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Flag of Malaysia Coat of arms of Malaysia
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Bersekutu Bertambah Mutu
(English: Unity Is Strength)
Anthem: " Negaraku"
Location of Malaysia
Capital Kuala Lumpur
2°30′ N 112°30′ E
Largest city Kuala Lumpur
Official language(s) Malay
• Paramount Ruler
• Prime Minister
Federal constitutional monarchy
Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Jamalullail
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

From the UK (Malaya only)
August 31, 1957
With Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore
September 16, 1963
• Total

• Water (%)

329,758 km² ( 64th)
{{{areami²}}} mi²

• 2005 est.
• 2000 census

• Density

23,953,136 ( 46th)

78/km² ( 97th)
• Total
• Per capita
2005 estimate
0 billion ( 33rd)
,153 ( 62nd)
HDI ( 2003) 0.796 ( 61st) – medium
Currency Ringgit (RM) ( MYR)
Time zone
• Summer ( DST)
SST ( UTC+8)
Not observed ( UTC+8)
Internet TLD .my
Calling code +601
1. 020 from Singapore
Malaysia ( Jawi: مليسيا) is a federation of 13 states in Southeast Asia, formed in 1963.The country consists of two geographical regions divided by the South China Sea:
  • West Malaysia (or Peninsular Malaysia) on the Malay Peninsula shares a land border on the north with Thailand and is connected by the Johor Causeway and the Tuas Second Link on the south with Singapore. It consist of the 11 states Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Penang, Selangor and Terengganu, and the two federal territories Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur.
  • East Malaysia occupies the northern part of the island of Borneo, bordering Indonesia and the Sultanate of Brunei. It consists of the federal territory of Labuan and the states of Sabah and Sarawak.

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Natural resources
Transport & Communications

