Strengthening Malaysian Parliamentary Democracy Through Private Member’s Bills


  • Nurul Izzah Anwar
  • Nurul Jannah Mohd Jailani



Private Member’s Bill, Parliamentary Democracy, Legislative, Executive, Separation of Powers


At present, the ability of the Malaysian Legislature – specifically the House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat) – to effectively check and balance the powers of the Executive is impeded by the lack of a formal mechanism enabling the deliberation and debate of Private Member’s Bills. The Government or the Executive branch remains the primary agenda-setter in Parliamentary sittings, thus undermining the full extent of legislative independence and representative debate taking place in the August House. Drawing on local and international examples, this article argues in favour of allocating space to Private Member’s Bills within the parliamentary agenda and consequently returning legislators their rights and agencies towards strengthening Malaysia’s parliamentary democracy.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Nurul Izzah Anwar

Member of Parliament for Permatang Pauh

Nurul Jannah Mohd Jailani

Research Officer to Member of Parliament for Permatang Pauh


Arifin F.M. and Othman N., ‘The Dynamic of Policymaking Process in Malaysia’ (2018) 10(1) International Journal of West Asian Studies 74.

Article 19, ‘Malaysia: PM Najib Razak must fulfill promise to repeal Sedition Act without delay’ (Article 19, 4 November 2014) <> accessed 31 January 2021.

Case W., ‘Malaysia in 1992: Sharp Politics, Fast Growth, and a New Regional Role’ (1993) 33(2) Asian Survey 184.

Chow M.D., ‘Parliament mulling 11 more select committees’ (The Star, 25 April 2019) <> accessed 17 January 2021.

Das C., ‘The Basic Law Approach to Constitutionalism: Malaysia’s Experience Fifty Years On’ (2007) 15(2) Asia Pacific Law Review 219.

___ ‘Democracy And The Sultanate System In Malaysia’ (2019) 21 Journal of Malaysian and Comparative Law 97.

DR Deb 25 October 1966, Vol. III No. 13.

DR Deb 6 December 1988, Jil. II Bil. 63.

Faruqi S.S., ‘Proposals for parliamentary reforms’ (The Star, 21 Jun 2018) <> accessed 17 January 2021.

Fernandez J.M., ‘Malaysia’s Printing Presses and Publications Act: Time to Discard a Draconian Relic of a Bygone Era’ in Debatin B. (ed), The Cartoon Debate and the Freedom of the Press: Conflicting Norms and Values in the Global Media Culture (Berlin, Lit Verlag, 2007).

Hamid A.F.A., ‘Shifting Trends of Islamism and Islamist Practices in Malaysia, 1957–2017’ (2018) 7(3) Southeast Asian Studies 363.

Hansard Society, ‘How many Private Members’ Bills become law each parliamentary session?’ (Hansard Society, 2021) <> accessed 21 January 2021.

___ ‘Private Members’ Bills’ (Hansard Society, 2021) <> accessed 21 January 2021.

Human Rights Watch, ‘Malaysia: End Use of Sedition Act’ (Human Rights Watch, 17 July 2019) <> accessed 17 January 2021.

Ibrahim A. and Joned A., The Malaysian Legal System (1st edn, Kuala Lumpur, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1995).

Inter-Parliamentary Union, ‘Decision adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 203rd session’ (Inter-Parliamentary Union, 18 October 2018) <> accessed 17 January 2021.

Jaafar W.J.T., ‘Achieving real and effective parliamentary scrutiny of the executive’ (2008) 89(2) PARLIAMENTARIAN 19.

Kin K.C.C., ‘The Value of Private Member’s Bills in Parliament: A Process Comparison between Malaysia and the United Kingdom’ (Penang Institute Issues, 18 October 2019) <> accessed 18 January 2021.

Lee E.T.H., ‘Scope For Improvement: Malaysia’s Oil And Gas Sector’ (REFSA, July 2013) <> accessed 17 January 2021.

Lee J.C.H. and others, ‘Elections, Repertoires of Contention and Habitus in Four Civil Society Engagements in Malaysia’s 2008 General Elections’ (2010) 9(3) Social Movement Studies 293.

Lijphart A., Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty Six Countries (1st edn, London, Yale University Press, 1999).

___ Thinking about Democracy: Power Sharing and Majority Rule in Theory and Practice. (1st edn, London, Routledge, 2008).

Loganathan K. and others, ‘Fetters on Freedom of Information and Free Speech in Malaysia: A Study of the Licensing and Sedition Law’ (2015) 12(2) e-Bangi 297.

Loh D. and Surin J.A., Understanding the Dewan Rakyat (1st edn, Kuala Lumpur, ZI Publications Sdn Bhd, 2011).

Lopez G., ‘Nurul Izzah on the path towards democratising Malaysia’ (New Mandala, 26 March 2011) <> accessed 26 January 2021.

Lumsden L.J., ‘How independent? An analysis of GE13 coverage by Malaysia’s online news portal coverage’ (2013) 29(2) Jurnal Komunikasi: Malaysian Journal of Communication 1.

MacKay R., ‘Parliamentary Rules Concerning Private Members’ Bills’ (2018) Canadian Parliamentary Review 22.

Mahalingam E., ‘EITI approaches Petronas to adopt transparency standards’ (The Star, 10 Jun 2014) <> accessed 17 January 2021.

Mikuli P., ‘Separation of Powers’ (Oxford Constitutional Law, March 2018) <> accessed 27 January 2021.

Moriue S., ‘Support for Private Members’ Bills in the United Kingdom and Japan’ (2020) 41(3) Statute Law Review 304.

New Zealand Government, ‘Proposed members’ bills’ (New Zealand Government, 2021) <> accessed 18 January 2021.

Parliament of Malaysia, ‘Glossary’ (The Official Portal of Parliament of Malaysia, 18 January 2021) <> accessed 18 January 2021.

___ Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat (14th edn, Kuala Lumpur, Parliament of Malaysia, 2018).

SUARAM, Malaysia Human Rights Report 2017: Civil and Political Rights (1st edn, Petaling Jaya, Suara Inisiatif Sdn Bhd, 2018).

Sulong Z., ‘Mujahid mourns death of NUCC’ (Free Malaysia Today, 3 November 2016) <> accessed 31 January 2021.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, ‘Our Purpose’ (EITI, 2021) <> accessed 16 January 2021.

UK Parliament, ‘Private Members’ bills’ (UK Parliament, 2021) <> accessed 15 January 2021.

Vithiatharan V. and Gomez E.T., ‘Politics, Economic Crises and Corporate Governance Reforms: Regulatory Capture in Malaysia’ (2014) 44(4) Journal of Contemporary Asia 599.

Williams B.D. and Indridason I.H., ‘Luck of the draw? Private members’ bills and the electoral connection’ (2018) 6(02) Political Science Research and Methods 211.

Women’s Aid Organisation, ‘WAO Annual Report 2018’ (Women’s Aid Organisation, 2019) <> accessed 18 January 2021.