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Local government in Malaysia

The local government or local authority (Malay: kerajaan tempatan or pihak berkuasa tempatan (PBT)) is the lowest level in the system of government in Malaysia—after federal and state. It has the power to collect taxes (in the form of assessment tax), to create laws and rules (in the form of by-laws) and to grant licenses and permits for any trade in its area of jurisdiction, in addition to providing basic amenities, collecting and managing waste and garbage as well as planning and developing the area under its jurisdiction. Local authorities in Malaysia are generally under the exclusive purview of the state governments and headed by a civil servant with the title Yang Di-Pertua (President).

The local government system in Malaysia was a legacy of British colonisation, with many of its laws derived from and modeled on English laws. However, with the passing of times, many local unique social and cultural characteristics have influenced the working of the local governments in Malaysia.


In total, there were 6 types of local government prior to the 1973 restructuring exercise. The total number of local councils in Malaysia then was 418. The types were:

  • City Council
  • Municipal Council
  • Town Council
  • Town Board
  • Rural District Council
  • Local Council

The enforcement of Local Government Act 1976 established in essence only two types of local council – one for municipality and one for rural area. However, a city status can be conferred to a municipal council by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong with the consent of the Conference of Rulers once it reached the necessary criteria. Apart of that mentioned by the Act 171, there are many other agencies established and charged with the role of a local council. These so-called modified local authorities were established under newly created, separate and special Act of Parliament or state enactments or ordinances. In total there are currently four type of local governments in Malaysia, and they are:

  • City – called City Hall or City Council (eg. Kuala Lumpur City Hall)
  • Municipality – called Municipal Council (eg. Ampang Jaya Municipal Council)
  • Rural area – called District Council
  • Special and modified local authority – called Corporation, Development Board, Development Authority or simply Pihak Berkuasa Tempatan.

Currently there are a total of 151 local authorities in Malaysia and their breakdown are as follows:

  • 1 City Hall – City Hall of Kuala Lumpur
  • 11 City Councils
  • 36 Municipal Councils
  • 96 District Councils
  • 7 modified local authorities.

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