The Federation of
Malaysia comprises Peninsular Malaysia and the states of
Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo.
Malaysia is made up
13 states and 3 Federal Territory (FT) as shown
Kedah, Penang, Perak
Kuala Lumpur (FT),
Putrajaya (FT), Selangor and Negeri Sembilan
Johor and Malacca
Kelantan, Pahang and
Labuan (FT), Sabah
Located at the crossroads of
Southeast Asia at 70N of the
Equator, Peninsular Malaysia is separated from the states of Sabah and Sarawak by the South China Sea. In the north of
the peninsular is Thailand while its southern neighbor is
329,758 sq km
Kuala Lumpur (Commonly being
referred to as 'KL')
Malays who make up about 57% of the population are the
predominant group with the Chinese, Indians and other ethnic
groups making up the rest.
Bahasa Melayu (Malay) is the national language but English
is widely spoken. The ethnic groups also speak various
languages and dialects.
Islam is the official religion
but all other religions are practiced freely.
Parliamentary democracy with a bicameral system. The Head of
State is the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and the Head of
Government is the Prime Minister.
The Federation of Malaysia is a
constitutional elective monarchy. It is nominally headed by
the paramount ruler (also known as the Head of State) or
Yang di-Pertuan Agong, commonly referred to as the King. A
King will be selected for a five-year term among the nine
sultans of the Malay states.
This system of government is
closely modeled on that of Westminster since Malaysia is a
former British colony. In practice, power is vested in the
executive branch of government rather than in the
legislative. A general election will be held once every five
Executive power is vested in the
cabinet led by the prime minister. The Malaysian
constitution states 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
The parliament under a bicameral
system consists of the Senate (Dewan Negara) and the House
of Representative (Dewan Rakyat). All 69 Senators sit for
the 6-year terms whereby 26 are elected by the 13 state
assemblies and 43 are appointed by the King. The 193 members
of the House of Representatives are elected from
single-member districts by universal adult suffrage for a
maximum 5-year term.
Legislative power is divided
between Federal and state legislatures.
Tropical climate with warm and humid weather all year
round. Temperatures range from 210C to 320C. Annual rainfall
varies from 2000mm to 2500 mm.
As trade began to flourished
between China and India through the busy Straits of Malacca,
the Malay Peninsular became a major commercial centre in
Southeast Asia. The earliest Malay kingdoms grew from
coastal city-ports in the 10th century AD which include
Langkasuka and Lembah Bujang in Kedah as well as Beruas and
Gangga Negara in Perak and Pan Pan in Kelantan.
Islam was introduced in the 14th
century in Terengganu. In the early part of the 15th
century, the sultanate of Malacca was established. Due to
its prosperity, it attracted invaders from Portugal and then
it became the centre of colonial expansion involving the
Dutch and British.
The British crown colony of the
Straits Settlements was established in 1826 and then it
gradually increased its control over the rest of the
peninsular. The Straits Settlements included Penang,
Singapore and Malacca.
Penang was established in 1786
by Captain Francis Light as a military as well as a
commercial outpost. Its development was soon overshadowed by
Singapore, established by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819.
Malacca came into British control after the Anglo-Dutch
Treaty of 1824. This settlements was ruled from the English
East India Company seat of government in Calcutta until 1867
when their administration was transferred to the Colonial
Office in London.
Later in time, several west
coast Malay states too become under the British influence.
The role of the merchants of the the Straits Settlements saw
the British government intervening into the affairs of the
tin producing states in the Malay Peninsular. Due to the
disturbances caused by the Chinese secret societies together
with civil war, British gunboat diplomacy was employed to
bring about a peaceful resolution that favored the merchants
of the Straits Settlements.
The Pangkor Treaty of 1874 paved
the way for the British influence to expand and by the turn
of the 20th century, the states of Negeri Sembilan, Pahang,
Perak and Selangor was known as the Federated Malay States
were under British rule who took orders from the High
Commissioner in Singapore, who was also the Governor of the
Straits Settlement. The officer in turn received orders from
the Colonial Office in London.
The other Peninsular states were
known as the Unfederated Malay States which were not
directly under the rule from London but had British advisors
in the Sultans' court. These four northern states of Kedah,
Kelantan, Perlis and Terengganu were previously under Thai
rule. British North Borneo (now known as Sabah) was a
British Crown Colony formerly under the rule of the
Sultanate of Sulu while the huge jungle territory of Sarawak
was the personal fiefdom of the Brooke family. Both North
Borneo and Sarawak are located on the islands of Borneo.
