Tuesday, July 3, 2007

About Malaysia

From Wikipedia & Malaysiana1.
Malaysia is a federation of thirteen states in Southeast Asia.
The country consists of two geographical regions divided by the South China Sea.
Peninsular Malaysia (or West Malaysia) on the Malay Peninsula shares a land border on the north with Thailand and is connected by the Johor-Singapore Causeway and the Malaysia-Singapore Second Link to the south with Singapore.
It consists of nine sultanates (Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor and Terengganu), two states headed by governors (Melaka and Penang), and two federal territories (Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur).
Malaysian Borneo (or East Malaysia) occupies the northern part of the island of Borneo, bordering Indonesia and surrounding the Sultanate of Brunei.
It consists of the states of Sabah and Sarawak and the federal territory of Labuan.
The name Malaysia was adopted in 1963 when the Federation of Malaya expanded to include Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak.
Singapore left Malaysia in 1965 and became an independent republic.
Historically, Malaysia and Malaya referred to the region which covers modern-day Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines and East Timor.
The indigenous people of this region are Native Malaysians who speak languages of the Malaysian linguistic family.
Although politically dominated by Native Malaysians, Malaysian society is heterogeneous, with substantial Chinese and Indian minorities.
The country has been largely stable, save for a brief period of inter-ethnic violence in 1969, between mainly indigenous supporters of the ruling conservative National Front (Barisan Nasional or BN) coalition of parties and the mainly Chinese supporters of the left-wing opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP).
Indigenous Malaysians, of East Asian stock, and Melanesians known as Negritos, of African stock, have been living in Malaysia since time immemorial.
The oldest Malaysian kingdoms were Johor, Kedah and Kelantan. Johor was the most powerful, and ruled the whole Malaysian subcontinent.
Johor’s masters were the Johor indigenous people, the founders of Malaysia’s national language, Malay, also known as Bahasa Malaysia or Malaysian.
Kedah was the kingdom of the Kedah indigenous tribe which has links to the Hmong of Laos, the Batak of Sumatra in modern-day Indonesia, and the Iban of Sarawak.
Kelantan was the kingdom of the Cham or Vietnamese.
Originally Hindus and Buddhists, the indigenous Malaysians largely became Muslim after Kelantan embraced Islam in the era of the Righteous Caliphs.
Kelantan was the first Muslim kingdom in East Asia.
The Johor empire, which relocated to Melaka from 1400 to 1511, had strong trade and diplomatic ties with China.
China gave protection to Johor against expansionism from Thailand, a former vassal of Johor.
Melaka was conquered by the Portuguese in 1511, and they ruled the former fief of the Johor sultan until the Dutch expelled them in 1641. In 1824, Melaka was taken by the British.
In the 1500s, Spain seized the islands of Luzon and the Visayas from the sultan of Sulu, the king of the Bajau tribe which ruled Sabah, and created the colony of the Philippines.
In the same decade, Portugal took East Timor in the Tenggara Islands from the king of Sulawesi who ruled from Makassar.
The Philippines was taken from Spain by the United States in 1900, and in the same year, the Americans took the islands of Mindanao, the Sulu Islands and Palawan from the Sulu monarch who ruled from Sabah.
The Philippines, incorporating Mindanao, the Sulu Islands and Palawan, became independent in 1946.
East Timor gained independence from Portugal in 1976. It was subsequently occupied by Indonesia, on the orders of the United States, and regained independence in 1999.
Britain established its first colony in Malaysia when it took Penang from the Kedah sultan in 1786.
In 1819, Britain took Singapore from the Johor sultan.
In 1824, the Johor monarch ceded all his protectorates in maritime Malaysia to Holland.
Holland created the colony of the Dutch East Indies, also called Dutch Malaya or the Dutch Johor Islands, and governed it until 1945 when it became the independent Republic of Indonesia.
In the 1700s, when Johor was at war with Holland, Thailand became expansionist again, and made the northern protectorates of Johor namely Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Patani and Terengganu, its protectorates.
Between 1470 and 1773, territories of Johor broke free from the kingdom and became separate sultanates. They were Pahang (1470), Perak (1528), Terengganu (1720), Selangor (1745) and Negeri Sembilan (1773).
Perlis left Kedah in 1821 and became a separate sultanate.
All but Selangor were protectorates of Johor.
In the 1800s, wars of succession in these states resulted in British colonial intervention.
The Malaysian sultans were forced to accept British advisers called Residents, who became powers behind their thrones.
In 1909, Britain brought Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu back into Malaysia.
However, Patani remained a protectorate of Thailand, and the Thais annexed the kingdom after World War 2.
Sarawak was acquired from the sultan of Brunei in 1842 while Sabah was acquired from the Brunei ruler and his vassal, the sultan of Sulu, in 1881. Brunei became a British protectorate with a Resident in 1846.
Malaysia was seized by the Japanese in 1941. The fascist Japanese army ruled the country brutally for four years, killing a large number of Malaysian Chinese.
The Chinese-based Communist Party of Malaysia launched a guerilla warfare against the Japanese invaders, and together with the British, they drove the Japanese out in 1945.
The Communists continued to fight after the British retook Malaysia. It was only in 1989, after pressure by China, that they decided to give up their armed struggle to make Malaysia a socialist republic.
Pro-independence movements mushroomed beginning from the 1930s. Their agitation peaked after World War 2.
In 1955, Britain organised pre-independence general elections which were won by the National Front (then called the Alliance) comprising the United Malay National Organisation (UMNO), the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC).
These parties represented the interests of the indigenous Malaysians (called Malays), the Malaysian Chinese and the Malaysian Indians, respectively.
Malaysia gained independence on August 31, 1957. Singapore became a separate British colony in 1946.
On September 16, 1963, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak gained independence as member states of an enlarged Malaysia.
Brunei chose not to join Malaysia and became independent from Britain in 1984.
Indonesia and the Philippines had brief armed skirmishes with Malaysia between 1963 and 1965. The then Indonesian president Ahmad Sukarno and the then Philippine president Diosdado Macapagal had their reasons.
Sukarno viewed the Kuala Lumpur federal government as right-wing “stooges” of Britain and the United States who gave refuge to his political enemies.
Macapagal staked a claim on Sabah, which has always been flimsy.
Both presidents eventually made peace with Malaysia.
After the 1969 race riots, the government created the New Economic Policy (NEP) which allowed indigenous people to receive special help in the form of business and education loans, and quotas in all sectors of the economy.
Special assistance to indigenous people, however, is not meant to be permanent, as it can spoil them rotten.
Malaysia became a newly industrialised nation in the late 1980s, and is now the Muslim world’s most developed nation.

