The title Official Opposition, used in most of the other member nations of the Commonwealth to designate the political party securing the largest number of seats in the Lower House of parliament (Dewan Rakyat), and which is not in government, is rarely used in Malaysia. It is the common practice to refer to the Opposition simply as The Opposition, or by the party name.
Theoretically, according to the system of Westminster Democracy upon which the Malaysian system is loosely based, The Opposition is seen as the alternative government and prepared to assume office should the incumbent government be defeated at a general election. Due to the domination of the Barisan Nasional (and its predecessor, the Alliance) coalition of the parliament since independence, this perception is generally not acknowledged and recognized by Malaysians, though the recent elections in 2008 have caused Anwar Ibrahim to declare the Opposition the "government in waiting".
Following the resignation of Wan Azizah Wan Ismail of the People's Justice Party (PKR) on July 31, 2008, and Anwar Ibrahim's victory in Permatang Pauh on August 26, 2008, Anwar is declared the Leader of the Opposition. Together with Democratic Action Party (DAP), the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), they form Pakatan Rakyat.
The position of the Leader of the Opposition had generally been given to members of PAS or the DAP, but has on two occasions included the Sarawak National Party (SNAP) in a joint leadership with the DAP and, more recently, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). The list of Leaders of the Opposition include: