime ministers are usually granted certain privileges after leaving office at government expense. Former prime ministers continue to be important national figures.

Name Term of office Date of birth
Mahathir Mohamad 1981–2003 10 July 1925 (age 90)
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi 2003–2009 26 November 1939 (age 76)

The most recently deceased prime minister was Tunku Abdul Rahman (1903–1990), who died on 6 December 1990.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "PM gets salary of RM22,800 a month". 
  2. ^ The UK Statute Law Database: Federation of Malaya Independence Act 1957 (c. 60)
  3. ^ "Tokoh Negara". Retrieved 27 September 2013. 
  4. ^ "We should not forget Sambanthan’s contributions - Opinion | The Star Online". Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  5. ^ Kronologi membawa kepada pelucutan semua jawatan. Retrieved on 27 September 2013.[unreliable source?]