History - Contents

The Malay Peninsula has long benefited from its central position in the maritime trade routes between China and the Middle East. Ptolemy showed it on his early map with a label that translates as "Golden Chersonese", the Straits of Malacca as "Sinus Sabaricus".The earliest recorded Malay kingdoms grew from coastal city-ports established in the 10th century AD. These include Langkasuka and Lembah Bujang in Kedah, as well as Beruas and Gangga Negara in Perak and Pan Pan in Kelantan. It is thought that originally these were Hindu or Buddhist nations. The first evidence of Islam in the Malay peninsula dates from the 14th century in Terengganu.In the early 15th century, the Sultanate of Malacca was established under a dynasty founded by Parameswara, a prince from Palembang, who fled from the island Temasek (now Singapore). Parameswara decided to establish his kingdom in Malacca after witnessing an astonishing incident where a tiny rain deer kicked a dog into the river. With Malacca as its capital, the sultanate controlled the areas which are now Peninsula Malaysia, southern Thailand ( Patani), and the eastern coast of Sumatra. It existed for more than a century, and within that time period Islam spread to most of the Malay archipelago. Malacca was the foremost trading port at the time in Southeast Asia.In 1511, Malacca was conquered by Portugal, who established a colony there. The sons of the last sultan of Malacca established two sultanates elsewhere in the peninsula - the Sultanate of Perak to the north, and the Sultanate of Johor (originally a continuation of the old Malacca sultanate) to the south. After the fall of Malacca, three nations struggled for the control of Malacca Strait: the Portuguese (in Malacca), the Sultanate of Johor, and the Sultanate of Aceh. This conflict went on till 1641, when the Dutch (allied to the Sultanate of Johor) gained control of Malacca.Britain established its first colony in the Malay peninsula in 1786, with the granting of the island of Penang to the British East India Company by the Sultan of Kedah. In 1824, the British took control of Malacca following the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 which divided the Malaya archipelago between Britain and the Netherlands, with Malaya in the British zone. In 1826, Britain established the crown colony of the Straits Settlements, uniting its three possessions in Malaya: Penang, Malacca and Singapore. The Straits Settlements were administered under the East India Company in Calcutta until 1867, when they were transferred to the Colonial Office in London.
Sultan Abdul Samad Building in Kuala Lumpur houses the High Court of Malaya at Kuala Lumpur and the Trade Court. Kuala Lumpur was the capital of the Federated Malay States and is the current Malaysian capital.
Sultan Abdul Samad Building in Kuala Lumpur houses the High Court of Malaya at Kuala Lumpur and the Trade Court. Kuala Lumpur was the capital of the Federated Malay States and is the current Malaysian capital.
During the late 19th century, many Malay states decided to obtain British help in settling their internal conflicts. The commercial importance of tin mining in the Malay states to merchants in the Straits Settlemens led to British government intervention in the tin-producing states in the Malay Peninsula. British gunboat diplomacy was employed to bring about a peaceful resolution to civil disturbances caused by Chinese gangsters, and the Pangkor Treaty of 1874 paved the way for the expansion of British influence in Malaya. By the turn of the 20th century the states of Pahang, Selangor, Perak, and Negeri Sembilan, known together as the Federated Malay States (not to be confused with the Federation of Malaya), were under the de facto control of British Residents appointed to advise the Malay rulers. The British were "advisers" by name but in reality they were the puppet masters behind the Malay rulers who had to abide to their whims and fancies.The remaining five states in the peninsula, known as the Unfederated Malay States, while not directly under rule from London, also accepted British advisors around the turn of the 20th century. Of these, the four northern states of Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu had previously previously under Siamese control.On the island of Borneo, Sabah was governed as the crown colony of British North Borneo, while Sarawak was acquired from Brunei as the personal kingdom of the Brooke family, who ruled as white rajahs.Following the Japanese occupation of Malaya ( 1942- 1945) during World War II, popular support for independence grew. Post-war British plans to unite the administration of Malaya under a single crown colony called the Malayan Union foundered on strong opposition from the Malays, who opposed the emasculation of the Malay rulers and the granting of citizenship to the ethnic Chinese. The Malayan Union, established in 1946 and consisting of all the British possessions in Malaya with the exception of Singapore, was dissolved in 1948 and replaced by the Federation of Malaya, which restored the autonomy of the rulers of the Malay states under British protection.During this time, Chinese rebels under the leadership of the Communist Party of Malaya launched guerrilla operations designed to force the British out of Malaya. The Malayan Emergency, as it was known, lasted from 1948 to 1960, and involved a long anti-insurgency campaign by Commonwealth troops in Malaya. Against this backdrop, independence for the Federation within the Commonwealth was granted on 31 August 1957 (see Hari Merdeka.In 1963 the Federation was expanded with the admission of the then-British crown colonies of Singapore, Sabah (British North Borneo) and Sarawak, and renamed Malaysia. The Sultanate of Brunei, though initially expressing interest in joining the Federation, withdrew from the planned merger due to opposition from certain segments of the population as well as arguments over the payment of oil royalties.The early years of independence were marred by conflict with Indonesia (Konfrantasi) over the formation of Malaysia, Singapore's eventual exit in 1965, and racial strife in the form of racial riots in 1969 (popularly known as the "May 13" riots). The Philippines also made an active claim on Sabah in that period based upon the Sultanate of Brunei's cession of its north-east territories to the Sultanate of Sulu in 1704, which is still ongoing.After the May 13 racial riots of 1969, the controversial New Economic Policy - intended to increase the share of the economic pie owned by the bumiputeras as opposed to other ethnic groups - was launched by Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak. Malaysia has since maintained a delicate ethno-political balance, with a system of government that has attempted to combine overall economic development with political and economic policies that favour Bumiputras, the native population which includes the majority Malays.Between the 1980s and the early 1990s, Malaysia experienced significant economic growth under the premiership of Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad. The period saw a shift from an agriculture-based economy to one based on manufacturing and industry in areas such as computers and consumer electronics. It was during this period, too, that the physical landscape of Malaysia has changed with the emergence of numerous megaprojects. The most notable of these projects are the Petronas Twin Towers (at the time the tallest building in the world), KL International Airport (KLIA), the Sepang F1 Circuit, the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), the Bakun hydroelectric dam and Putrajaya, a new federal administrative capital.In the late 1990s, Malaysia was shaken by the Asian financial crisis as well as political unrest caused by the sacking of the deputy prime minister Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim. In 2003, Dr Mahathir, Malaysia's longest serving prime minister, retired in favour of his deputy, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, commonly known as Pak Lah.

