Constitutional Monarchy and Malaysia

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Question 1

Discuss the concept of constitutional monarchy with reference to Malaysia

i. Constitutional monarchy in general

Constitutional monarchy can be described as a form of government in which a monarch acts as the head of state but functions within the parameters or guidelines of a written and/or unwritten constitution. Although the government may function officially in the monarch’s name, the monarch does not set public policies or choose the political leaders. Constitutional monarchy therefore differs from absolute monarchy where the monarch controls political decision making without being restricted by constitutional constraints. Consequently, a constitutional monarch has often been defined as a sovereign who reigns but does not rule. Constitutional monarchies have also been called limited monarchies, crowned republics or parliamentary monarchies.

It has been observed that most constitutional monarchies have a parliamentary system in which the monarch may have ceremonial duties or reserve powers according to the constitution. In the United Kingdom, the rights and duties of the head of state are established by conventions. These are non-statutory rules which are just as binding as formal constitutional rules. The monarch’s reserve powers include the power to grant pardons, bestow honours, appoint and dismiss a prime minister, refusal to dissolve parliament, and refusal or delay royal assent to legislation. Strict constitutional conventions govern the usage of reserve powers. If these powers are used in contravention of tradition, it will generally provoke a constitutional crisis.

In a constitutional monarchy, a directly or indirectly-elected prime minister will serve as the head of government and will exercise poli...

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Nordin, M. and H. Hussiin. 2011. Malaysian Studies. Shah Alam: Oxford Fajar Sdn. Bhd.

Jali, N.H.M., M. Redzuan, A.A. Saman, and I.H.M. Rashid. 2010. Malaysian Studies: Nationhood and Citizenship. Petaling Jaya: Prentice Hall.

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