From Academic Kids

The Federation of Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia. It consists of two geographical regions divided by the South China Sea:

ڤرسكوتوان مليسيا
Persekutuan Malaysia
Missing image
Coat of Arms of Malaysia

(Flag) (Coat of Arms)
National motto: Bersekutu Bertambah Mutu
(Malay: Unity Is Strength)
Official language Malay
Capital Kuala Lumpur1
Paramount Ruler Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 64th
329,750 km²
 - Total
 - Density
Ranked 46th
25,720,000 (Q3-2004)
 - Date
From the UK
August 31, 1957
 - Total (2003)
 - GDP/capita
Ranked 33rd
$271.2 billion
Currency Ringgit
Time zone UTC +8
National anthem Negaraku
National flower Bunga Raya: Hibiscus, Rosa sinensis
Internet TLD .my
Calling Code 60 2
1. The federal administration has moved to newly-built Putrajaya
2. 020 from Singapore
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


Main article: History of Malaysia

The Malay Peninsula developed as a major Southeast Asian commercial centre related to China. 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. Islam arrived in the 14th century in Terengganu.

In the early part of the 15th century, the Sultanate of Malacca was established under a dynasty which was started by a prince (Parameswara) from Palembang who fled from the island Temasek (now known as Singapore). 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 spread Islam to most of the Malay archipelago. Malacca was an important trading port.

Portugal made Malacca a colony in 1511 by military conquest, thus ending the Sultanate of Malacca. The first ever Malacca sultan was Parameswara. However, the last Sultan fled to Kampar in Sumatra and died there. One of his sons went to northern peninsular Malaysia and established the Sultanate of Perak, and another son went to the south of the peninsula and made his capital there. This new kingdom was the continuation of the old Malacca sultanate but now known as the Sultanate of Johor, which still exists now. After the fall of Malacca, three nations struggled for the control of the Malacca Strait: the Portuguese (in Malacca), the Sultanate of Johor, and the Sultanate of Aceh; and the attacks only stopped in 1641, when the Dutch (allied to the Sultanate of Johor) gained control of Malacca. The British took control of Malacca after the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824.

The British crown colony of the Straits Settlements was established in 1826, and Britain gradually increased its control over the rest of the peninsula. The Straits Settlements consisted of the three ports of Singapore, Penang, and Malacca. Penang was established in 1786 by Captain Francis Light as a commercial outpost granted by the Sultan of Kedah. Malacca came into British hands after the Anglo-Dutch Treaty; and two years later the Straits Settlements were formed. These settlements were collectively ruled from the British East India Company seat of government in Calcutta until 1867 when their administration was transferred to the Colonial Office in London.

It was also about this time that many Malay states decided to obtain British help in settling internal conflicts. Less than ten years after the transfer movement was completed, several west coast Malay States came under British influence. The role of the merchants of the Straits Settlements saw British government intervention in the affairs of the tin producing states in the Malay Peninsula. Coupled with Chinese Secret Society disturbances and civil war, British gunboat diplomacy was employed to bring about a peaceful resolution that favoured the merchants of the Straits Settlements. Finally, the Pangkor Treaty of 1874 paved the way for British expansion; and 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 rule of British residents appointed to advise the rulers/Sultans.

The other Peninsular states were known as the Unfederated Malay States and, while not directly under rule from London, had British advisors in the Sultans' courts. The four northern states of Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu were previously under Thai control. British North Borneo (currently the state of Sabah) was a British Crown Colony formerly under the rule of the Sultanate of Sulu, whilst the huge jungle territory of Sarawak was the personal fiefdom of the Brooke family.

Following the Japanese occupation during World War II, popular support for independence grew, coupled with a communist insurgency. Post-war British plans to form a "Malayan Union" were scuppered by strong Malay opposition who wanted a more pro-Malay system, and demanding only single citizenship as opposed to the dual-citizenship option which would have allowed the significant immigrant communities to have claimed citizenship in both Malaya and their country of origin. Independence was achieved for the peninsula in August 31, 1957 under the name of the Federation of Malaya. Singapore's request to be part of this independent state was rejected by London at the time.

A new federation under the name of Malaysia was formed on September 16, 1963 through a merging of the Federation of Malaya and the British crown colonies of Singapore, North Borneo (renamed Sabah), and Sarawak, the latter two colonies being on the island of Borneo. The Sultanate of Brunei, though initially expressing interest in joining the Federation, pulled out due to opposition from certain segments of the population as well as wrangling over the payment of oil royalties.

The early years of independence were marred conflict with Indonesia over the formation of Malaysia, Singapore's eventual secession in 1965, and racial strife in the form of racial riots in 1969. 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. The Philippine claim is still on-going.

After the racial riots of 1969, the controversial New Economic Policy - intended to increase the share of the economic pie owned by locals as opposed to other ethnic groups - was launched by Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak. Malaysia has since maintained a delicate ethno-political balance, and developed a unique rule combining economic growth and a political rule that favours bumiputras (a group including ethnic Malayans) and moderate Islam.

Between the 1980s and the early 1990s, Malaysia experienced significant economic growth under Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, the 4th prime minister of Malaysia. 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.

In the late 1990s, Malaysia was shaken by the Asian financial crisis. Opposition to certain aspects of the existing system was put down by the government. The opposition runs the gamut from socialist and reformists to the party advocating the creation of an Islamic state.