Politics - Contents

The Parliament building
The Parliament building
Malaysia is a constitutional elective monarchy. It is nominally headed by the Paramount Ruler or Yang di-Pertuan Agong, commonly referred to as the King of Malaysia. Yang di-Pertuan Agong are selected for five-year terms from among the nine Sultans of the Malay states; the other four states, which have titular Governors, do not participate in the selection.The system of government in Malaysia is closely modelled on that of Westminster parliamentary system, a legacy of British colonial rule. In practice however, more power is vested in the executive branch of government than in the legislative, and the judiciary has been weakened by sustained attacks by the government during the Mahathir era. Parliamentary elections are held at least once every five years, with the last general election being in March 2004. Since independence in 1957, Malaysia has been governed by a multi-racial coalition known as the Barisan Nasional (formerly the Alliance). Executive power is vested in the cabinet led by the prime minister; the Malaysian constitution stipulates that the prime minister must be a member of the lower house of parliament and a Bumiputera who, in the opinion of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, commands a majority in parliament. The cabinet is chosen from among members of both houses of Parliament and is responsible to that body.The bicameral parliament consists of the upper house, the Senate or Dewan Negara (literally the "Chamber of the Nation") and the lower house, the House of Representatives or Dewan Rakyat (literally the "Chamber of the People"). All 69 Senators sit for 6-year terms; 26 are elected by the 13 state assemblies, and 43 are appointed by the king. The 219 members of the House of Representatives are elected from single-member constituencies by universal adult suffrage, for a maximum term of 5 years. Legislative power is divided between federal and state legislatures.The state governments are led by chief ministers (Menteri Besar or Ketua Menteri, the latter term being used in states without hereditary rulers), selected by the state assemblies (Dewan Undangan Negeri) advising their respective sultans or governors.The national media are largely controlled by the government and by political parties in the Barisan Nasional/National Front ruling coalition, and the opposition has little access to the media. The print media are controlled by the Government through the requirement of obtaining annual publication licences under the Printing and Presses Act.See also: Courts of Malaysia
  • List of Malaysian political parties

States - Contents

Malaysia is divided into two types of political divisions: states (negeri) and Federal Territories (Wilayah Persekutuan) that collectively have the status of a state.Eleven states are situated on Peninsular Malaysia, two on Borneo island. Nine peninsular states are monarchies (hereditary sultanates unless otherwise mentioned): Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Negeri Sembilan (which has an elected hereditary Yang di-Pertuan Besar), Pahang, Perak (like Malaysia itself, a system of revolving monarchy with three royal families), Perlis (the only Raja), Selangor, and Terengganu. Malacca and Penang, both on the peninsula and formerly part of the Straits Settlements under direct British control, as well as Sabah and Sarawak, both on Borneo, each have a federally appointed titular Governor or Yang di-Pertua Negeri.Two federal territories Kuala Lumpur (the legislative capital; often called "KL") and Putrajaya (the new administrative capital) are located on the Malay Peninsula, while the third, Labuan, is an island off the coast of Sabah.

Geography - Contents

Map of Peninsular and East Malaysia
Map of Peninsular and East Malaysia
The two distinct parts of Malaysia, separated from each other by the South China Sea, share a largely similar landscape in that both West and East Malaysia feature coastal plains rising to often densely forested hills and mountains, the highest of which is Mount Kinabalu at 4,095.2 m on the island of Borneo. The local climate is equatorial and characterised by the annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons. Tanjung Piai, located in the southern state of Johor, is the southernmost tip of continental Asia — if Singapore, an island connected to the continent by a man-made causeway, is excluded.The Straits of Malacca, lying between Sumatra and West Malaysia, is arguably the most important shipping lane in the world. Putrajaya is the newly created administrative capital for the federal government of Malaysia, aimed in part to ease growing congestion within Malaysia's capital city, Kuala Lumpur. The prime minister's office moved in 1999 and the move is expected to be completed in 2005. Kuala Lumpur remains the seat of parliament, as well as the commercial and financial capital of the country. Other major cities include George Town, Ipoh, Johor Bahru and Kuching. See also List of cities in Malaysia.

