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About Malaysia


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To know Malaysia is to love Malaysia - a bubbling, bustling melting pot of races and religions where Malays, Indians, Chinese and many other ethnic groups live together in peace and harmony. Our multiculturalism has made Malaysia a gastronomical paradise and home to hundreds of colourful festivals. It's no wonder that we love celebrating and socialising. As a people, Malaysians are very relaxed, warm and friendly.

Geographically, Malaysia is almost as diverse as its culture. 11 states and 2 federal territories (Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya) form Peninsular Malaysia which is separated by the South China Sea from East Malaysia which includes the 2 states (Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo) and a third federal territory, the island of Labuan.

One of Malaysia's key attractions is its extreme contrasts which further add to this theme of ‘diversity’. Towering skyscrapers look down upon wooden houses built on stilts while five-star hotels sit just metres away from ancient reefs.

Rugged mountains reach dramatically for the sky while their rainforestclad slopes sweep down to floodplains teeming with forest life. Cool highland hideaways roll down to warm, sandy beaches and rich, humid mangroves.

For the perfect holiday full of surprises, the time is now, the place is Malaysia.

Adapted from http://www.tourism.gov.my/

People & Language

People & Language image

As a melting pot for culture and language, it’s no wonder when one first comes to Malaysia, one will be taken aback by the abundance of languages, dialects and races living harmoniously together. With languages such as English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil is widely heard and used across Malaysia, so tourists and businesses will have no problem adapting here!

Malaysian Malay People

The Malays are an ethnic group of Austronesian people who populate Peninsular Malaysia, parts of Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei and the island of Borneo. The history of Malays can be traced as far back as 100AD. In short, the Malays consists of Austronesian-speaking people from mainland Asia, from the Kingdom of Champa (an ancient kingdom in Vietnam) and from Sumatera, who migrated to Malaysia between 2500 BC and 1500 BC. Presently, the Malays make up half the population in Malaysia.

(Austronesian - people from various places in Southeast Asia and Oceania)

Malaysian Chinese People

The Malaysian Chinese are descendants of the Chinese who migrated to Malaysia between the first and the mid-twentieth centuries. The Chinese are the second largest ethnic group in Malaysia.

The first historical record of Chinese immigrants was in the 15th century, when the Sultan of Malacca, Sultan Mansur Syah, married a Chinese princess. When the princess came over, she brought with her five hundred youths and maids of noble birth. The descendants of these people are called Baba and Nyonya. They are also known as Peranakan Chinese.

Later on, in the 19th century, more Chinese immigrated to Malaysia to work in rubber plantations and tin mines.

Malaysian Indian People

Malaysian Indians are descendants of those who migrated from India when the British were colonizing Malaysia, or as it was known back then, Malaya. The majority of these migrants are Tamils; followed by Punjabis, Gujaratis, Telugus, Sindhis, Ceylonese, Malayalees, and other smaller ethnic Indian groups.

The Indians first came to Malaysia for trading purposes in Malacca. Others were sent as labourers in coffee plantations, rubber and oil estates, when the British ruled India. The Indians are the third largest ethnic group in Malaysia.

The three main races in Malaysia each have their own unique language and dialects. The Malay language has ten dialects, the Chinese has seven and the Indians have six.

People of East Malaysia

Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan are located in East Malaysia, the geographic part of Malaysia located on the island of Borneo. In addition to the races discussed above, there are many, small indigenous tribes of people who live in East Malaysia. The tribal group Dayak represents the biggest population in Sarawak. Ibans and Bidayuhs are part of the Dayak tribe while the Kadazan is the biggest indigenous tribe in Sabah.

Adapted from http://www.mm2h.com

culture & heritage

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There is no one definition of Malaysian culture. It’s a combination of Malay, Chinese, Indian and other indigenous ethnic groups, each with their own unique culture and heritage. The best way to experience Malaysian culture? Get to know the people! The indigenous ethnic groups can also be broken down via Peninsula Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.

