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Historically, none of the states forming the Federation of Malaysia had parliaments before independence, save for Sarawak which have its own Council Negri which enabled local participation and representation in administrative work since 1863. Although the British colonial government had permitted the forming of legislative councils for Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak, these were not the supreme makers of law, and remained subordinate to the British High Commissioner or the Rajah, in case of Sarawak.
The Reid Commission, which drafted the Constitution of Malaya — Malaya gained independence in 1957, ahead of the other states that would later form Malaysia – modelled the Malayan system of government after the British system: a bicameral parliament, with one house being directly elected, and the other having limited powers with some members being appointed by the King, as is the case with the British House of Commons and House of Lords. In line with the federal nature of the new country, the upper house would also have members elected by state legislative assemblies in addition to members appointed by the King.
The Constitution provided for the pre-independence Federal Legislative Council to continue to sit as the legislative body of the new country until 1959, when the first post-independence general election were held and the first Parliament of Malaya were elected.
Parliament first sat at the former headquarters building of the Federated Malay States Volunteer Force on a hill near Jalan Tun Ismail (Maxwell Road). The Dewan Negara met in a hall on the ground floor while the Dewan Rakyat met in the hall on the first floor. With the completion of Parliament House in 1962, comprising a three-storey main building for the two houses of Parliament to meet, and an 18-storey tower for the offices of Ministers and members of Parliament, both houses moved there.