Malaysia is a federal, elective constitutional monarchy. The federal head of state is the King or Yang Dipertuan Agong (literally Great King).
The King is elected for a five-year term and chosen from amongst the nine sultans.
The political system is closely based on Britain’s. However, unlike Britain, Malaysia has a written constitution.
Legislative power is divided between federal and state legislatures. The bicameral parliament consists of the lower house, the House of Representatives or Dewan Rakyat (literally People’s Assembly) and the upper house, the Senate or Dewan Negara (literally the National Assembly).
Members of the lower house are elected while those of the upper house are appointed by the King on the advise of the executive branch of the political system headed by the prime minister.
The state legislatures are unicameral and are entirely elected.
Parliamentary and state elections are held every five years.
The executive branch of the system comprises the cabinet headed by the prime minister who is the chief executive officer of the nation.
Malaysia has an independent judiciary headed by the Chief Justice of Malaysia, appointed by the King on the advise of the prime minister.
State governments are led by head ministers (or Menteri Besar) in the royal states and chief ministers (or Ketua Menteri) in the non-royal states.
Both West and East Malaysia feature coastal plains rising to densely forested hills and mountains, the highest of which is Mount Kinabalu at 4,095 metres in Ranau, Sabah.
The local climate is equatorial and characterised by the annual southwest (May to September) and northeast (November to April) monsoons.
Tanjung Piai, in Pontian, Johor, is the southernmost tip of continental Asia.
The Straits of Melaka, between Sumatra and Peninsular Malaysia, is arguably the most important shipping lane in the world.
Putrajaya was created as Malaysia’s seat of government in 2001, to ease growing congestion within the capital city, Kuala Lumpur.
Kuala Lumpur remains the seat of parliament, as well as the commercial capital of the country. Other major cities include Ipoh, Johor Baru, George Town, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Alor Star, Melaka and Petaling Jaya.
The Malay Peninsula has been a centre of trade for centuries. Various items such as porcelain and spice were actively traded since time immemorial.
During British colonial rule, rubber, tin and palm oil became the country’s major products, and the country was at one time the world’s top producer of these commodities.
In the 1980s, surplus capital accumulated from trade in the above commodities resulted in the country’s industrial take-off. Malaysia’s main export today is manufactured goods.
While the Chinese and Indian Malaysians first arrived in Malaysia during the days of the Johor empire, their forefathers mainly entered the country during British rule, as mine (Chinese) and plantation (Indian) labour.
Malaysia still exports rubber and palm oil, as well as timber, cocoa and tobacco. In the timber industry, Kuala Lumpur has a sound reforestation policy modelled after that of Canada, which ensures that every felled tree is replaced.
Petroleum was first discovered in Miri, Sarawak, by Shell, in 1910. In the 1970s, petroleum was discovered in Sabah and Terengganu.

