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    At A Glance

    With a buoyant economy boosted by a government keen to diversify, Malaysia is experiencing rapid growth, says Penelope Rance
    Towering above: Malaysia’s economy is booming thanks to a savvy government.

    A focus on diversifying from an over-reliance on exporting raw materials, including timber, petroleum, rubber, iron ore and natural gas, towards the development of tourism, manufacturing and the service industry during the 1980s and 1990s has resulted in a buoyant economy.


    Formerly made up of a series of British protectorates and colonies, the Federation of Malaya was formed in 1948, becoming independent in 1957. Malaysia, including Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak, was created in 1963, although Singapore left in 1965. Largely based on the Malay peninsular, the country includes one third of the island of Borneo, and has borders with Thailand, Indonesia and Brunei. A tropical climate leaves it prone to monsoons, leading to flooding and landslides.

    All the people

    The Malay ethnic group makes up only half of the population. The country has one of the largest Chinese communities in the world at 24% of the population, making up a disproportionate percentage of the educated and business classes. Of the remaining people, 11% are indigenous, 7% Indian and 8% other ethnicities. The official language is Bahasa Malaysia but English, Tamil, Punjabi and Thai are also spoken widely, along with Cantonese, Mandarin and other Chinese dialects.

    Money Makers

    Building on the solid foundations of a service industry created over the past 30 years, prime minister Mohamed Najib bin Abdul Razak is attempting to bring the country to high-income status by 2020. The focus is shifting from manufacturing to finance and high technology. There’s an emphasis on reducing the economy’s reliance on exports – which exposes the country to fallout from the global downturn – as well as the government’s own dependence on state oil producer Petronas.

    Fiver-year King

    A constitutional monarchy, the country’s figurehead is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, known as the king. Elected rather than hereditary, one of the nine sultans of the peninsular Malaysian states holds the post for five years. The current incumbent, also leader of the country’s Islamic religion, is Sultan Abdul Halim of Kedah. The country is run by a two-house government led by the prime minister, with a legal system based on UK common law. The PM is a member of the lower house who commands a majority.

    Foreign Affairs

    Malaysia is a founding member of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), an active part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and has a stable government and economy. As such it plays a central role in regional diplomacy and south-east Asian economic growth. A committed member of the UN, the nation’s peacekeeping troops have been deployed to Lebanon, Kosovo, Timor-Leste, Indonesia and Pakistan, among other trouble spots.


    ICAEW works with Malaysian universities and employers to offer the ACA qualification. There are over 500 ICAEW students taking the ACA and CFAB in Malaysia today. ICAEW also works with TalentCorp Malaysia to help employers connect with pre- and post-ACA-qualified candidates and address the endemic brain drain. Knowledge-sharing events, awareness-raising and policy discussions are part of an ongoing programme to support both ICAEW members and the accountancy profession in the country.

    Vital statistics

    • Population: 29,179,952 (July 2012 est)
    • Capital: Kuala Lumpur
    • Full Name: Malaysia
    • Economic strength
    • GDP PER CAPITA: $15,600 (2011 est)
    • EXPORTS: $212.7bn (2011 est)
    • IMPORTS: $168bn (2011 est)

    Malaysia Banner | Reed Magazine Sri Lanka

    Petronas Twin Towers

    Soaring to a height of 451.9 metres, the 88-storey twin structure is Kuala Lumpur’s crown jewel. Majestic by day and dazzling at night, the PETRONAS Twin Towers is inspired by Tun Mahathir Mohamad’s vision for Malaysia to be a global player. Together with master architect Cesar Pelli, the international icon powerfully captures the nation’s ambitions and aspirations.

    Visit us and experience the PETRONAS Twin Towers first-hand. Begin your tour with interactive displays that showcase the journey, from idea to completion. Scale 170 metres in an elevator with a futuristic edge. The doors will open at the Skybridge, a connecting structure between the towers and the world’s highest 2-storey bridge. Ascend even higher to level 86, where the story of Malaysia’s vision unfolds amid breathtaking views of Kuala Lumpur. Then wrap up your visit with exquisite souvenirs at the gift shop.