Peninsula Malaysia

The general term used for any of the indigenous groups that are found in Peninsular Malaysia is ‘Orang Asli’ which literally translates as the ‘original people’. They are divided into three main tribal groups: Negrito, Senoi and Proto-Malay. The Negrito usually live in the north, the Senoi in the middle and the Proto-Malay in the south. Each group or sub-group has its own language and culture. Some are fishermen, some farmers and some are semi-nomadic.


The largest indigenous ethnic groups of Sabah's population are the Kadazan Dusun, the Bajau and the Murut.

Kadazan Dusun

The largest ethnic group of Sabah, the Kadazan Dusuns form about 30% of the state's population. Actually consisting of two tribes; the Kadazan and the Dusun, they were grouped together as they both share the same language and culture. However, the Kadazan are mainly inhabitants of flat valley deltas, which are conducive to paddy field farming, while the Dusun traditionally lived in the hilly and mountainous regions of interior Sabah.


The second largest ethnic group in Sabah, the Bajaus make up about 15% of the state's population. Historically a nomadic sea-faring people that worshipped the Omboh Dilaut or God of the Sea, they are sometimes referred to as the Sea Gypsies. Those who chose to leave their sea-faring ways became farmers and cattle-breeders. These land Bajaus are nicknamed 'Cowboys of the East' in tribute to their impressive equestrian skills, which are publicly displayed in the annual Tamu Besar festival at Kota Belud.


The third largest ethnic group in Sabah the Muruts make up about 3% of the state's population. Traditionally inhabiting the northern inland regions of Borneo, they were the last of Sabah's ethnic groups to renounce headhunting. Now, they are mostly shifting cultivators of hill paddy and tapioca, supplementing their diet with blowpipe hunting and fishing. Like most indigenous tribes in Sabah, their traditional clothing is decorated with distinctive beadwork.


Collectively known as Dayaks, the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu are the major ethnic groups in the state of Sarawak. Typically, they live in longhouses, traditional community homes that can house 20 to 100 families.


The largest of Sarawak's ethnic groups, the Ibans form 30% of the State's population of 2.5 million. Sometimes erroneously referred to as the Sea Dayaks because of their skill with boats, they are actually an upriver tribe from the heart of Kalimantan. In the past, they were a fearsome warrior race renowned for headhunting and piracy. Traditionally, they worship a triumvirate of gods under the authority of Singalang Burung, the bird-god of war. Although now mostly Christians, many traditional customs are still practised.


Peace-loving and easy-going, the gentle Bidayuh are famous for their hospitality and tuak or rice wine. Making their homes in Sarawak's southern regions, they are mostly farmers and hunters. In their past headhunting days their prized skulls were stored in a 'baruk‘, a roundhouse that rises about 1.5 metres above the ground. Originally animists, now most of the 200,000 strong population have converted to Christianity.


Some 130,000 or 6% of the population of Sarawak are Melanau, believed to be among the original people to settle in Sarawak. Their language has different origins to the other ethnic groups of the state and today they are found mainly along the rivers and coastal plains of central Sarawak. Originally animists most have converted to Islam although some of the inland communities are Christian.

Orang Ulu

27 of the inland tribal groups of Sarawak are collectively called Orang Ulu or upriver people. A total estimated population of around 100,000 people belong to tribes varied in size from 300 to 25,000 individuals.

Arguably Borneo's most artistic people, their large longhouses are ornately decorated with murals and superb woodcarvings; their utensils are embellished with intricate beadwork. Traditional tattoos are a very important part of their culture; aristocratic Orang Ulu ladies also cover their arms and legs with finely detailed tattoos.

The aboriginal Penan people are also included as Orang Ulu by government census but the Penan are traditionally nomadic people living in small family groups constantly moving from place to place within the rainforest. Today most of the estimated 16,000 Penan people have settled in longhouse communities where their children have the chance to go to school. Like the Iban and Bidayuh, most of the Orang Ulu have converted from animism to Christianity or Islam.