Economy - Contents

Kuala Lumpur's landmark, the Petronas Twin Towers, one of the tallest buildings in the world
Kuala Lumpur's landmark, the Petronas Twin Towers, one of the tallest buildings in the world
The Malay Peninsula and indeed Southeast Asia has been a center of trade for centuries. Various items such as porcelain and spice were actively traded even before Malacca and Singapore rose to prominence.In the 17th century, large deposits of tin were found in several Malay states. Later, as the British started to take over as administrators of Malaya, rubber and palm oil trees were introduced for commercial purposes. Over time, Malaya became the world's largest major producer of tin, rubber and palm oil. These three commodities along with other raw materials firmly set Malaysia's economic tempo well into the mid-20th century.In 1970s, Malaysia imitated the footsteps of the original four Asian Tigers and committed itself to a transition from being reliant on mining and agriculture to an economy that depends more on manufacturing. With Japan's assistance, heavy industries flourished and in a matter of years, Malaysian exports became the country primary growth engine. Malaysia consistently achieved more than 7% GDP growth along with low inflation in the 1980s and the 1990s.During the same period, the government tried to eradicate poverty with a controversial race-conscious program called New Economic Policy (NEP).The rapid economic boom led to a variety of supply problems. Labor shortages became apparent resulting in an influx of millions of foreign workers, not all of whom were legal. Outrageous mega infrastructure projects were proposed to alleviate the bottlenecks faced, mainly by cash rich PLCs and consortiums of banks eager to benefit from increased and rapid development. This all ended when the Asian Financial Crisis hit in 1997, delivering a massive external shock to the financial system.The year 1997 saw a very sudden and disruptive boom to bust transition caused initially by massive speculative short selling of currency, characteristic of the collapse in the region. Foreign direct investment fell at an alarming rate and Ringgit depreciated substantially from MYR 2.50 per USD to much lower levels (up to MYR 4.80 per USD at its bottom intraday) as capital flowed out from Malaysia and the rest of the region. The Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange's composite index fell from approximately 1300 to nearly merely 400 points in a few short weeks. After the sacking of the ex finance minister Anwar Ibrahim, a National Economic Action Council was formed to deal with the monetary crisis. Bank Negara imposed capital controls and pegged the Malaysian Ringgit at 3.80 to a US dollar. Economic aid from International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank was refused, surprising analysts unfamiliar with the nature of the crisis. The financial sector suffered massive retrenchment as the banking sector was forced to consolidate and bank licenses were withdrawn to prevent further reckless lending. Remaining banks were also allowed to recapitalise through Danamodal, while NPLs were discounted and bought off by Danaharta to provide for an orderly asset realization process.In March 2005, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published a paper on the sources and pace of Malaysia's recovery, written by Jomo K.S. of the applied economics department, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. The paper concluded that the controls imposed by Malaysia's government neither hurt nor helped that country's recovery. The chief factor was an increase in electronics components exports, which was caused by a large increase in the demand for components in the United States, which was caused, in turn, by a fear of the effects of the arrival of the year 2000 ( Y2K) upon older computers and other digital devices.However the post Y2K slump of 2001 did not affect Malaysia as much as other countries. This may have been clearer evidence that there are other causes and effects that can be more properly attributable for recovery. One possibility is that the currency speculators had run out of finance after failing in their attack on the Hong Kong dollar in August 1998 and after the Russian Ruble collapsed. (See George Soros)Regardless of cause/effect claims, rejuvenation of the economy also coincided with massive government spending and budget deficits in the years that followed the crisis.(2% to 5% of GDP) Later, the country enjoyed faster economic recovery compared to its neighbors though in many ways, the level of pre-1997 affluence has yet to be achieved. The alternative claim is that pre 1997 affluence was fueled by an asset price bubble.While the pace of development is not as frenetic, it is also seen to be more sustainable. And, although the controls and economic housekeeping may not have been the principal reason for recovery, there is no doubt that the banking sector is more resilient to external shocks. The current account has also settled into a structural surplus providing a cushion to capital flight. Asset prices also are a fraction of their heights pre crisis.The fixed exchange rate regime was abandoned in July 2005 in favor of managed floating system within an hour of China's announcing of the same move. In the same week, Ringgit strengthened a percent against various major currencies and was expected to appreciate further. As of December 2005 however, expectations of further appreciation was muted as capital flight exceeded USD 10 billion.In September 2005, Sir Howard J. Davies, director of the London School of Economics, at a meeting Kuala Lumpur, cautioned Malaysian officials that if they want a flexible capital market, they will have to lift the ban on short selling created in 1997.
  • Islamic banking in Malaysia
  • List of Malaysian companies