    Visit us and experience the PETRONAS Twin Towers first-hand. Begin your tour with interactive displays that showcase the journey, from idea to completion. Scale 170 metres in an elevator with a futuristic edge. The doors will open at the Skybridge, a connecting structure between the towers and the world’s highest 2-storey bridge. Ascend even higher to level 86, where the story of Malaysia’s vision unfolds amid breathtaking views of Kuala Lumpur. Then wrap up your visit with exquisite souvenirs at the gift shop.


    Featured as the world’s fourth best shopping city in CNNGo, Kuala Lumpur is indeed a shopper’s paradise. Case in point: Three of the world’s 10 largest malls are in KL, while year-round sales offer the best bang for your buck.

    The BBKLCC stretch from Bukit Bintang to Kuala Lumpur City Centre, in particular, will leave you spoilt for choice with its abundant fashion, food and entertainment options. Lose yourself in the huge selection of local and international brands available across nine signature malls within the area. The shopping district is also well-connected via a covered pedestrian walkway and an efficient network of public transportation.

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    Brief History

    History of Malaysia

    Malaysia grew to prominence in Southeast Asia due to its strategic position for trade and commerce during the end of the 16th century. The political and socio-economic landscape since its independence has helped propel the nation to achieve a dynamic economy. Malaysia has a rich legacy of history, from the early days of Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic civilisations to colonial imperialism and independence.

    The Early Civilisations

    Malaysia’s warm climate and wealth of natural resources have attracted the indigenous tribes or better known as Orang Asli around 3,000 BC. They probably set foot from Tibet and China to the south. However, it was the Malay Sultanate Kingdom in Melaka during the 15th Century that made the nation a trading and commercial hub that attracted people from the world over. This was also the time when Islamic influence became stronger and the Sultans and the Malays started to embrace Islam as their religion.

    Colonial Imperialism

    The popularity of Melaka has attracted the Europeans, particularly the Portuguese. They captured Melaka in 1511 but soon, in 1641, the Dutch took over the reign. The disposed Malay rulers fled to the south and they established a new Sultanate. The British which established its own footing in Singapore, Penang, Kuching, Jesselton, became the next colonial imperialist when they signed the 1825 Anglo-Dutch Treaty that defined Netherland East Indies (Indonesia) and British Malaya. It was the British who then brought in the Indian and Chinese immigrants to work in rubber plantations and tin mines. The British continued to rule Malaya until World War 2.

    World War 2 and Independence

    The British was defeated by the Japanese during the World War 2 but then their rule was short-lived when the Japanese was defeated by the Allied Forces. The British returned but the political landscape had changed. The Malays were united and protested against the Malayan Union formed by the British as they felt it was taking away their Sultan’s political rights. The protest was led by the United Malays National Organisation or UMNO formed by Dato’ Onn bin Jaafar. The Federation of Malaya was formed to replace Malayan Union and gave back the political rights to the Sultans. On August 31, 1957, Malaya gained independence and Tunku Abdul Rahman became the first Prime Minister.

    Malaysia After Independence

    In September 16, 1963, Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore formed Malaysia. The first few years after independence, the country’s history were marred by a Communist insurgency, Indonesian confrontation with Malaysia, Philippines claims on Sabah, and Singapore’s departure from the Federation in 1965 and the racial riot in 1969. However, no matter what turbulence the country was facing, Malaysia grew stronger under the National Front Coalition government led by UMNO. During the 22-year leadership of Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (1981-2003), Malaysia was successful in diversifying its economy from dependence on agriculture to expansion in manufacturing, oil and gas, services and tourism industry.

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    People, Culture, Language

    Diversity in Unity

    “Malaysia Truly Asia” is more than just a slogan. It reflects precisely who Malaysians are. Yes, Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-lingual nation where people of diverse races and religions live in harmony. One moment you may come across a mosque next to a temple and church. The next moment, you will meet a Malay, Chinese, Indian and a Eurasian dining on the same table in a restaurant. Malaysians are humble, tolerant, friendly and most importantly, respect one another regardless of one’s race, religion and background. It is this true Malaysian value that binds them together.