Adapted from


Business & Trade

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Malaysia’s market-oriented economy integrated with supportive government policies and a large local business community that’s ready to do business with international corporations has made Malaysia a highly competitive manufacturing and export base. With the legal and accounting practices being derived from the familiar British system, coupled with a large pool of young, educated and trainable workforce, Malaysia is perfectly positioned for corporations to get involved in.

Chambers of Commerce and Industry

Newcomers to Malaysia's business scene will feel at home with the presence of the various chambers of commerce and trade associations made up of corporations from different countries. These oganisations are invaluable sources for general business information, advice and assistance, and complement the role of government agencies such as MIDA.

The major organisations, are the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI), Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), the Japanese Chamber of Trade and Industry (JACTIM), and American-Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), as well as several trade associations such as the Malaysian-American Electronics Industry (MAEI) Group.

Developed Financial Facilities

A well-developed financial and banking sector has enhanced Malaysia's position as a dynamic export base in Asia. Sophisticated financial facilities are available through domestic and foreign commercial banks and their nationwide network of branches. There are also representative offices of several foreign banks that have established their presence in the region. The commercial banks, investment banks and Islamic banks are mojor sources of financing to support economic activities in Malaysia.

The non-bank financial intermediaries, comprising development financial institutions, provident and pension fund insurance companies, and takaful operators complement the banking institutions in mobilising savings and meeting the financial needs of the economy.

Malaysia has also emerged at the forefront in the development of Islamic finance and has a comprehensive and vibrant Islamic financial system which includes Islamic Banking, Islamic Capital Market, Takaful and Retakaful, and Islamic Interbank Money Market.

Exporters in Malaysia can also take advantage of the credit facilities, export insurance cover and guarantees, offered by the Export-Import Bank of Malaysia Berhad (EXIM Bank). To complement Malaysia's financial system, the government has established the Labuan International Business and Financial Centre (Labuan IBFC) on the island of Labuan located off the north-west coast of Borneo.

Companies in Labuan enjoy minimal taxes as well as confidentiality. To-date, more than 2,700 offshore companies have commence operations in Labuan. These include offshore banks, trust companies, and insurance and insurance related companies. The Labuan Financial Services Authority (Labuan FSA) is a one-stop body that spearheads and coordinates the development of Labuan IBFC.

Local Vendors

Over the last three decades, Malaysia has developed a large pool of ancillary and supporting industries that was initiated with the entry of MNCs into the country. These MNCs, especially those which pursued active vendor development programmes, have contributed greatly towards the development of local small-and-medium scale industries (SMIs) that are highly competent and competitive with some even penetrating export markets.

Joint-Venture Partners in Malaysia

Most large Malaysian companies have been involved in trade and industry for generations, and many have excelled in international and regional markets. Thus, foreign investors seeking joint-venture partners in Malaysia will be able to select from a wide range of companies to find one that matches their needs. MIDA also assists foreign investors in business match-making to start joint-venture projects or to undertake contract manufacturing.

Adapted from http://www.mida.gov.my

Business Centre

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Malaysia is embarking upon a new phase of development towards realizing its aspiration of becoming a developed nation by 2020. Given the changing domestic and global economic landscape, initiatives to enhance national competitiveness and resilience will be given priority.

One major thrust of the country's Development Plan is to move the economy up the value chain, and inherent to this is the need to develop more innovation driven enterprises.

With growing interest by foreign companies and entrepreneurs in doing business in Malaysia, the Malaysian economy is set to grow at a considerable rate over the next few years. With a strong and vibrant economy and several business opportunities, there are many advantages of doing business in the country, some of which are as follows:

1) Stable Economy
2) Educated Workforce
3) Pro-Active Government
4) Improving Infrastructure

Visit MATRADE (Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation) and MITI (Ministry of International Trade and Industry) for more information.



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