Natural resources - Contents

Malaysia is well-endowed with natural resources in areas such as agriculture, forestry as well as minerals. In terms of agriculture, Malaysia is the world's primary exporter of natural rubber and palm oil, which together with sawlogs and sawn timber, cocoa, pepper, pineapple and tobacco dominate the growth of the sector. Palm oil is also a major foreign exchange earner.Regarding forestry resources, it is noted that logging only began to make a substantial contribution to the economy during the nineteenth century. Today an estimated 59 percent of Malaysia remains forested. The rapid expansion of the timber industry, particularly after the 1960s, has brought about a serious erosion problem in the country's forest resources. However, in line with the Government's commitment to protect the environment and the ecological system, forestry resources are being managed on a sustainable basis and accordingly the rate of tree felling has been on the downtrend.In addition, substantial areas are being silviculturally treated and reafforestration of degraded forest land is also being carried out. The Malaysian government provide plans for the enrichment of some 312.30 square kilometres of land with rattan under natural forest conditions and in rubber plantations as an intercrop. To further enrich forest resources, fast-growing timber species such as meranti tembaga, merawan and sesenduk are also being planted. At the same time, the cultivation of high-value trees like teak and other trees for pulp and paper are also encouraged. Rubber, once the mainstay of the Malaysian economy, has been largely replaced by oil palm as Malaysia's leading agricultural export.Tin and petroleum are the two main mineral resources that are of major significance in the Malaysian economy. Malaysia was once the world's largest producer of tin until the collapse of the tin market in the early 1980s. In the 19th and 20th Century, tin played a predominant role in the Malaysian economy. It was only in 1972 that petroleum and natural gas took over from tin as the mainstay of the mining sector. Meanwhile, the contribution by tin has declined. Petroleum and natural gas which were discovered in oilfields offshore from Sabah, Sarawak and Trengganu have contributed much to the Malaysian economy particularly in those three states. Other minerals of some importance or significance include copper, gold, bauxite, iron-ore and coal together with industrial minerals like clay, kaolin, silica, limestone, barite, phosphates and dimension stones such as granite as well as marble blocks and slabs. Small quantities of gold are produced.In 2004, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Mustapa Mohamed, revealed that Malaysia's oil reserves stood at 4.84 billion barrels while natural gas reserves increased to 89 trillion cubic feet (2,500 km³). This was an increase of 7.2 percent.The government predicts that at current production rates Malaysia will be able to produce oil for 18 years and gas for 35 years. In 2004 Malaysia is ranked 24th in terms of world oil reserves and 13th for gas. 56% of the oil reserves exist in the Peninsula while 19% exist in East Malaysia. The government collects oil royalties of which 5% are passed to the states and the rest retained by the federal government.

Transport & Communications - Contents

The Kuala Lumpur Tower enchances communication quality within Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley.
The Kuala Lumpur Tower enchances communication quality within Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley.
Malaysia has extensive railroads that connects all major cities and town on the peninsular and east Malaysia itself. The North-South Expressway basically span from the northern tip of Bukit Kayu Hitam and Johor Baru in the south, which also connects roads into Thailand and Singapore. There are sea ports in Tanjong Kidurong, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Pasir Gudang, Penang, Port Kelang, Sandakan and Tawau. There are also world class airports that provide international and domestic destinations.Roads in the East Malaysia and the eastern coast of West Malaysia are still relatively undeveloped. Those are highly curved roads passing through mountainous regions and many are still unsealed, gravel roads. This has resulted in the continued use of rivers as the main mode of transportation for interior residents.Malaysia is also the home of the first low-cost carrier in the region, Air Asia. It retains Kuala Lumpur as its hub and maintains flights around Southeast Asia and now China as well.The intercity telecommunication service provided on Peninsular Malaysia mainly by using microwave radio relay. International telecommunications are provided through submarine cables and satellite.In December 2004, Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik reported that only 0.85 percent or 218,004 people in Malaysia used broadband services. However these values are based on subscriber number, whilst household percentage can reflect the situation more accurately. This represented an increase from 0.45% in three quarters. He also stated that the government targeted usage of 5% by 2006 and doubling to 10% by 2008. Lim Keng Yaik had urged local telecommunication companies and service provider to open up the last mile and lower prices to benefit the users. One of the largest and most significant telecommunication company of choice in Malaysia is Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM), providing products and services from fixed line, mobile to Internet Service Provider.
  • List of Malaysian television stations
  • List of Malaysian radio stations
  • List of Malaysian newspapers