    Malaysians comprise the Malays who are the majority followed by the Chinese, Indians and aborigines such as Iban, Kadazan and other minorities like the Peranakan and Eurasian. The culture of Malaysia is an amalgamation of many traditions handed down from many generations centuries ago. Each ethnic still continues practicing their own culture and traditions, and at the same time, some rituals and traditions have become more colourful and enriching through intermarriage as well as assimilation of other cultures. For an instance, tourists may find it surprising to see a Chinese wearing a Malay dress (baju kurung) or a Malay eating with chopsticks, or an Indian speaking Chinese Hokkien dialect. it is also very interesting to experience the like of an Eurasian of Portuguese and Chinese descent singing a Bollywood song. Or a Baba and Nyonya speaking Malay and praying to Chinese deities.

    Religious traditions often exist in harmony alongside modern technological advances. In cities, the bustling streets, skyscrapers, sophisticated office buildings reflect Malaysia’s unhesitating leap into the future with massive developments while ancient monuments and landmarks including century-old temples, mosques and churches are still preserved.

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    Colourful Festivals And A Warm Welcome To Tourists

    Malaysians are generally kind, humble and generous when it comes to festivals. Everyone including tourists are invited to attend Open Houses during Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Eid Ul-Fitr), Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Christmas, Festival of San Pedro, Gawai Festival, Ka’amatan Festival and more. There are also Open Houses held at a larger scale (national and state levels), where tourists can feast on the varieties of cuisines as well as the colourful cultural performances.

    Multi-language, Multi-fascination

    The official language of Malaysia is the Malay language or known as Bahasa Malaysia. Although Malay is the official language, English is widely spoken with other vernacular languages such as Mandarin, Tamil, Iban and Dusunic languages are also spoken by the respective communities. The influence of one language to another has even created a unique creole language – “Manglish” or Malaysian English. So, don’t be surprised to hear words like “gostan” to mean “go astern” or “reverse slowly” when Malaysians park their cars.

    In other words, Malaysia is a nation of striking contrasts and diversities, a uniqueness that makes the country colourful and attractive to tourists.

    Malaysia Fast Facts | Banner | Reed Magazine Sri Lanka

    Fast Facts


    Malaysia covers a total landmass of 329,847 square kilometres separated by the South China Sea into two regions, the Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak). Malaysia consists of a total of thirteen states and three federal territories (Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan).


    Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy and the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong commonly known as the King, is the Head of the nation. The Government of the day is Barisan Nasional (National Front Coalition) consisting of 13 component parties and led by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). Kuala Lumpur is the capital city of Malaysia while Putrajaya is the heart of the administration of the Federal Government.


    The demographics of Malaysia are represented by the multi-ethnic communities that exist in this country. The Department of Statistics Malaysia reported Malaysia’s population, as of April 2013, is estimated to be 29,620,200. Out of this number, the Bumiputeras including Malays were 62.3%, the Chinese 22%, the Indians 6.7%, other races (citizens) 0.9% and non-citizens at 8.1%.


    Islam is the official religion of Malaysia. Other religions are also widely practiced by its multi-racial society.

    Climate & Weather

    Malaysia has a tropical climate and the weather is warm and sunny all year round. Average daily temperature is around 32ºC (90ºF) during the day. It falls to around 24ºC (75ºF) at night. Annual rainfall varies from 2,000 mm to 2,500 mm.


    Malaysia has a newly industrialised market economy, which is relatively open and state-oriented. In 2012, the economy of Malaysia was the third largest economy in Southeast Asia and the GDP growth was 5.1 percent. Malaysia is one of the leading exporters of electrical appliances, electronic parts and components, palm oil, petroleum and natural gas. Malaysia is also externally competitive, ranking 12th out of 135 economies in the World Bank in 2013. (Doing Business 2013 report).

    Malaysia’s tourism sector contributed over RM47 billion to the Gross National Income (GNI) in 2012 and became a key pillar to the country’s aspiration to be a high-income nation by 2020. The industry experienced a remarkable growth and evolved to become one of the country’s fastest growing economic sectors, contributing RM60.6 billion in tourist receipts, with tourist arrivals registering at 25.03 million in 2012.


    Eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and 16 hours ahead of United States Pacific Standard Time.