Prime Minister of Malaysia

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Prime Minister of Malaysia
Perdana Menteri Malaysia
Coat of arms of Malaysia.svg
Official emblem of the Office of the Prime Minister
TSMY Menteri Dalam Negeri.jpg
Muhyiddin Yassin

since 1 March 2020
Government of Malaysia
Prime Minister's Department
StyleYang Amat Berhormat
(The Most Honourable)
unless otherwise specified
StatusHead of government
Member ofCabinet
National Finance Council
House of Representatives
Reports toParliament
ResidenceSeri Perdana
SeatPerdana Putra, Putrajaya
AppointerYang di-Pertuan Agong
Term length5 years or less, renewable once (while commanding the confidence of the lower house of Parliament with General Elections held no more than five years apart)
Constituting instrumentFederal Constitution of Malaysia
Inaugural holderTunku Abdul Rahman
Formation31 August 1957; 62 years ago (1957-08-31)
SalaryMYR 22,826.65 per month[1]

The Prime Minister of Malaysia (Malay: Perdana Menteri Malaysia) is the head of government and the highest political office in Malaysia. The prime minister leads the executive branch of the federal government. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong appoints a member of Parliament (MP) who, in his opinion, is most likely to command the confidence of a majority of MPs, the prime minister, usually the leader of the party winning the most seats in a general election.

After the formation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963, Tunku Abdul Rahman, the chief minister of the Federation of Malaya, became the first prime minister of Malaysia.


The prime minister’s office at Perdana Putra, Putrajaya

According to the Federal Constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall first appoint a prime minister to preside over the Cabinet. The prime minister is to be a member of the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives), and who in his majesty's judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of that House. This person must be a Malaysian citizen, but cannot have obtained their citizenship by means of naturalisation or registration. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall appoint other ministers from either the Dewan Rakyat or Dewan Negara (Senate) with the prime minister's advice.

The prime minister and his cabinet ministers must take and subscribe to the oath of office and allegiance as well as the oath of secrecy in the presence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong before they can exercise functions of office. The Cabinet is collectively accountable to the Parliament of Malaysia. The members of the Cabinet shall not hold any office of profit and engage in any trade, business or profession that will cause a conflict of interest. The Prime Minister's Department (sometimes referred to as the Prime Minister's Office) is the body and ministry in which the prime minister exercises his/her functions and powers.

In the case where a government cannot get its appropriation (budget) legislation passed by the House of Representatives, or when the House passes a vote of "no confidence" in the government, the prime minister is bound by convention to resign immediately. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong's choice of replacement prime minister will be dictated by the circumstances. All other ministers shall continue to hold office by the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, unless if the appointment of any minister is revoked by his majesty upon the advice of the prime minister. Any minister may resign his office.

Following a resignation in other circumstances, defeat in an election, or the death of a prime minister, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong would generally appoint as Prime Minister the leader of the governing party.


The power of the prime minister is subject to a number of limitations. Prime ministers removed as leader of his or her party, or whose government loses a vote of no confidence in the House of Representatives, must advise a new election of the lower house or resign the office. The defeat of a supply bill (one that concerns the spending of money) or unable to pass important policy-related legislation is seen to require the resignation of the government or dissolution of Parliament, much like a non-confidence vote, since a government that cannot spend money is hamstrung, also called loss of supply.

The prime minister's party will normally have a majority in the House of Representatives and party discipline is exceptionally strong in Malaysian politics, so passage of the government's legislation through the House of Representatives is mostly a formality.

Under the Constitution, the prime minister’s role includes advising the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on:

  • the appointment of the federal ministers (full members of cabinet);
  • the appointment of the federal deputy ministers, parliamentary secretaries (non-full members of cabinet);
  • the appointment of 44 out of 70 Senators in the Dewan Negara;
  • the summoning and adjournment of sittings of the Dewan Rakyat;
  • the appointment of judges of the superior courts (which are the High Courts, the Court of Appeal, and the Federal Court);
  • the appointment of the attorney-general and the auditor-general; and
  • the appointment of the chairmen and members of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, Election Commission, Police Force Commission, Education Service Commission, National Finance Council, and Armed Forces Council;

Under Article 39 of the Constitution, executive authority is vested in the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. However, Article 40(1) states that in most cases, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is bound to exercise his powers on the advice of the Cabinet or a minister acting under the Cabinet's general authority. Thus, most of the day-to-day work of governing is actually done by the prime minister and the Cabinet.

Caretaker prime minister[edit]

Under Article 55(3) of Constitution of Malaysia, the lower house of Parliament, unless sooner dissolved by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong with his own discretion on the advice of the prime minister, shall continue for five years from the date of its first meeting. Article 55(4) of the Constitution permits a delay of 60 days of general election to be held from the date of dissolution and Parliament shall be summoned to meet on a date not later than 120 days from the date of dissolution. Conventionally, between the dissolution of one Parliament and the convening of the next, the prime minister and the cabinet remain in office in a caretaker capacity.