Malaysia has extensive roads that connect all major cities and towns on the western coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
The total length of the Malaysian expressway network is 1,192 kilometres.
The major expressway, the North-South Expressway spans from the northern and the southern tips of Peninsular Malaysia at Bukit Kayu Hitam in Jitra, Kedah, and Johor Baru in Johor, respectively.
Roads in the East Malaysia and the eastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia are relatively undeveloped. They are highly curved roads passing through mountainous regions. This has resulted in the continued use of rivers as the main mode of transportation for interior residents.
Train service in West Malaysia is operated by Malayan Railways (Keretapi Tanah Melayu) which has extensive railroads that connect all major cities and towns in the peninsula, including Singapore.
There is also a short railway in Sabah operated by North Borneo Railway that mainly carries freight.
Malaysia’s ports are Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Kuching in Sarawak, Kuantan in Pahang, Pasir Gudang in Johor, Tanjung Pelepas in Skudai, Johor, George Town in Penang, Port Klang in Klang, Selangor, Sandakan in Sabah and Tawau in Sabah.
There are also world class airports, such as the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Selangor, the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas, Balik Pulau, Penang, the Kuching International Airport in Kuching, Sarawak, and the Langkawi International Airport in Kuah, Langkawi, Kedah.
Malaysia is the home of the first low-cost carrier in the region, Air Asia. It has Kuala Lumpur as its hub and maintains flights around Southeast Asia and China.
The intercity telecommunication service is provided on Peninsular Malaysia mainly by microwave radio. International telecommunications are provided through submarine cables and satellite.
One of the largest and most significant telecommunication companies in Malaysia is Telekom Malaysia (TM), providing products and services from fixed line, mobile as well as dial-up and broadband Internet access service.

The Malaysian healthcare system requires doctors to perform a compulsory 3 years service with public hospitals to ensure the manpower of these hospitals is maintained.
Recently foreign doctors have also been encouraged to take up employment here.
There is still, however, a shortage of highly trained specialists resulting in certain medical care and treatment only available in large cities.
Education in Malaysia is monitored by the federal government.
Most Malaysian children start schooling between the ages of 3 to 6, in kindergarten. Most kindergartens are run privately, but some are government-operated.
Children begin primary schooling at 7 years. There are two types of government-operated or government-assisted primary schools namely national schools (Sekolah Kebangsaan) which use Malaysian as the medium of instruction, and national-type schools (Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan) which use either Chinese (Mandarin) or Tamil as the medium of instruction.
Students sit for government examinations in Year 6.
Secondary education in government secondary schools lasts five years. Government secondary schools use Malaysian as the medium of instruction. There are government examinations in Form 3 and Form 5.
Malaysia has both public and private universities. The leading public universities are the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur and the National University of Malaysia (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia) in Kajang, Selangor.
The foreign universities with branch campuses in Malaysia include Australia’s Monash University and Curtin University and Britain’s University of Nottingham.
Most private colleges have twinning programmes with foreign universities, especially those in the United States, Australia and Britain.

Indigenous people form 63 per cent of the population, of which 53 per cent are West Malaysian natives collectively called Malays and 10 per cent are East Malaysian natives called Borneo Natives.

Malaysian Chinese form 27 per cent of the population, and Malaysian Indians form 10 per cent.

There is a large number of foreign workers, mostly from Indonesia and the Philippines, in Malaysia. From time to time, the government repatriates workers who enter the country illegally from these countries.


Malaysia is a multi-religious society and Islam is the official religion.
Religious freedom is guaranteed by the constitution.
Muslims make up 59 per cent of the population followed by Buddhists (24 per cent), Christians (10 per cent) and Hindus (7 per cent).
National Day is celebrated on August 31 every year. September 16 is National Unity Day which marks the independence of East Malaysia.
Other public holidays are Labour Day (May 1) and the King’s Birthday (first Saturday of June).
The main Muslim festival is Aidil Fitri also called Hari Raya (Big Day) in Malaysian. It marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan in the Muslim calendar.
Muslims also celebrate Aidil Adha or Hari Raya Haji which is a celebration for those who successfully performed the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj.
Malaysian Chinese celebrate Chinese New Year as well as traditional Chinese festivals such as the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Hindus celebrate Deepavali, the Festival of Lights and Thaipusam, a thanksgiving pilgrimage to the country’s largest Hindu cave temple, Batu Caves in Selayang, Selangor.
Natives of Sabah and Sarawak celebrate annual Harvest Festivals called Gawai in Sarawak and Kaamatan in Sabah.
Christmas and Wesak, the Buddhist New Year, are also celebrated on a large scale.
Multi-ethnic Malaysians frequently visit each other and attend private and government-organised open house parties to mark each major festive occasion.
Sometimes, joint celebrations of festivals are held, if these festivals fall within the same week.