Separation of powers in "new Malaysia": hope and expectations

Richard Foo, Amber Tan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch


This article reviews contemporary events in Malaysia involving the "1MDB" corruption scandal and the country's 14th general election held on 9 May 2018 that changed the national government for the first time after 60 years of nationhood. Underlying those events were political and legal contests concerning the separation of powers within Malaysia's constitutional system. Serious erosion of the separation of powers that occurred under the previous government contributed to the scandal that implicated the Prime Minister personally and endangered the nation's ability to change the government through free and fair elections. The new government has proposed institutional reforms with the aim of rebuilding a strong separation of powers system. This article examines selected institutions that those reforms will involve and offers some initial observations on the trajectory and efficacy of the proposed reforms. The institutions include Parliament; the ministerial departments and other executive entities including the public services, the anti-corruption commission and the Attorney-General; and the judiciary. The institution of constitutional monarchy is also examined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-567
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of International and Comparative Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Malaysia
  • institutional reforms
  • separation of powers
  • 1MBD
  • elections
  • government accountability
  • parliamentary scrutiny
  • judicial independence and accountability
  • Attorney-General
  • constitutional monarchy

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