Beyond Local Government: Making Kuala Lumpur A State


Coming this 1 February, Kuala Lumpur will celebrate 41 years of becoming a “federal territory”. While some revere the move as an elevation of status, being a federal territory also means Kuala Lumpur residents lost their right to elect a second-tier representative government. They can only cast one vote to elect Members of Parliament who represent them in the Dewan Rakyat unlike the federal-state electoral arrangement in the other thirteen states in Malaysia.


While Kuala Lumpur has a City Hall, residents and taxpayers do not get to vote for its Mayor. Instead the Datuk Bandar (Lord Mayor) of Kuala Lumpur is a federally-appointed official. This is ironical, considering one of the earliest elections in the history of our country is the Kuala Lumpur municipal election in 1952.


In 2001, Kuala Lumpur as the capital of Malaysia also lost its administrative and judiciary functions when the government moved its office as well as the apex court to Putrajaya. For some reason, only the legislative function of the federal capital was retained with the Parliament still located within Kuala Lumpur.


Thus, being denied second- and third-tier representative governments and removed of its core functions as the federal capital, over the years, the Federal Territory Day for Kuala Lumpur is often no more than an official celebration and just another public holiday.


This year, we aim to offer alternative reflections on what it means to remake Kuala Lumpur the federal territory into Kuala Lumpur the 14th state of Malaysia.


On 1 February, REFSA (Research for Social Advancement), a public policy think tank, will be hosting a forum entitled, “Beyond Local Government: Making Kuala Lumpur A State”.


The forum will open with a keynote by Tan Kok Wai, a fifth term Kuala Lumpur MP and features a distinguished panel of speakers, namely, Liew Chin Tong, Nurul Izzah Anwar, Dr Wong Chin Huat and Ishak Surin in a conversation about the potential role of Kuala Lumpur as a state. The discussion will be moderated by Steven Sim, the Executive Director of REFSA.


Such remaking of Kuala Lumpur is not unimaginable given that city’s annual budget and its population are bigger than most other states in Malaysia. Can we then re-imagine Kuala Lumpur as a state, with the concomitant structures to enable it to function as such? What are the pros and cons of such an arrangement?


Come and join the discussion as we explore and re-imagine the status of Kuala Lumpur as a potential state of Malaysia.


The forum is free and open to all. Details are, as follows:


Date: 1 Feb 2015 (Sunday)

Time: 2.00pm -5.00pm

Venue: Mandarin Court Hotel, Jalan Maharajalela, KL

Language: English


For more information, please visit


Wong Shu Qi
Deputy Executive Director

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