Following a Japanese occupation during World War II, a
popular support for independence grew, coupled with a strong
Post-war British plans to form a
'Malayan Union' were met by strong Malay opposition who
wanted a more pro-Malay system, rejecting Singapore's
inclusion and demanding only single citizenship as opposed
to the dual-citizenship option which would have allowed a
significant immigrant communities to claim citizenship in
both Malaya and their country of origin.
Finally, independence was
achieved for the peninsula in 1957 under the name of the
Federation of Malaya which did not include Singapore.
A new federation under the name
of Malaysia was formed on September 16, 1963 through the
merging of the Federation of Malaya and the British crown
colonies of Singapore, North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak. The
Sultanate of Brunei, though initially expressing in joining
the Federation pulled out due to the opposition from its
people. The early years were marred by Indonesia efforts to
control Malaysia, Philippines claims to Sabah, Singapore's
eventual secession in 1965 and a racial violence in May 13,
1969 following a fiercely contested general election.
There is a strong interlink between the
country's multi-racial and multicultural make-up with its
history. Beside the local Malays and the native groups,
immigrants from China, India, Indonesia and other parts of
the world have all contributed to the multiracial
composition of its population. Its interesting cultural
diversity can be largely attributed to the country's long
and on-going interaction with the outside world and colonial
rule by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British.
the evolution of the country into a cultural melting pot is
evident in the unique blend of religions, socio-cultural
activities and traditions, dressing, languages and food. The
country achieved independence on August 31, 1957 as the
Federation of Malaya and subsequently with entry of Sabah
and Sarawak, Malaysia was formed.
12. MAJOR HOLIDAYS
New Year's Day
(January)*, Hari Raya Aidil Fitri (January), Chinese New
Year (January/February*, Federal Territory Day (February
1)**, Wesak Day (May), King's Birthday (June), National Day
(August 31), Deepavali (October or November)#,
Christmas Day (December)
Note: * National Holidays, **
Kuala Lumpur and Labuan only, # Except Sarawak and Labuan
13. ECONOMIC PROFILE
constitutes the largest single component of Malaysia's
economy. Tourism and primary commodities such as petroleum,
palm oil, natural rubber and timber are major contributors
to its economy.
itself from a producer of raw materials into a
multi-sector economy via the New Economic Plan (NEP)
which also introduce a stronger bumiputra
participation in the economy through various
policies. Growth was entirely driven by exports
, especially from the electronics sector and as
a result of the global economic slowdown and the
slump in the information technology sector in
2001, Malaysia was hard hit with the GDP in 2001
grew by a miserable 0.3% but a fiscal stimulus
package by the government has mitigated the
worst of the recession and the economy
soon began to grow by over 4%.
macroeconomic environment with a low inflation
and unemployment figure together with a healthy
foreign exchange reserves and a relatively small
external debt makes it unlikely to experience a
similar crisis to the Asian financial crisis of
Photo: Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram in Penang
Visitors to Malaysia must be in
possession of a valid passport or travel document with a
minimum validity of six months beyond the intended visiting
period. Most nationalities do not require visas for a social
or business visits. For further information, please check
with the nearest Malaysian diplomatic mission or Tourism
The unit of currency is the Malaysian Ringgit indicated as
RM. Foreign currencies can be converted at banks and money
and non-residents are required to complete the Travelers
declaration Form (TDF). The revised TDF has two separated
sections and separate columns for residents and
non-residents to declare their currencies ; the blue
section for the residents and the white section for
only required to declare in detail the exact amount of
ringgit carried when they enter or leave the country only if
the amount is in excess of RM1,000. They are also required
to declare in detail the exact amount in foreign currency,
including traveler's cheque carried, when they leave the
country only if the amount exceeds the equivalent of
RM10,000. Residents do not have to declare any amount of
foreign currency, including traveler's cheques, carried
with them when they re-enter the country.
are only required to declare in detail the exact amount of
ringgit carried when they enter or leave the country only if
the amount is in excess of RM1,000. As for foreign
currency. including traveler's cheques, declaration in
detail is required only if the amount exceeds the equivalent
of USD2,500. Residents are required to keep the TDF in their
passport when they leave the country and surrender the TDF
on their return journey.
are required to keep the TDF with their passport and
surrender the TDF on leaving the country.
USD1.00 = RM3.80
Most states: Monday - Friday: 9.30am - 4.00pm
and Saturday: 9.30am - 11.30am
Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu:
Saturday - Wednesday 9.30am - 4.00pm and Thursday: 9.30am -
Also closed on the first and
third Saturday of the month.