List of prime ministers of Malaysia[edit]

Colour key (for political coalitions/parties):
  Alliance   Barisan Nasional   Pakatan Harapan   Perikatan Nasional

Portrait Name

(birth and death) Constituency

Term of office Coalition / Party Duration
Tunku abd rahman.jpg Tunku Abdul Rahman

MLC for Sungei Muda, 1955–1959
MP for Kuala Kedah, 1959–1973

31 August 1957 22 September 1970 Alliance Party (UMNO) 13 years, 22 days
1955, 1959, 1964, 1969
First Malayan Five-Year Plan; Malayan Emergency; Second Malayan Five-Year Plan; National Education Policy; Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation; Malaysia Agreement; PAP–UMNO relations; Independence of Singapore Agreement 1965; 1966 Sarawak Emergency; First Malaysia Plan; Association of Southeast Asian Nations; Organisation of Islamic Cooperation; 13 May Incident; Served as Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of External Affairs, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports. He is often referred to as Father of Independence (Bapa Kemerdekaan) and Father of Malaysia (Bapa Malaysia).
Tun Abdul Razak (MY 2nd PM).jpg Abdul Razak Hussein

MLC for Semantan, 1955–1959
MP for Pekan, 1959–1976

(Died in office)

22 September 1970 14 January 1976 Alliance Party (UMNO) 5 years, 114 days
Razak Report; National Operations Council; 1971 constitutional amendments; Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality; National Culture Policy; National Energy Policy; National Petroleum Policy; Second Malaysia Plan; Malaysian New Economic Policy; The youngest to be elected in the office, at the age of 48. Served as Minister of Education, Minister of Defence, Minister of Rural Development, Minister of National and Rural Development, Minister of Lands and Mines, Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Finance. He is referred to as Father of Development (Bapa Pembangunan).
Tun Hussein Onn (MY 3rd PM).jpg Hussein Onn

MP for Johore Bahru Timor, 1971–1974
MP for Sri Gading, 1974–1981

15 January 1976 16 July 1981 BN (UMNO) 5 years, 182 days
Third Malaysia Plan; 1977 Kelantan Emergency; Malaysian Technical Corporation Plan; Fourth Malaysia Plan. Served as Minister of Education, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Minister of Finance, Minister of Coordination of Public Corporations, Minister of Defence, Minister of Federal Territories. He is referred to as Father of Unity (Bapa Perpaduan).
Mahathir 1984 cropped.jpg Mahathir Mohamad

(b. 1925)
MP for Kota Star Selatan, 1964–1969
MP for Kubang Pasu, 1974–2004

16 July 1981 30 October 2003 BN (UMNO) 22 years, 106 days
1982, 1986, 1990, 1995, 1999
Clean, Fair and Trustworthy; Look East Policy; Privatisation Policy; Malaysia Incorporated Policy; Buy British Last; Leadership by Example; 70 Million Population Policy; Heavy Industry Policy; Application of Islamic Values Policy; 1983 constitutional amendments; Fifth Malaysia Plan; 1986 Sabah Emergency; Operation Lalang; 1988 constitutional amendments; Vision 2020; Sixth Malaysia Plan; 1993 constitutional amendments; Seventh Malaysia Plan; Eighth Malaysia Plan; He is the longest-serving Prime Minister of Malaysia. He led the BN into 5 consecutive election victories. Served as Minister of Education, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Finance. He is referred to as Father of Modernisation (Bapa Pemodenan).
Abdullah Badawi official 2009.jpg Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

(b. 1939)
MP for Kepala Batas, 1978–2013

31 October 2003 3 April 2009 BN (UMNO) 5 years, 154 days
2004, 2008
Ninth Malaysia Plan. Served as Minister without Portfolio, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Minister of Education, Minister of Defence, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Finance, Minister of Internal Security. He is referred to as Father of Human Capital Development (Bapa Pembangunan Modal Insan).
Najib Razak 2008-08-21.jpg Najib Razak

(b. 1953)
MP for Pekan, 1976–1982, since 1986

3 April 2009 9 May 2018 BN (UMNO) 9 years, 36 days
Tenth Malaysia Plan; Eleventh Malaysia Plan; 1MDB. Prior to his appointment as PM, he served as Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Minister of Youth and Sports, Minister of Defence, Minister of Education, Minister of Finance. He is referred to as Father of Transformation (Bapa Transformasi).
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (42910851015) (cropped).jpg Mahathir Mohamad

(b. 1925)
MP for Langkawi, since 2018

10 May 2018 29 February 2020 PH (PPBM) 1 year, 290 days (6 days as interim PM from 24th February 2020 to 1 March 2020)
This is his second appointment as Prime Minister, 15 years after his retirement from politics. He was the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1981 to 2003 and referred as Father of Modernisation (Bapa Pemodenan). He is the only person to hold the position for two opposing political parties. He is the oldest Prime Minister to be elected at the age of 92.
TSMY Menteri Dalam Negeri.jpg Muhyiddin Yassin

(b. 1947)
MP for Pagoh, 1978–1986, since 1995

1 March 2020 Incumbent PN (PPBM) 33 days
Served as Menteri Besar of Johor, Minister of Youth and Sports, Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, Minister of International Trade and Industry, Minister of Education and the Minister of Home Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister.


