1. West Malaysia (or Peninsular Malaysia) on the Malay Peninsula shares a land border on the north with Thailand and is connected by the Johor-Singapore Causeway. It consists of the 11 states Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Penang, Selangor and Terengganu, and the two federal territories of Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur.
2. East Malaysia occupies the northern part of the island of Borneo, bordering Indonesia and the Sultanate of Brunei. It consists of the federal territory of Labuan islands and the states of Sabah and Sarawak.
|Map of Malaysia
Malaysia has long been a center of international trade. The country lies directly on the sea routes between China and India. For centuries, small kingdoms and sultanates in what is now Malaysia profited from this trade, either by assisting it or by preying upon it. In the 16th century, Europeans began trading in Asia. Trade bases were established, and the Malay “pirate kingdoms” were gradually conquered. Malaysia became a British colony.
The British were temporarily driven out by the Japanese during World War II. In 1946, faced with the nationalist aspirations of the Malay peoples, the British consolidated the patchwork of sultanates and states on the Malay Peninsula into a crown colony called the Malayan Union. Many ethnic Malays were dissatisfied with the Union, as a result, it was replaced in 1948 with the Malayan Federation. The sultans were restored to power, and the ethnic Malays were guaranteed favorable treatment.
The Federation of Malaya became independent from the United Kingdom in 1957. A new, expanded nation was proposed, uniting the Malay Peninsula, the island crown colony of Singapore, and the three British-controlled territories on the island of Borneo: Sarawak, Brunei, and North Borneo (later renamed Sabah). The sultan of Brunei, wealthy with oil revenues, declined to join. The new Federation of Malaysia came into being in 1963. The only change in the makeup of the Federation has been the secession of Singapore in 1965.
Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy. The monarchy is rather unique: the nine hereditary sultans elect from among themselves a “paramount ruler” for a five-year term. The paramount ruler (Yang di-Pertuan Agong), essentially a king with a five-year reign, is the chief of state of Malaysia. The head of government of Malaysia is the prime minister. The United Malays National Organization (UMNO) is the most powerful political party. There are two legislative houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the head of state of Malaysia. The office was established in 1957 when Malaysia gained independence from the United Kingdom. Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy with an elected monarch as head of state. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is one of the few elected monarchs in the world. In Malaysia's constitutional monarchy, Yang di-Pertuan Agong has extensive powers within the Constitution. The constitution specifies that the executive power of the Federal government is vested in the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and is exercised by him on the advice of the federal Council of Ministers. The latter is headed by the Prime Minister, appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong from among the elected members of Parliament.
The 14th and current Yang di-Pertuan Agong is Sultan Abdul Halim of Kedah. His reign began on 13 December 2011 after his election by the Conference of Rulers. He is the first ruler to hold the position twice, having served as the fifth Yang di-Pertuan Agong from 1970 to 1975, as well as the oldest elected to the office at the age of 83. The installation of the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong was held on 11 April 2012, at the new Istana Negara at Jalan Duta.
The Prime Minister of Malaysia is the indirectly elected head of government (executive) of Malaysia. He is officially appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the head of state, who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of that House of Representatives, the elected lower house of Parliament. He heads the Cabinet, whose members are appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the prime minister's advice. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet shall be collectively responsible to Parliament. The Prime Minister's Department is the body and ministry in which the Prime Minister exercises its functions and powers.The current prime minister is Najib Razak.
The judicial system consists of a Supreme Court and two High Courts, one in peninsular Malaysia and one for Sabah and Sarawak. The Supreme Court comprises a president, the two chief justices of the High Court and other judges. The judges are appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the prime minister after consulting the Conference of Rulers. The death penalty is in force for offenses including murder, kidnapping and drug-trafficking.
The official language of Malaysia is Bahasa Malaysia. Ethnic Malays and some Indians are muslims. Most Chinese, when forced to choose, will describe themselves as Buddhist,” but they may follow several religious traditions concurrently. Although Malaysia is officially an Islamic state, nearly half the population identifies itself as non-Muslim.
Initially heavily dependent on agricultural and mining activities, the Malaysian economy has since shifted its focus to manufacturing and tourism as its major sources of income. Despite the shift, Malaysia is one of the top producers of rubber and palm oil. In the 1970s, the government implemented the controversial New Economic Policy (NEP) to address an income disparity between the Malays and Chinese.
Ethnic Malays (called Bumiputera) make up just over 60 percent of the Malaysian population. Ethnic Chinese constitute almost 30 percent, and ethnic Indians number over 9 percent. The remainder constitutes a wide variety of native and foreign people. Consequently, Malaysia’s population of approximately 24 million (2006 estimate) is divided not only by geography but by race and language as well.