Healthcare - Contents

Malaysian society places importance on the expansion and development of healthcare, putting 5% of the government social sector development budget into public healthcare - an increase of more than 47% over the previous figure. This has meant an overall increase of more than RM 2 billion. With a rising and aging population, the Government wishes to improve in many areas including the refurbishment of existing hospitals, building and equipping new hospitals, expansion of the number of polyclinics, and improvements in training and expansion of telehealth. Over the last couple of years they have increased their efforts to overhaul the systems and attract more foreign investment.The Malaysian healthcare system requires doctors to perform a compulsory 3 years service with public hospitals to ensure the manpower of these hospitals are maintained. Recently foreign doctors have also been encouraged to take up employment here. There is still, however, a compound shortage of medical workforce, especially that of highly trained specialists resulting in certain medical care and treatment only available in large cities. Recent efforts to bring many facilities to other towns have been hampered by lack of expertise to run the available equipment made ready by investments.There are currently 114 government hospitals and healthcare centers with a total of 28,163 beds. There are also seven special medical institutions (including psychiatric institutions) with a total of 6,292 beds. As for private hospitals, there are 225 of them (including maternity and nursing homes) in Malaysia, and they provide 9,498 beds. The majority are in urban areas and, unlike many of the public hospitals, are equipped with the latest diagnostic and imaging facilities. Private hospitals have not generally been seen as an ideal investment - it has often taken up to 10 years before companies have seen any profits. However, the situation has now changed and companies are now looking into this area again, particularly in view of the increasing interest by foreigners in coming to Malaysia for medical care.
  • List of Malaysian hospitals

Education - Contents

Malaysian children begin schooling from the age of 5 or 6 in kindergarten. Year One begins the year a child turns 7. There is an exam taken when leaving Primary school, called 'Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah', or UPSR (Primary School Assessment Examination) which is taken by all Year Six students before going into secondary schools. The purpose of this examination is to assess the quality of the primary education in Malaysia. An exam called Penilaian Tahap Satu (PTS; First Level Assessment) was used to measure the ability of bright students, and to allow them to move from Year 3 to 5. This exam has since been removed.Secondary education lasts five years. At the end of the third year or Form Three, students must sit for the 'Penilaian Menengah Rendah' (PMR; Lower Secondary Assessment), to guide them on what subjects to take in the next year. The combination of subjects available to Form 4 students vary from one school to another. In the last year (Form 5), students sit for 'Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia', or SPM (Malaysian Certificate of Education; equivalent to the British Ordinary or 'O' levels, now referred to as GCSEs).Some Chinese choose to study in Independent High School, where most subjects are taught in Chinese. Independent high school takes 6 years to complete. Instead of sitting for PMR or SPM, student will sit for UEC in Junior Middle 3 (Form 3) and Senior Middle 3 (Form 6). Some independent high school teach in Malays and Chinese, so that the students can sit for PMR, SPM and UEC.Students wishing to enter university must complete 2 more years of secondary schooling.They must take up either the school based Form Six and sit for Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia', or STPM (Malaysia Higher Certificate of Education; equivalent to the British Advanced or 'A' levels), matriculation (1 year only), or other pre-university courses before they may apply for entry into local universities. Independent High School students can enter some of the universities using their UEC result.Students can opt to go to private colleges after secondary studies. Most colleges have education links with overseas universities especially in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Malaysian students abroad study mostly in the UK, United States, Australia, Singapore, Japan and Canada.Until recently, all subjects except foreign languages (English, Mandarin and Tamil) were taught in Bahasa Melayu (Malay). The result was that while many Malaysian students were proficient with the Malay language, they later struggled with English based tertiary education, especially in overseas universities and colleges.Currently Mathematics and Science are the only subjects other than languages that are taught in English. The reasoning was that students would no longer be hindered by the language barrier during their tertiary education in fields such as medicine and engineering. All other subjects are taught in Bahasa Melayu.In addition to the National Curriculum, Malaysia has many international schools. International schools offer students the opportunity to study the curriculum of another country. These schools mainly cater for the growing expatriate population in the country. International schools include - Australian International School, Malaysia (Australian curriculum), The Alice Smith School (British curriculum), The International School of Kuala Lumpur (International Baccalaureate and American curriculum), The Japanese School of Kuala Lumpur (Japanese curriculum), Lycee Francais de Kuala Lumpur (French curriculum) amongst others.
  • List of Malaysian schools
  • List of Malaysian universities and colleges

