The states and federal territories of Malaysia are the principal administrative divisions of Malaysia. Malaysia is a federation of 13 states (Negeri) and 3 federal territories (Wilayah Persekutuan).

States and federal territories

Eleven states and two federal territories are located on the Malay Peninsula, collectively called Peninsular Malaysia (Semenanjung Malaysia) or West Malaysia. Two states are on the island of Borneo, and the remaining federal territory consists of islands offshore of Borneo; they are collectively referred to as East Malaysia or Malaysian Borneo. Out of the 13 states in Malaysia, 9 are monarchies.


Flag Emblem/
State Capital Largest city Royal capital Pop.[1] Area (km2)[2] Licence plate Area code Abbr. ISO HDI[3] Region Head of state Head of government
Flag of Johor
Coat of arms of Johor
Johor Johor Bahru Muar 3,794,000 19,166 J 07, 06 (Muar & Tangkak) JHR MY-01 0.825 Peninsular Malaysia Sultan Menteri Besar
Flag of Kedah
Coat of arms of Kedah
Kedah Alor Setar Sungai Petani Anak Bukit 2,194,100 9,492 K 04 KDH MY-02 0.808 Peninsular Malaysia Sultan Menteri Besar
Flag of Kelantan
Coat of arms of Kelantan
Kelantan Kota Bharu Kubang Kerian 1,928,800 15,040 D 09 KTN MY-03 0.779 Peninsular Malaysia Sultan Menteri Besar
Flag of Malacca
Coat of arms of Malacca
Malacca Malacca City 937,500 1,712 M 06 MLK MY-04 0.835 Peninsular Malaysia Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Governor) Chief Minister
Flag of Negeri Sembilan
Coat of arms of Negeri Sembilan
Negeri Sembilan Seremban Seri Menanti 1,129,100 6,658 N 06 NSN MY-05 0.829 Peninsular Malaysia Yang di-Pertuan Besar
(Grand Ruler)
Menteri Besar
Flag of Pahang
Coat of arms of Pahang
Pahang Kuantan Pekan 1,684,600 35,965 C 09, 03 (Genting Highlands), 05 (Cameron) PHG MY-06 0.804 Peninsular Malaysia Sultan Menteri Besar
Flag of Penang
Coat of arms of Penang
Penang George Town Seberang Perai 1,774,400 1,049 P 04 PNG MY-07 0.845 Peninsular Malaysia Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Governor) Chief Minister
Flag of Perak
Coat of arms of Perak
Perak Ipoh Kuala Kangsar 2,508,900 21,146 A 05 PRK MY-08 0.816 Peninsular Malaysia Sultan Menteri Besar
Flag of Perlis
Coat of arms of Perlis
Perlis Kangar Arau 255,400 819 R 04 PLS MY-09 0.805 Peninsular Malaysia Raja Menteri Besar
Flag of Sabah
Coat of arms of Sabah
Sabah Kota Kinabalu 3,833,000 73,621 S 087–089 SBH MY-12 0.710 East Malaysia Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Governor) Chief Minister
Flag of Sarawak
Coat of arms of Sarawak
Sarawak Kuching 2,822,200 124,450 Q 081–086 SWK MY-13 0.745 East Malaysia Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Governor) Premier
Flag of Selangor
Coat of arms of Selangor
Selangor Shah Alam Petaling Jaya Klang 6,555,400 7,951 B 03 SGR MY-10 0.863 Peninsular Malaysia Sultan Menteri Besar
Flag of Terengganu
Coat of arms of Terengganu
Terengganu Kuala Terengganu 1,275,100 12,958 T 09 TRG MY-11 0.800 Peninsular Malaysia Sultan Menteri Besar

Federal Territories

Flag Emblem Federal Territory Capital Pop.[1] Area (km2)[2] License plate Area code Abbr. ISO HDI[3] Region Head of state Head of government
Flag of Kuala Lumpur
Seal of Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur 1,746,600 243 W / V 03 KUL MY-14 0.867 Peninsular Malaysia Yang di-Pertuan Agong Mayor
Flag of Labuan
Seal of Labuan
Labuan Victoria 100,100 92 L 087 LBN MY-15 0.784 East Malaysia President of Labuan Corporation
Flag of Putrajaya
Seal of Putrajaya
Putrajaya 116,100 49 F 03 PJY MY-16 0.877 Peninsular Malaysia President of Putrajaya Corporation