Open from 8.30am to 5.00pm daily except first
Saturday of the month, Sundays and public holidays. In Kedah,
Kelantan and Terengganu post offices are closed on Fridays,
first Saturday of the month and public holidays.
Eight hours ahead of GMT and 16 hours ahead of U.S. Pacific
Voltage is 220-240 volts A C at 50 cycles
Malaysia follows the metric system
in weights and measures.
Local calls can be
made from public phones using coins or pre-paid cards.
International calls can be made from public phones with card
phone facilities or at any Telekom offices.
A large number of visitors to
Malaysia arrive by air. There are six international airports
in Malaysia with the main gateway being the Kuala Lumpur
International Airport (KLIA) at Sepang in the state of
Selangor. The rest of the country including Sabah, Sarawak
and the Federal Territory of Labuan in East Malaysia is well
serviced by 14 domestic airports and airstrips for the rural
state-of-the-art KLIA which was opened in mid-1998 is one of
the most modern airports in the world and has replaced the
Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang as the premier
international gateway into Malaysia. The KLIA is a
four-runway airport facility capable of handling an initial
25 million passengers per annum with facilities for
expansion to 45 million passengers per annum.
Incorporated into the airport's
design are an automated people-mover shuttle system which
links the satellite building at which passengers disembark,
to a contact pier where immigration and customs clearances
take place, and finally to the airport terminal building. An
efficient aerotrain service brings arriving passengers from
the satellite building to the contact pier in two minutes.
This fully automated baggage and passenger clearance system
ensures reduced waiting time.
The airport terminal building
has suitable rest, recreation, dining and duty free shopping
areas. Beside shops and restaurants, a recreational
facility, the Hotel Airside Transit, offers a fitness centre
with gym, steam and sauna. An international class hotel is
located within walking distance from the terminal building.
Car rental, bus and coach, taxi, limousine and rail services
into the city of Kuala Lumpur and neighboring towns are
available at KLIA.
KLIA is located about 50km from
the city of Kuala Lumpur and linked via the ELITE Expressway
which runs north to Kuala Lumpur. The journey takes about
one hour. There is also a highway that runs east to the town
of Nilai along the North-South Expressway. This expressway
links the main towns on the west coast of Peninsular
The KTM Komuter train service
operates from Kuala Lumpur to the town of Nilai, which is a
junction point to other towns. An express Rail Link (ERL)
from KL Sentral, the future main rail terminal and
transportation hub in Kuala Lumpur is still being built.
Outgoing air travelers will be able to check in at KL
Sentral and take the ERL to the KLIA.
The Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang
now serves a few domestic and
regional airlines. Other major international airports which
serve as entry points are Penang, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and
Both Peninsular Malaysia and
Sabah and Sarawak in Borneo are accessible via their sea
ports. Malaysia's largest modern sea port is Port Klang,
located midway on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. It
has excellent harborage and is a major shipping and cargo
terminal. Other sea ports are located in Penang and Langkawi,
in the north of Peninsular Malaysia, Johor to the south,
Kuantan on the East Coast and Kota Kinabalu in Sabah.
Westport and Pulau Indah
Port Klang is already serviced
by its North Port and South Port facilities but a recent
development is the international harbor city. Westport
located on the island of Pulau Indah, lying just beside Port
Klang. Pulau Indah is a free trade zone and is undergoing
development as an industrial, commercial and residential
hub. Recreational and tourism development projects include a
marina and resorts.
The Westport stretching over 11
km, with a natural depth of 14-18 m is designed to be a
high-tech regional port to ships from all over the world. It
has a container terminal, large warehouse area and
commercial centre. It is also the site of the largest cruise
ship terminal in the Asia-Pacific region, known as the Star
Cruise Terminal. Star Cruises and the Empress Cruise Lines
are the major international leisure lines that call at
Penang, Port Klang, Malacca and Langkawi.
FerryLink operates a vehicular
ferry service consisting of 4 trips daily on weekdays and 8
trips on weekends from Changi Point in Singapore (near the
airport) to Tanjung Belungkor on the southern coastline of
Peninsular Malaysia, facilitating speedier access to the
popular beach resort of Desaru on Johor's eastern coast.
For reservations, contact tel:
02-545 3600 (Changi Point) or 07- 252 7408 (Bandar Penawar,
Situated 48 km north of Alor
Setar in the northern state of Kedah, Bukit Kayu Hitam is
the main entry point into Malaysia for visitors from
Thailand. The Malaysian immigration and customs post is
located near restaurants, shops, car parks and a duty-free
shopping complex. The North-South Expressway links Bukit
Kayu Hitam to Kuala Lumpur, 490 km away.
