Malaysia Uncut

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Malaysia : Country profile

Country profile: Malaysia

Map of Malaysia

Malaysia boasts one of south-east Asia’s most vibrant economies, the fruit of decades of industrial growth and political stability. Its multi-ethnic, multi-religious society encompasses a majority Muslim population in most of its states and an economically-powerful Chinese community.


Consisting of two regions separated by some 640 miles of the South China Sea, Malaysia is a federation of 13 states and three federal territories. It is one of the region’s key tourist destinations, offering excellent beaches and brilliant scenery. Dense rainforests in the eastern states of Sarawak and Sabah, on the island of Borneo, are a refuge for wildlife and tribal traditions.

Downtown area and Petronas towers, Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia made the transformation from a farm-based economy

Ethnic Malays comprise some 60% of the population. Chinese constitute around 26%; Indians and indigenous peoples make up the rest. The communities coexist in relative harmony, although there is little racial interaction.

Although since 1971 Malays have benefited from positive discrimination in business, education and the civil service, ethnic Chinese continue to hold economic power and are the wealthiest community. The Malays remain the dominant group in politics while the Indians are among the poorest.

Malaysia’s economic prospects remain healthy, although it faces fierce competition from its neighbours, and from China and India. Free trade talks with the US are under way.

The country is among the world’s biggest producers of computer disk drives, palm oil, rubber and timber. It has a state-owned car maker, Proton, and tourism has considerable room for expansion.

But it also faces serious challenges – politically, in the form of sustaining stability in the face of religious differences and the ethnic wealth gap, and, environmentally, in preserving its valuable forests.

Malaysia’s human rights record has come in for international criticism. Internal security laws allow suspects to be detained without charge or trial.


  • Population: 25.3 million (UN, 2005)
  • Capital: Kuala Lumpur
  • Area: 329,847 sq km (127,355 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Malay (official), English, Chinese dialects, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam
  • Major religions: Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism
  • Life expectancy: 71 years (men), 75 years (women)
  • Monetary unit: 1 ringgit = 100 sen
  • Main exports: Electronic equipment, petroleum and liquefied natural gas, chemicals, palm oil, wood and wood products, rubber, textiles
  • GNI per capita: US $4,960 (World Bank, 2006)
  • Internet domain: .my
  • International dialling code: +60


Head of state: Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin

Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail was installed as Malaysia’s 12th king during a glittering ceremony in 2002.

Malaysian king

King Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin

He is the traditional ruler of Malaysia’s smallest state, Perlis, a rural province in the far north bordering on Thailand. He is a former student at Sandhurst military academy in Britain and a keen supporter of Tottenham Hotspur football club.

The king’s role is largely ceremonial, although he is nominal head of the armed forces and all laws and the appointment of every cabinet minister require his assent.

Under Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy, the position of king is rotated every five years.

Malaysia’s first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, himself a prince, devised the system after independence in 1957 to spread power among the sultans and rajas who had ruled over fiefdoms on the Malay peninsula for hundreds of years.

Prime minister: Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

Mr Abdullah began a new, five-year term in March 2004 after his coalition government won a landslide victory in parliamentary and regional elections.

Correspondents said the victory boosted his chances of pushing through reforms, including a promise to stamp out corruption. But his critics say the pace of change has been slow.

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi promised reforms

In 2006 his government unveiled a multi-billion-dollar plan intended to tackle rural poverty and promote growth. Its goal is to help Malaysia achieve developed nation status by 2020.

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi succeeded Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister in October 2003, when Asia’s longest-serving elected leader retired after 22 years in power.

He is a former deputy premier who held defence, foreign affairs and education portfolios under Dr Mahathir.

On taking office he faced a strong political challenge from opposition Islamic fundamentalists and inherited the task of overseeing one of the region’s most vibrant economies.

In contrast to his predecessor, Mr Abdullah has been described as self-effacing. He has been called the “Mr Nice Guy” of Malaysian politics.

Mr Abdullah was born in 1939 in Penang. His father was a founding member of Umno, Malaysia’s ruling party. After gaining a degree in Islamic studies he worked in the civil service before being elected to parliament in 1978.

Malaysia has been ruled by a coalition, the National Front, since independence. The United Malays National Organisation (Umno) is the biggest grouping in the alliance, which includes Chinese and Indian parties.

  • Deputy prime minister, defence minister: Najib Razak
  • Finance minister: Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
  • Foreign minister: Syed Hamid Albar


    Malaysia has some of the toughest censorship laws in the world. The authorities exert substantial control over the media and restrictions may be imposed in the name of national security.

    The government is keen to insulate the largely-Muslim population from what it considers harmful foreign influences on TV. News is subject to censorship, entertainment shows and music videos regularly fall foul of the censors, and scenes featuring swearing and kissing are routinely removed from TV programmes and films.

    The TV sector comprises commercial networks and pay-TV operations. Around a quarter of TV households subscribe to the Astro multichannel service. Two more pay-TV operators, MiTV and Fine TV, entered the market in 2005. TV3 is a leading national private, terrestrial broadcaster.

    State-owned Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) operates two TV networks and many of the country’s radio services. Private stations are on the air, broadcasting in Malay, Tamil, Chinese and English.

    Newspapers must renew their publication licences annually, and the home minister can suspend or revoke publishing permits.

    Some web sites, such as Laman Reformasi, close to former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, freeMalaysia and Malaysiakini, have attracted official criticism.

    The press

  • New Straits Times – English-language daily
  • The Star – English-language daily
  • Business Times – English-language daily
  • The Malay Mail – English-language daily
  • Malaysiakini – English-language, online news serviceTelevision
  • Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) – state-run, operates TV1 and TV2 networks
  • TV3 – commercial network
  • ntv7 – commercial network
  • 8TV – commercial networkRadio
  • Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) – state-run, operates some 30 radio stations across the country and external service Voice of Malaysia
  • Time Highway Radio – private Kuala Lumpur FM station
  • Era FM – private FM stationNews agency
  • Bernama – state-run
  • Source:

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    Thursday, August 17, 2006 - Posted by | General Info

    1 Comment »

    1. Radio Television Malaysia, TV 3, NTV 7, Channel 8, Channel 9 and other stations should see to the kind of people who appear in front of the screen. Imagine calling Abdul Razak Baginda, a man with evilness in him to chair a programme ? No doubt during those times, who would know that professionals could be so wicked ? Then those with such low sexual morality also allowed to appear. Not only learning good Bahasa Malaysia is a must but also learning how to be good human beings. What’s so good about having unhealthy love, sex affairs ? No wonder everybody wants an astro. It is enough that RTM is such a boring station. Now with all these stupid nonsence going on, don’t know what sort of stupid nonsence will people turn into.

      Comment by No choice | Wednesday, November 15, 2006 | Reply

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