With the election just around the corner, the political sphere can seem overwhelming to navigate especially for first time voters. Don’t fret though! In this post, I’ll be giving a low-down on how Malaysian politics and the election works (just enough to get you started or at least maintain a conversation). Here in Malaysia, there are two concurrent systems in place: (1) the constitutional monarchy and the (2) the federal representative democracy. The constitutional monarchy which means everyone, even the sultans are is bounded by and not above the constitution. The federal representative democracy refers to us voting for representatives.
Since 1955, Malaysia has had elections every 5 years. Based on the British parliamentary system, the country is geographically divided into constituencies by which citizens vote for representatives for both at the state level and the federal level respectively. The state level refers to members of the Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN or State Legislative Assembly) meanwhile at the federal level, it’s voting for members of parliament in the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives). The DUN deals with municipal affairs governing civil direction in a society (e.g. potholes, townships rules). The party with the majority of seats in the DUN forms the state government and their leader becomes the Menteri Besar.
On the other hand, the Dewan Rakyat deals with policies and national issues (e.g. writing, passing and appealing legislation). The party who has the majority of seats in the Dewan Rakyat form the federal government and elect our prime minister. As of 2013, there are a total 222 seats in parliament that forms the 222 constituencies. It is important to note that the determination of these constituencies can be seen as problematic to say the least (look up gerrymandering).
As citizens of this country it is our right to vote. Voting is not only a privilege but it is also a responsibility that we should take seriously as it affects us. This is why it is very important for us to be an informed and politically knowledgeable. Read as much as possible from different and varied sources. Remember a lot of news tends to be presented depending on the context of the association that makes it, i.e. some sources are owned by certain people that benefits from news being framed that way. News has become so commercialized that we can’t take everything word for word and with social media it is even more justifiable that we stay vigilant. So don’t forget your IC, head on over to your designated voting booth and remember to mark X at your desired candidates and let’s hope for the best (but internally prepare for the worst).