Demographics - Contents

Malaysia's population is comprised of many ethnic groups, with the politically dominant Malays making up the majority. By constitutional definition, all Malays are Muslim. About a quarter of the population are Chinese, who have historically played an important role in trade and business. Malaysians of Indian descent comprise about 10% of the population and include Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and Buddhists. About 90% of the Indian community is Tamil but various other groups are represented, including Malayalis, Punjabis and Telugus.Non-Malay indigenous groups make up more than half of the state of Sarawak's population, constitute about 66% of Sabah's population, and also exist in much smaller numbers on the Peninsula, where they are collectively called Orang Asli. The non-Malay indigenous population is divided into dozens of ethnic groups, but they share some general cultural similarities. Other Malaysians also include those of, inter alia, European, Middle Eastern, Cambodian, and Vietnamese descent. Europeans and Eurasians include British who colonized and settled in Malaysia and some Portuguese, and most of the Middle Easterners are Arabs. A small number of Kampucheans and Vietnamese settled in Malaysia as Vietnam War refugees. Population distribution is uneven, with some 20 million residents concentrated on the Malay Peninsula. May 13, 1969 saw an incident of civil unrest which was then thought to be largely due to the socio-economic imbalance of the country along racial lines, though in retrospect it may have been more motivated by political firebrands in both governing and opposition parties, as the violence involved only the areas in and around the capital, with much of the country remaining at peace. This incident led to the adoption of the New Economic Policy as a two-pronged approach to address racial and economic inequality and to eradicate poverty in the country.Due to the rise in labour intensive industries, Malaysia has 10 to 20 percent foreign workers with the uncertainty due in part to the large number of illegal workers; there are a million legal foreign workers and perhaps another million unauthorized foreigners. The state of Sabah alone has nearly 20% of its 2.5 million population listed as illegal foreign workers in the last census. Unauthorized foreigners are subject to RM10,000 fines and two-year prison terms, while Malaysian employers face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to RM50,000 for each illegal worker hired, with those hiring more than five also liable to caning. Caning is a standard punishment for more than 40 crimes in Malaysia, ranging from sexual abuse to drug use. Administered with a thick rattan stick, it splits the skin and leaves scars.Some 380,000 unauthorized foreigners left during an "amnesty" that began in Fall 2004 and was extended several times. During amnesties, unauthorized foreigners can leave without paying fines for being illegally in the country. On March 1, 2005, some 300,000 policemen as well as the 560,000-strong Peoples Volunteer Corp began searching for the remaining unauthorized foreigners under Operation Tegas; the volunteers receive RM100 for each foreigner arrested. Source: Migration News, April 2005 Volume 12 Number 2
  • List of Malaysian people