Muhyiddin YassinMahathir MohamadNajib RazakAbdullah Ahmad BadawiMahathir MohamadHussein OnnAbdul Razak HusseinTunku Abdul Rahman

List of acting prime ministers (Interim) of Malaysia[edit]

From time to time, prime ministers are required to leave the country on business and a deputy is appointed to take their place during that time. In the days before jet aeroplanes, such absences could be for extended periods. However, the position can be fully decided by the Yang Di-pertuan Agong, The King of Malaysia when the position remains empty following the sudden resignation or death of the prime minister.

  • Abdul Razak Hussein was the acting prime minister after the first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, stepped down as prime minister for three months in 1959 to strengthen his party, the Alliance for the 1959 federal elections after it had lost two states, Kelantan and Terengganu, in the state elections which at that time were held before the federal contest.
  • Ismail Abdul Rahman occasionally acted as acting prime minister when Tunku Abdul Rahman and Abdul Razak Hussein were on leave for going abroad.
  • V. T. Sambanthan was called to serve as acting prime minister and chair the cabinet meeting for a day when the former prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein was overseas and his deputy Ismail Abdul Rahman had died.
  • In 1988, when UMNO as the founding member of the Barisan Nasional coalition was declared unlawful and illegal political party, Mahathir Mohamad was disqualified as the Barisan Nasional chairman. Ling Liong Sik became the new chairman of the Barisan Nasional and served as an acting prime minister for a couple of days until the new party, UMNO Baru, was legalised by the Registrar of Societies (ROS).
  • Anwar Ibrahim acted as an acting prime minister for two months started from 19 May 1997 as Mahathir Mohamad was on vacation.
  • During the 2020 Malaysian political crisis, Mahathir Mohamad had been appointed as the interim prime minister by the Yang Dipertuan Agong following the abrupt resignation of he himself as the 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia since he won the 14th General Election massively in 2018 while the King himself decided the appointment of Muhyiddin Yassin as the new 8th Prime Minister of Malaysia few days later.

Colour key (for political parties):

  Alliance   Barisan Nasional   Pakatan Harapan

Portrait Name


Term of office Political Party
Tun Abdul Razak (MY 2nd PM).jpg Abdul Razak Hussein (1922–1976) 1 August 1959 31 August 1959 Alliance (UMNO)
Ismail Abdul Rahman


22 September 1970 22 September 1970
V. T. Sambanthan 2 August 1973 13 August 1973
Tun Hussein Onn (MY 3rd PM).jpg Hussein Onn (1922–1990) 3 August 1974 30 August 1974
Barisan Nasional (UMNO)
Mahathir 2007.jpg Mahathir Mohamad (b. 1925) 5 March 1976 16 July 1976
Musa Hitam (b. 1934) 1 March 1986 16 March 1986
Ling Liong Sik 1988 1988
Ghafar Baba.jpg Abdul Ghafar Baba (1925–2006) 10 May 1993 15 October 1993
Anwar 980416.jpg Anwar Ibrahim(b. 1947) 1 December 1997 2 September 1997
Abdullah Badawi in April 2008.jpg Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (b. 1939) 8 January 1999 8 January 1999
Najib Razak 2008-08-21.jpg Najib Razak (b. 1953) 7 January 2004 3 April 2009
MuhyiddinUS.jpg Muhyiddin Yassin (b. 1947) 10 April 2014 29 July 2014
AZHThai.jpg Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (b. 1953) 29 July 2015 10 May 2015
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (42910851015) (cropped).jpg Mahathir Mohamad (b. 1925) 24 February 2020 1 March 2020 PH (PPBM)

Living former prime ministers[edit]

Prime ministers are usually granted certain privileges after leaving office at government expense. Former prime ministers continue to be important national figures.

Name Term(s) of office Date of birth
Mahathir Mohamad 1981–2003, 2018–2020 10 July 1925 (age 94)
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi 2003–2009 26 November 1939 (age 80)
Najib Razak 2009–2018 23 July 1953 (age 66)

The most recently deceased prime minister was Tunku Abdul Rahman (1903–1990), who died on 6 December 1990.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CPPS Policy Factsheet: Remuneration of Elected Officials in Malaysia" (PDF). Centre for Public Policy Studies. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 May 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016.