Of the 11 Peninsular Malaysian states, nine are headed by sultans, who act as titular rulers and as leaders of the Islamic faith in their respective states. The other two Peninsular states, Pinang and Melaka, are headed by federally appointed governors. State governments are parliamentary in form and share legislative powers with the federal parliament. Effective executive authority in each state is vested in a chief minister, selected by the majority party in the state legislature. The legislative assembly, composed of elected members, legislates in conformity with Malaysian and state constitutions, subject to the sultan's assent. In Peninsular Malaysia the states are divided into districts, each of which consists of 5 to 10 subdistricts, called mukims ( derah in Kelantan). Each mukim is responsible for varying numbers of kampongs (villages or compounds). The mukim may include villages or consist of large, sparsely populated tracts of land. Each one is headed by a penghulu ( penggawa in Kelantan), a part-time official locally elected for five years, who serves as the principal liaison between the district and the village. The village elects a chief ( ketua ).
Upon incorporation into the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, both Sabah and Sarawak adopted separate constitutions for their local self-government; each is headed by a chief minister, appointed by the majority party of the elective legislature. In Sarawak, divisions and districts are the main subdivisions; in Sabah their counterparts are residencies and districts. The district officer is the most important link between the governing and the governed. His responsibilities are administrative, fiscal and judicial. Kuala Lumpur, the national capital and former capital of Selangor State, was constituted as a separate federal territory, under the national government, on 1 February 1974. The mayor is appointed by the paramount ruler on the advice of the prime minister.