Main article: State governments in Malaysia

Malaysia and its states' flags at Putra Square, Putrajaya

The governance of the states is divided between the federal government and the state governments, while the federal territories are directly administered by the federal government.[4] The specific responsibilities of the federal and the state governments are listed in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution of Malaysia. Theoretically, any matter not set out in the Ninth Schedule can be legislated on by the individual states. However, legal scholars generally view this as a "pauper's bequest" because of the large scope of the matters listed in the Ninth Schedule. The courts themselves have generally favoured a broad interpretation of the language of the Ninth Schedule, thus limiting the number of possible subjects not covered. The Ninth Schedule specifically lists the following matters as those that can only be legislated on by the states: land tenure, the Islamic religion, and local government.[5]

Nine of the peninsular states, based on historical Malay kingdoms, are known as the Malay states. Each Malay state has a hereditary ruler as titular head of state and an executive Chief Minister or Menteri Besar as politically responsible head of government. The rulers of Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Pahang, Perak, Selangor and Terengganu are styled Sultans. Negeri Sembilan's elective ruler holds the title of Yamtuan Besar, whereas the ruler of Perlis is titled Raja. The federal head of state, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (commonly referred to as "King" in English) is elected (de facto rotated) among the nine rulers to serve a 5-year term.[6] Former British settlements and crown colonies of Penang and Malacca (both peninsular), and Sabah and Sarawak (both on Borneo) each have a titular Governor (styled Yang di-Pertua Negeri) appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and an executive Chief Minister or Ketua Menteri.[citation needed] except for Sarawak whose head of government is styled 'Premier'.

While the population of Malaysia is ethnically and religiously diverse, such diversity is spread throughout the country and not inherently reflected by the borders of the states. There is a significant distinction however between the peninsular states and the two states of East Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak, which have significant indigenous populations. Both states have greater autonomy that those on the peninsula,[7] including additional powers over their immigration controls as part of the 20-point agreement and 18-point agreement drawn up by the respective states when they, together with the Federation of Malaya and Singapore, formed Malaysia. They have separate immigration policies and controls and a unique residency status.[8] Passports are required even for Peninsular Malaysians for travelling between either state and Peninsular Malaysia, or between the two states, however those who are on social/business visits up to three months are allowed to produce a MyKad or birth certificate and obtain a special printout form in lieu of a passport.[citation needed]

Each state has a unicameral legislature called Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN, State Assembly). Members of DUN are elected from single-member constituencies drawn based on population. The state leader of the majority party in DUN is usually appointed Chief Minister by the Ruler or Governor. The term of DUN members is five years unless the assembly is dissolved earlier by the Ruler or Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister. Usually, DUN of the states in Peninsular Malaysia are dissolved in conjunction with the dissolution of the federal parliament, to have state elections running concurrently with the parliamentary election. However, Rulers and Governors hold discretionary powers in withholding consent to dissolve the DUN. Each state sends two senators elected by the DUN to the Dewan Negara (Senate), the upper house of the federal parliament.

The Parliament of Malaysia is permitted to legislate on issues of land, Islamic religion and local government to provide for a uniform law between different states, or on the request of the state assembly concerned. The law in question must also be passed by the state assembly as well, except in the case of certain land law-related subjects. Non-Islamic issues that fall under the purview of the state may also be legislated on at the federal level for the purpose of conforming with Malaysian treaty obligations.[5] Each state is further divided into districts, which are then divided into mukim. In Sabah and Sarawak districts are grouped into "Divisions".[9]

The 3 federal territories were formed for different purposes: Kuala Lumpur is the national capital, Putrajaya is the administrative centre of the federal government, and Labuan serves as an offshore financial centre. Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya were carved out of Selangor, while Labuan was ceded by Sabah. The territories fall under the purview of the Ministry of the Federal Territories, and the Parliament of Malaysia legislates on all matters concerning the territories. Each federal territory elects representatives from single-member constituencies drawn based on population to the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives) of the Parliament. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong appoints senators to represent the territories in the Dewan Negara; Kuala Lumpur has two senators, while Putrajaya and Labuan each has one.

