DEWAN NEGARA THE MALAYSIAN SENATE
I - COMPOSITION
- 69 members :
ð 26 of whom are indirectly elected, two senators for each state of the Federation,
ð 43 appointed by the Head of State, of which two senators represent the federal territory of Kuala Lumpur and one senator represents the federal territory of Labuan.
Appointed persons must have rendered outstanding services or obtained distinctions in commerce, industry, agriculture, cultural or social activities, or be representatives of racial minorities, or have competence over the representing of the interests of the Orang Asli people (the native people of the Malaysian peninsular and of Borneo).
II - ELECTORAL SYSTEM
Indirect voting system. Each of the 13 provincial legislative assemblies elects 2 senators.
Term of office : 3 years, re-electable only once.
Most recent election : 22 March 2004.
Eligibility : 30 years, Malaysian citizen, residence in the Federation.
Ineligibility : allegiance to a foreign State, prison sentence of one or more years or a fine of 2000 Ringgit or more.
Persons ineligible to hold office in Senate : Holders of a full time profit-making position in the public service.
Requirements for eligibility : support by two electors in the division. There is no requirement to belong to a party.
III - ORGANISATION OF SESSIONS
Parliament (consisting of the Senate and the Chamber of Representatives) is convened into session by the Head of State. There must be an interval of at least 6 months between 2 sessions.
IV - RELATIONS WITH THE OTHER CHAMBER AND THE EXECUTIVE
A - LEGISLATIVE POWERS
1) Powers to initiate legislation
These powers are held by the Senate (as well as by the Chamber of Representatives), except for financial and fiscal matters.
2) Right of amendment
Yes, but limited in the case of financial and fiscal matters.
3) Legislative Procedure
a) Laws which must be adopted by both Chambers
Once passed by the assembly in which it was tabled, a bill is forwarded to the other assembly.
When the latter has, in its turn, voted on it or when an agreement has been found between the two assemblies, the bill is forwarded for the assent of the Head of State, who then has a period of 30 days to append his signature.
If the text has not been signed on the conclusion of this period, it becomes law.
b) Laws only requiring adoption by the Chamber of Representatives
1 - Finance bills
Finance bills are tabled in the Chamber of Representatives.
When a finance bill has been passed by the Chamber of Representatives, it is forwarded to the Senate.
If the Senate, assuming the bill has been sent to it one month or more before the end of the session, does not pass it without modifications within a period of one month, the bill is then presented to the Head of State for signature, unless the Chamber of Representatives decides differently.
2 - In the following cases:
- a non-financial bill passed by the Chamber of Representatives, sent to the Senate at least one month before the end of the session, has not been passed by the second chamber or has been passed with amendments that have not received the agreement of the Chamber of Representatives;
- in the following session but not later than one year after its initial adoption by the Chamber of Representatives, the same draft without other modification apart from those certified by the President of the Chamber of Representatives as necessary in view of the passage of time since its initial adoption or embodying the amendments of the Senate, is again passed by the Chamber of Representatives and forwarded to the Senate at least one month before the end of the session. The Senate then either adopts it or adopts it with modifications which have not received the agreement of the Chamber of Representatives;
- this text, unless the Chamber of Representatives makes a different decision, is presented to the Head of State for signature, accompanied, where appropriate, by modifications which the two chambers have not accepted.
B - REVIEW POWERS
The Cabinet is responsible to Parliament (if the Prime Minister loses the confidence of the Chamber of Representatives, he calls for the dismissal of the Cabinet, unless the Head of State dissolves Parliament).
C - RELATIONS WITH THE HEAD OF STATE
The Head of State may address either of the assemblies or both, meeting in a joint sitting.
D - RIGHT OF ACCESS TO THE CABINET
The ministers are chosen from among the members of Parliament, and the prime minister is to be a member of the Chamber of Representatives.
In addition to the other rights attaching to him as a member of an assembly, each Cabinet member has the right to participate in meetings with the other assembly.
The Attorney General or any other Cabinet member may be nominated as a member of one of the Cabinet committees by the chamber of which he is a member.
E - DISSOLUTION - PROROGATION
The Head of State may prorogue or dissolve Parliament.
In the case of dissolution, a general election is to be organised within a period of 60 days starting from the date of dissolution and Parliament is convened to meet 120 days at the latest after that date.
V - SPECIAL PROVISIONS
A - MODIFICATIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION
The provisions of the Constitution may be modified by a federal law.
In order to be passed by one chamber, the text (apart from certain provisions) must - during the second and third readings - receive the votes of at least 2/3 of the total number of members of that assembly.
The provisions of the Constitution authorising, on the one hand , the Parliament in certain cases to restrict freedom of expression, of assembly and of association, with respect, on the other hand , to citizenship, the Royal Council, and also certain provisions in particular relating to the states , the national language or the advantages established for certain categories of the population, cannot be amended except by the consent of the Royal Council.
B - STATE OF EMERGENCY
A proclamation of a state of emergency made by the Head of State ceases to have effect if the two chambers adopt a resolution cancelling it.