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Introduction to Malaysia

by Chris Ezeh

By Ibrahim Hamid Alkali
Malaysia is located in the heart of South East Asia. It is situated within longitudes 100 to 119 Degrees East; and 1 and 7 Degrees North. It is composed of the two regions of what is popularly known and called “Peninsular Malaysia” (forming a proper Peninsular area).

This extends from the South of Thailand, “Kra Isthmus”, to Johor and Sarawak Straits. The second region is Sabah and Sarawak, which is on Borneo’s North Western Coast. These two distinct regions are separated by the South China sea, which extends to almost 750 kilometers.

Peninsular Malaysia consists of the “Banjaran Titiwangsa” main range in the West and East Coasts. This range extends through “Negeri Sembilan”, a Southern Malaysian State, to the Northern Malaysian border with Thailand. The geographically rugged Sabah and Sarawak States have an extensive mountain range. The highest mountain point and peak not only in Malaysia but also in the whole of South East Asia is Mount Kinabalu, with a height of 4,092.2 Meters.

The Malaysian polity is a Constitutional Monarchy model of parliamentary democracy, with the Monarch being the supreme constitutional Head of the country. However, like in the case of Briain, the Prime Minister is the Head of Government. Just like in the case of the United States and Nigeria, the principle of separation of powers is also enshrined in the Malaysian Federal Constitution, with a clearly distinct Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Arms of Government. In Malaysia, such a principle of Federalism of separation of powers occurs not only at the Federal level, but also at the State levels.

Malaysia is not only a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country like Nigeria, but also a multi-racial and multi-religious society. The ethnic groups are composed of Malays (who constitute the majority, with about 55% or more of the population); Chinese (about 30%); and Indians (about 7%); while the remaining 8% of the Malaysian population include the indigeneous “Orang Asli” Malaysians. This includes among others the Bidayahs, Bisayas, Ibans, Kadazans Kayans, Kelabits,Kenyahs, Melanans, and Muruts, as well as Eurasians.

Malaysia currently has a total population of about 25 Million. The Language of the Malaysians is Malay, otherwise popularly known as “Bahasa Melayu” or Bahasa Malaysia”. It is both the official and national language of the country, i.e. Malaysia’s lingua franca. But English is generally commonly and widely spoken, especially in Industry, Commerce, and Tourism. However, Other Asian Languages and dialects, including Chinese Mandarin, and its other dialects of Cantonese, Hainanese, Hakku, Hokkien, and Teochew, are widely spoken.The Indian Hindi Language and its various dialects of Tamil, Malayalam, Punjabi, Telegu, Urdu, and Gujerati, are also widely spoken.

Although Islam is the official religion of Malaysia as enshrined in the Malaysian Federal Constitution, the freedom of worship in the multi-religious and multi-racial Malaysian society allows its citizens to practice Christianity, Bhuddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism.

The Malaysian Government has thus far successfully implemented four 5-year development plans, with effect from 1971, apart from the initial situation prior to the New Economic Policy (NEP) initiative introduced by the Malaysian Government in the Second Malaysia Plan in 1979.

The fifth Malaysia Development Plan from 1986 to 1990 ended in 1990. The NEP programme was introduced by the Malaysian Government for the purpose of fostering national unity and promotion of economic growth and equity among the multi-racial Malaysian society. The NEP was later replaced by the 10-year National Development Policy (NDP) from 1990-2000.

Under the NDP, apart from the NEP objectives of fostering national unity and promotion of growth and equity, the Malaysian Government also seeks to attain and sustain a more balanced development, as well as more unity and equity; and promote more political and social stability.

Under the current “Vision 2020” of Malaysia, the country plans and hopes that by the Year 2020 it will achieve the desired and enviable status of a developed and industrialised nation in all respects — especially economically and politically.

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