The local governments for the territories varies: Kuala Lumpur is administered by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur), headed by an appointed mayor (Datuk Bandar), while Putrajaya is administered by the Putrajaya Corporation (Perbadanan Putrajaya) and Labuan by the Labuan Corporation (Perbadanan Labuan); each corporation is headed by a chairman.

Sabah and Sarawak

The building hosting the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly

The states of Sabah and Sarawak merged with the existing states of the Federation of Malaya and Singapore pursuant to the Malaysia Agreement in 1963 to form the independent state of Malaysia. Representatives from Sabah and Sarawak demanded a higher degree of autonomy as part of the bargain which were included in the 20-point agreement and 18-point agreement respectively. While both states arguably joined the federation as equals to Malaya, the Malayan government and constitution became the Malaysian government and constitution. The constitutional amendment codifying the enlarged federation initially listed Sabah and Sarawak separately to the other states, however it was later amended again to list both these entities together with the other states, suggesting a status equal to the original states of Malaya. Sabah and Sarawak still retained a higher degree of autonomy than the peninsular states in areas such as immigration, state revenue, and legislative power over land and local government. However, federal influence over their politics increased over time, including direct interference in the state assemblies.[7][10]

Restoration of Sabah and Sarawak status

Main articles: Proposed 2019 amendment to the Constitution of Malaysia and 2021 amendment to the Constitution of Malaysia

In conjunction with the celebration of Malaysia Day in 2018 under the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad promised to restore Sabah and Sarawak status in the Malaysian federation in accordance with the Malaysia Agreement, restoring "their status from merely a state to an equal partner of the Malayan states".[11][12] Although the status of both entities were clearly defined in Article I, Malaysia Agreement 1963 as 'states' which shall be federated with the existing states of the Federation of Malaya.[13] However, through the process of the amendment, the bill failed to pass following the failure to reach two-thirds majority support (148 votes) in the Parliament with only 138 agreed with the move while 59 abstained from the voting.[14][15][16] Nevertheless, the Malaysian federal government agreed to review the 1963 agreement to remedy breaches of the treaty with the "Special Cabinet Committee To Review the Malaysia Agreement" and directed a Special Task Force Team (Taskforce MA63) to prepare a final report on the 1963 agreement before 31 August 2019.[17][18]

Two years after the failed attempt, on 16 September 2021, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob pledged to look into issues relating to Sabah and Sarawak via the Special Council on Malaysia Agreement 1963, with negotiations being chaired by the Prime Minister, joined by the Chief Ministers of Sabah and Sarawak, as well as eight federal ministers.[19] On 19 October 2021, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Maximus Ongkili announced a Bill to be tabled in the coming Parliament sitting after the Special Council on Malaysia Agreement 1963 agreed to Articles 1(2) and 160(2) of the Federal Constitution to restore Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners to Peninsular Malaysia. The proposed law differs from the 2019 proposed amendments by the then Pakatan Harapan government, being tabled by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Parliament) Wan Junaidi. Discussions on restoring Sabahans and Sarawakians' rights will continue in the meantime. The same meeting also saw the council agree to empower both the Sabah and Sarawah governments to issue deep fishing licences as opposed to the federal government currently.[20] The amendments were tabled on 3 November 2021, consisting of four changes, being restoring Sabah and Sarawak as "partners", defining Malaysia Day as the day when Sabah and Sarawak joined and changes to the definition of the Federation, and defining who are natives of Sabah and Sarawak.[21] On 14 December 2021, the proposed amendment was passed in the Parliament unanimously with 199 votes in favour, and 21 MPs absent from the 6-hour long debate.[22] On 6 January 2022, Minister Ongkili announced the setting up of a joint technical committee to study Sabah's proposal for increased annual grants in addition to a counteroffer from the Federal Government.[23]

Singapore and Brunei

See also: Singapore in Malaysia

Singapore was a Malaysian state from the formation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963 until it was expelled from the Federation on 9 August 1965. During its time as a state of Malaysia, Singapore had autonomy in the areas of education and labour and was the smallest state in Malaysia by land area, but the largest by population.[24]

Brunei was invited to join the Federation but decided not to in the end due to several issues, such as the status of the Sultan within Malaysia, division of Bruneian oil royalties, and pressure from opposition groups which amounted to the Brunei Revolt.