Johor Bahru is the main southern
entry-point into Peninsular Malaysia for visitors entering
Malaysia from Singapore. The North-South Expressway links
Johor Bahru with Kuala Lumpur 220 km to the north and takes
in several towns along the way.
A causeway carrying a road and
railway, connects Johor Bahru to Singapore. Immigration and
Customs checkpoints are based at the entrance to the
Causeway. A second bridge links Tanjung Kupang 30 km
south-west of Johor-Bahru to Tuas in Singapore. Keretapi
Tanah Melayu (KTM) has train services connecting Singapore
to Johor Bahru and other states in the peninsular right up
to Padang Besar on the border with Thailand.
Padang Besar is Malaysia's
northern-most state of Perlis serves as another entry point.
It is on the main rail route and a daily train service from
Bangkok stops here. Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) or Malayan
Railway provides the international express from Butterworth
to Haadyai in Thailand and has regular services from Padang
Besar to Kuala Lumpur and on to Singapore.
The exclusive Eastern and
Oriental Express also romances this route on a nearly 2,000
km journey from Singapore via Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok
traversing the entire length of Peninsular Malaysia with
frequent stops at scenic locations, over a two-day period.
A causeway carrying a road and
railway, connects Johor Bahru to Singapore. Immigration and
Customs checkpoints are based at the entrance to the
Causeway. Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) has train services
connecting Singapore to Johor Bahru and other states in the
peninsular right up to Padang Besar on the border with
Malaysia has a well developed
internal transportation infrastructure enabling travel
within the country to be convenient, speedy and relatively
inexpensive. All major towns have road, rail and air links
and there is a good public transportation system which
includes rental cars, taxis, buses, a Light Rail Transit (LRT)
Systems in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur which links to
the adjoining Klang Valley district. Another rail service
known as KTM Komuter connects suburban or adjoining
districts with Kuala Lumpur.
One way to travel by air in
Malaysia is to use the domestic services available from the
Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah International Airport at Subang,
Selangor. Aside from Malaysia Airlines, other domestic
airlines such as Air Asia, Pelangi Air, Berjaya Air,
Transmile and Sabah Air also serve popular tourist
destinations within the country.
There are domestic air services
linking Kuala Lumpur International Airport with major cities
within the Peninsular and with Sabah and Sarawak. Major
cities linked to Kuala Lumpur include Ipoh, Penang, Alor
Setar, Langkawi, Kota Bahru, Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan,
Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Tawau,
Labuan, Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu and Miri.
Most points in Peninsular
Malaysia are accessible via the North-South Expressway which
links up to coastal roads and the rest of the road arteries
in the country. The Expressway is an excellent road network
which allows you to drive through Peninsular Malaysia. There
are also modern highways which connect towns and
villages throughout the length and breath of the country.
Interstate air-conditioned buses
ply between most cities and towns in Malaysia. They offer a
comfortable ride at a reasonable rate. These are to be found
in all major cities and offer air-conditioned comfort at
metered rates. There are set charges for outstation travel.
The railway network extends from
neighboring Singapore through the major cities and towns
within Peninsular Malaysia up to Thailand on both the West
and East Coasts. You can travel in air-conditioned comfort
in daytime first class coaches with single or double berths.
Second class coaches also have sleeping berths.
Ferry services are offered to
major islands. In Peninsular Malaysia, the ferry service
between Butterworth and Penang island is still popular
despite the Penang Bridge link. A modern ferry service is
offered from Kuala Perlis on the mainland to Pulau Langkawi,
a popular tourist destination.
Regular boat services are
available on the Lumut-Pangkor Island and the Mersing-Tioman
Island routes. A longboat service is available from Labuan
to Menumbak in Sabah. In the riverine areas of Sarawak, the
major means of transportation are air-conditioned express
Malaysia has a wide range of
accommodation at competitive rates. International standard
hotels, medium and budget hotels, youth hostels and
timeshare apartments are just some of the types of
accommodation available. Privately operated motor-homes are
also available for rental.
25. DO'S AND
When visiting Malaysia, the visitor should
observe local customs and practices.
Some common courtesies
and customs are as follows:-
Shoes must always be removed
when entering a Malaysian home, places of worship such as
mosques and temples.
Some mosques provide robes and scarves
for female visitors.
Taking photographs at places of worship
is usually permitted but always ask for permission first.
The right hand is always used
when eating with one's hand or when giving and receiving
The right forefinger is not used
to point at places, objects or persons. Instead, the thumb
of the right hand with the four fingers, folded under is the