In 2003, Dr. Mahathir, Malaysia's longest serving prime minister, retired in favour of his deputy, Abdullah Badawi. The new government advocated a moderate view of an Islamic state defined by the term Islam Hadhari.


Main article: Politics of Malaysia

The federation of 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. Kings 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.

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The system of government in Malaysia is closely modelled on that of Westminster, a legacy of British colonial rule. In practice however, more power is vested in the executive branch of government than the in the legislative. The general election must be held at least once every five years. The last general election was in march 2004 and the previous one was in 1999. The ruling party coalition is 'Barisan Nasional'.

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 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 (Dewan Negara, literally "National Hall") and the lower house (Dewan Rakyat, literally "People's Hall"). 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 districts 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) selected by the state assemblies (Dewan Undangan Negeri) advising their respective sultans or governors.

See also: Courts of Malaysia

Migration Policy

" 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. Unauthorized foreigners are subject to RM10,000 ($2,600) 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 April 2005 Volume 12 ( Number 2


Main article: States of Malaysia

Malaysia is divided into two political divisions: states (negeri) and federal territories (wilayah persekutuan) that collectively has the status of a state.

Eleven states and two federal territories are in Peninsular Malaysia. Two states and one federal territory are in East Malaysia.

The states are: Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Pulau Pinang, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor, and Terengganu.

The federal territories are: Kuala Lumpur (the capital city; generally abbreviated to KL in speech by most Malaysians), Putrajaya (the administrative capital) and Labuan (off the coast of Sabah).


Main article: Geography of Malaysia

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 4,101 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 and Johor Bahru. See also List of cities in Malaysia.


Main article: Economy of Malaysia

Malaysia, an upper-middle income country, transformed itself from 1971 through the late 1990s from a producer of raw materials into an emerging multi-sector economy via the controversial New Economic Policy (NEP). Growth is almost exclusively driven by exports - particularly of electronics - and, as a result, Malaysia was hard hit by the global economic downturn and the slump in the information technology (IT) sector in 2001. GDP in 2001 grew only 0.3% due to an estimated 11% contraction in exports, but a substantial fiscal stimulus package has mitigated the worst of the recession. In 2002, the economy recovered from the downturn in the previous years, by expanding 4.1%. In 2003 it further accelerated with a growth of 5.3% and in 2004 Malaysia's economy grew at 7%(est). Exports will increase by 21% to 127.0 Mio. US-$, Imports by 27% to 106.2 Mio. US-$.

Kuala Lumpur's stable macroeconomic environment, in which both inflation and unemployment stand at 3% or less, coupled with its healthy foreign exchange reserves (70 billion, 2005 est) and relatively small external debt(50 billion, 2004 est), make it unlikely that Malaysia will experience a crisis similar to the Asian financial crisis of 1997, but its long-term prospects are somewhat clouded by the lack of reforms in the corporate sector, particularly those dealing with competitiveness and high corporate debt.

The major stock exchanges are Bursa Malaysia and MESDAQ.


Malaysia has extensive railroads that connects all major cities and town on the peninsular and east Malaysia itself. The North-South Highway 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.

The intercity telecommunication service provided on Peninsular Malaysia mainly by using microwave radio relay. International telecommunications are provided through submarine cables and satelite.

In December 2004, Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik reported that only 0.85 per cent or 218,004 people in Malaysia used broadband services. 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 also lowering the prices to benefit the users.

Natural resources

Malaysia was once the world's largest producer of tin until the collapse of the tin market in the early 1980s. Rubber, once the mainstay of the Malaysian economy, has been largely replaced by oil palm as Malaysia's leading agricultural export. Small quantities of gold are produced.

Oil and gas

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.


Main article: Demographics of Malaysia

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 7% of the population and include Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and Buddhists. About 85% of the Indian community is Tamil but various other groups are represented, including Malayalis, Punjab and Telugu.

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. Until the 20th century, most practiced traditional beliefs, but many have converted to Islam or Christianity. 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. 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.


Main article: Education in Malaysia

Malaysian children begin schooling from the age of 4 to 5 in kindergarten. Primary one begins at the age of 7. There is a primary education leaving exam where all primary Six students take to qualify for entry into secondary schools. Secondary education normally lasts five years. Students wishing to enter university have to complete 2 more years of secondary schooling before they may apply for entry into local universities. 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 and Canada.


Main article: Culture of Malaysia

Malaysia is a multiracial society, consisting of 65% Malays, 20% Chinese, 10% Indians and 5% of other races. The Malays, which form the largest community, are mainly Muslims. The Malays play a dominant role politically and are known as bumiputera. Their native language is Malay (Bahasa Melayu), which is also the national language of 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/Fukien, Cantonese, Hakka and Teochew , and have been historically dominant in the business community. The Indians account for about 10% 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 creole, called Papia 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 creole in Asia. Cambodians and Vietnamese are mostly Buddhists (Cambodians of Theravada sect and Vietnamese, Mahayana sect).

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 live 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. Malaysian traditional music is heavily influenced by Chinese and Islamic forms. The music is based largely around the gendang (drum), but includes 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-puppets), silat (a stylised martial art) and crafts such as batik, weaving, and silver and brasswork.

Miscellaneous topics

External links

Countries in Southeast Asia

Brunei | Cambodia | East Timor | Indonesia | Laos | Malaysia | Myanmar | Philippines | Singapore | Thailand | Vietnam


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