See also

Administrative divisions:


  1. ^ The code MY10 is not used in FIPS 10-4 but was used for FIPS 10-3[25] (for Sabah)
  2. ^ Territories named in official language for both FIPS 10-4 and ISO 3166-2:MY code lists[26]
  3. ^ Wilayah Persekutuan defined as the territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya. Used by FIPS only


  1. ^ a b "Population of States from Ministry of Statistics". Ministry of Statistics of Malaysia. 2021. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Laporan Kiraan Permulaan 2010". Jabatan Perangkaan Malaysia. p. 27. Archived from the original on 27 December 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Subnational Human Development Index (2.1) [Malaysia]". Global Data Lab of Institute for Management Research, Radboud University. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  4. ^ "Federal Territories and State Governments". Archived from the original on 11 May 2011. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
  5. ^ a b Wu, Min Aun & Hickling, R. H. (2003). Hickling's Malaysian Public Law, pp. 64–66. Petaling Jaya: Pearson Malaysia. ISBN 983-74-2518-0.
  6. ^ "Malaysia". 14 July 2010. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
  7. ^ a b Harding, Andrew (25 January 2021). "Asymmetric Federalism and Protection of Indigenous Peoples: The Case of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysian Federalism". Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  8. ^ "NRD: 'H' indicates holder is a Sabahan | Daily Express Newspaper Online, Sabah, Malaysia". 5 June 2010. Archived from the original on 21 June 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
  9. ^ "Malaysia Districts". Retrieved 3 November 2010.
  10. ^ Shad Saleem Faruqi (8 September 2010). "From Malaya to Malaysia". The Star (Malaysia). Archived from the original on 19 February 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  11. ^ Stephanie Lee; Fatimah Zainal (16 September 2018). "Sabah, Sarawak to be restored as equal partners forming Malaysia, says Dr M". The Star. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  12. ^ "Sabah, Sarawak to be restored as equal partners forming Malaysia, not just component states, says PM Mahathir". The Star/Asia News Network. The Straits Times. 16 September 2018. Archived from the original on 17 September 2018. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  13. ^ "Malaysia Agreement" (PDF). United Nations Treaty Collection. 1963. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  14. ^ Adam Aziz (9 April 2019). "No two-thirds majority for Bill to make Sabah, Sarawak equal partners". The Edge Markets. Archived from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  15. ^ Yiswaree Palansamy (9 April 2019). "Pakatan's Federal Constitution amendment on Sabah, Sarawak foiled". The Malay Mail. Archived from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  16. ^ "Status of Sabah, Sarawak stays". Bernama. Daily Express. 10 April 2019. Archived from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  17. ^ "MA63: Seven issues resolved, 14 need further discussion, says PM's Office". Bernama. The Malay Mail. 19 August 2019. Archived from the original on 19 August 2019. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  18. ^ "Seven MA63 issues resolved". Bernama. Daily Express. 20 August 2019. Archived from the original on 20 August 2019. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  19. ^ "MA63: Govt to pay close attention to Sabah, Sarawak matters of interest — PM Ismail Sabri". The Edge. 16 September 2021. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  20. ^ Lee, Stephanie (19 October 2021). "Bill to return Sabah, Sarawak to equal constitutional status to be tabled soon, says Ongkili". The Star. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  21. ^ Razak, Radzi (3 November 2021). "Govt to table four constitutional amendments to restore Sabah and Sarawak's position". Malay Mail. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  22. ^ Zulkifli, Ahmad Mustakim (14 December 2021). "MPs unanimously vote for constitutional amendments to empower Sabah, Sarawak". MalaysiaNow. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  23. ^ Lee, Stephanie (6 January 2022). "Sabah's proposal to increase annual grants in MA63 committee meeting to be studied, says Ongkili". The Star. Retrieved 6 January 2022.
  24. ^ "Government Gazette". State of Singapore. Extraordinary. (G.N. 55). (1962, August 17). Singapore: [s.n.], p. 1093. (Call No.: RCLOS 959.57 SGG). Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  25. ^ USAid Geocode
  26. ^ MaxMind GeoIP