Religion - Contents

Masjid Jamek is one of the most recognizable mosques in Malaysia.
Masjid Jamek is one of the most recognizable mosques in Malaysia.
Malaysia is a multi-religious society, but Islam is the official religion of the country. The four main religions are Islam (60.4% of the population according to government census figures in 2000), Buddhism (19.2%), Hinduism (6.3%), and Christianity (9.1%, mostly in East Malaysia, i.e. Borneo). Until the 20th century, most practiced traditional beliefs, which arguably still linger on to a greater degree than Malaysian officialdom is prepared to acknowledge.Although the Malaysian constitution theoretically guarantees religious freedom, in practice the situation is not so simple (See Status of religious freedom in Malaysia). Non-Muslims often experience restrictions in activities such as construction of religious buildings. Meanwhile Muslims are obliged to follow the decisions of sharia courts. Whether Muslims may freely leave Islam is not yet legally clear. In some situations, the Malaysian courts have denied one's right to freedom of religion even when one has renounced Islam (such as the Yeshua Jalilludin versus the Minister of Home Affairs case in the 1980's). Generally one who wishes to leave Islam makes a legal declaration, but this is still not recognised by the Malaysian civil courts. One is said to have to obtain a declaration of apostasy with a Syariah Court, but the court will not generally grant one.Malaysians tend to personally respect one another's religious beliefs, with inter-religious problems arising mainly from the political sphere.
  • Islam in Malaysia
  • Christianity in Malaysia
  • Buddhism in Malaysia
  • Hinduism in Malaysia
  • Status of religious freedom in Malaysia

Culture - Contents

Malaysia is a multi-ethnic society, consisting of 65% Malays and other indigenous tribes, 25% Chinese, 7% Indians. The Malays, which form the largest community, are all Muslims since one has to be Muslim to be legally Malay under Malaysian law. The Malays play a dominant role politically and are included in a grouping identified as bumiputera. Their native language is Malay ( Bahasa Melayu). Bahasa Malaysia which is largely similar to Bahasa Melayu in most practical terms is the national language of the country.In the past, Bahasa Melayu was written widely in Jawi, a script based on Arabic. Over time, romanized script overtook Jawi as the dominant script. This was largely due to the influence of the colonial education system which taught children in romanized writing rather than in Arabic script.The largest indigenous tribe in terms of numbers is the Iban of Sarawak, who number over 600,000. The Iban who still live in traditional jungle villages live in longhouses along the Rajang and Lupar rivers and their tributaries. The Bidayuh (170,000) are concentrated in the south-western part of Sarawak. The largest indigenous tribe in Sabah is the Kadazan. They are largely Christian subsistence farmers. The Orang Asli (140,000), or aboriginal peoples, comprise a number of different ethnic communities living in Peninsular Malaysia. Traditionally nomadic hunter-gatherers and agriculturists, many have been sedentarised and partially absorbed into modern Malaysia. However, they remain the poorest group in the country.The Chinese comprise of about a quarter of the population. They are mostly Buddhists (of Mahayana sect), Taoists or Christian, and speak a variety of Chinese dialects including Hokkien/ Fujian, Cantonese, Hakka and Teochew, and have been historically dominant in the business community.The Indians account for about 7% of the population. They are mainly Hindu Tamils from southern India, speaking Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Hindi, living mainly in the larger towns on the west coast of the peninsula.There is also a sizeable Sikh community. Eurasians, Cambodians, Vietnamese, and indigenous tribes make up the remaining population. A small number of Eurasians, of mixed Portuguese and Malay descent, speak a Portuguese-based creole, called Papiá Kristang. There are also Eurasians of mixed Malay and Spanish descent, mostly in Sabah. Descended from immigrants from the Philippines, some speak Chavacano, the only Spanish-based creole language in Asia. Cambodians and Vietnamese are mostly Buddhists (Cambodians of Theravada sect and Vietnamese, Mahayana sect).Malaysian traditional music is heavily influenced by Chinese and Islamic forms. The music is based largely around the gendang (drum), but includes other percussion instruments (some made of shells); the rebab, a bowed string instrument; the serunai, a double-reed oboe-like instrument; flutes, and trumpets. The country has a strong tradition of dance and dance dramas, some of Thai, Indian and Portuguese origin. Other artistic forms include wayang kulit (shadow puppet theatre), silat (a stylised martial art) and crafts such as batik, weaving, and silver and brasswork.

Citizenship - Contents

All Malaysians are Federal citizens with no formal citizenships within the individual states. Every citizen is issued with an identity card, known as MyKad, at the age of 12, and must carry the card with them. A citizen is required to present his/her identity card to the police, or in the case of an emergency, to any military personnel, to be identified. If the card cannot be produced immediately, the person technically has 24 hours under the law to produce it at the nearest police station.
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