The richest Malaysian for 2014 is Robert Kuok, with a net worth of $11.5 Billion. The Chinese Malaysian tycoon, at age 90, made his money in sugar, palm oil, shipping and property. Sudden resignation of Robert Kuok's eldest son, Kuok Khoon Chen, from his Kuok Group's Kerry Properties to take the helm of Shangri-La (Asia) touched off speculation of a power struggle in his family for control of an empire that spans the region. Amid falling earnings and the listing of Kerry's logistics unit, Kerry's shares plunged in 2013. The Kuok Group boasts a huge network of companies under 3 main groups in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. Biggest source of wealth is his stake in Wilmar, the world's largest listed palm oil company. Wilmar is run by his nephew, Kuok Khoon Hong, a Singapore citizen who's also a billionaire thanks to his 10% stake in the company. Robert Kuok also controls Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, once the world's most profitable daily newspaper.
|Kuala Lumpur at night
Kuala Lumpur is the capital city, legislative capital of Malaysia and the largest city in the country. Kuala Lumpur is one of the three Malaysian Federal Territories. It is an enclave within the state of Selangor, on the central west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Within Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is commonly referred to as KL. With the completion of Putrajaya in the late 1990s, both arms have since migrated to Putrajaya though sections of the judicial branch still remain in Kuala Lumpur. KL is not really a city dedicated to tourists. Its attraction lies in its fascinating contrasts of old Malaya and hi-tech, high rise steel and plate glass. At night KL comes alive with street vendors, trendy coffee shops and cafes, and restaurants sprawl out across the streets.
Genting Highlands, otherwise known as Resorts World Genting, is a hill resort in Malaysia developed by Genting Group. Genting Highlands is famous for its casino, and Theme Parks. This is visible from Kuala Lumpur downtown on a clear day and as well on most nights. The hill resort is at an average elevation of 5,710 ft. within the Titiwangsa Mountains on the border between the states of Pahang and Selangor of Malaysia. It is accessible by car from Kuala Lumpur in one hour, or also accessible by a cable car called Genting Skyway 3.38 kilometers which at its opening used to be the world's fastest and South East Asia's longest gondola lift.
The Petronas Towers, also known as the Petronas Twin Towers are twin skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH)'s official definition and ranking, they were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 until surpassed by Taipei 101, but they remain the tallest twin buildings in the world. The buildings are the landmark of Kuala Lumpur with nearby Kuala Lumpur Tower. The Petronas Twin Towers is a 88-storeys, soaring to 452 m, was completed in 1996. Much of the office space is occupied by Petronas, the national petroleum corporation, and associate companies.
The Kuala Lumpur Tower (KL Tower) is a tall tower located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Its construction was completed on 1 March 1995. It is used for communication purposes and features an antenna that reaches 421 meters (1,381 feet). The roof of the pod is at 335 meters (1,099 feet). The rest of the tower below has a stairwell and an elevator to reach the upper area, which also contains a revolving restaurant, providing diners with a panoramic view of the city. The tower is the highest viewpoint in Kuala Lumpur that is open to the public. The KL Tower, currently the world's fifth tallest telecommunication tower, is located on the Bukit Nanas hill beside Convent Bukit Nanas. It provides stunning views of the city and its surrounding hills.
Batu Caves is a limestone hill that has a series of caves and cave temples in the Gombak district, 13 kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur. It takes its name from the Sungai Batu or Batu River, which flows past the hill. Batu Caves is also the name of the nearby village. The cave is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, dedicated to Lord Murugan. The Batu Caves are a series of tall limestone caves, home to a Hindu temple. This is a beautiful temple situated in a cave on the top of a very high hill. Every year, a festival is held here where devout Hindus impale themselves with sharp rods and carry idols up this hill. These caves are within an hour drive from downtown Kuala Lumpur, and are worth a visit by tourists.
The Istana Negara, along Jalan Istana, was the official residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Supreme King) of Malaysia. It stands on a 13- acre site, located at a commanding position on the slope of a hill of Bukit Petaling overlooking the Klang River, along Jalan Syed Putra. It was replaced by a new palace as the official residence of the King in 2011. On 2013 it was converted into Royal Museum.
Putrajaya is a planned city, located 25 km. south of Kuala Lumpur, that serves as the federal administrative center of Malaysia. The seat of government was shifted in 1999 from Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya, due to the overcrowding and congestion in the Kuala Lumpur areas. Nevertheless, Kuala Lumpur remains Malaysia's national capital, being the seat of the King and Parliament, as well as the country's commercial and financial center. Putrajaya was the brainchild of former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad. In 2001, Putrajaya became Malaysia's third Federal Territory after Kuala Lumpur and Labuan. A modern futuristic looking township that houses all government ministries. The administrative buildings have been built on either side of a long road - in a manner stated to be modeled after the National Mall in Washington DC. At one end of this driveway is the Prime Minister's office and at the other end is a convention center.
The Masjid Negara (National Mosque), a post modernist mosque, was completed in 1965 and Makam Pahlawan (Heroes Mausoleum) the mausoleum of Malaysian leaders. The National Mosque of Malaysia is located in Kuala Lumpur. It has a capacity of 15,000 people and is situated among 13 acres of beautiful gardens. The original structure was designed by a three-person team from the Public Works Department - UK architect Howard Ashley, and Malaysians Hisham Albakri and Baharuddin Kassim. The mosque was built in 1965 on the site of a church, the Venning Road Brethren Gospel Hall which had stood there since 1922 but appropriated by the Malaysian government. The mosque is a bold and modern approach in reinforced concrete, symbolic of the aspirations of a then newly independent Malaysia.