East & Southeast Asia :: Malaysia

Introduction ::Malaysia

    During the late 18th and 19th centuries, Great Britain established colonies and protectorates in the area of current Malaysia; these were occupied by Japan from 1942 to 1945. In 1948, the British-ruled territories on the Malay Peninsula except Singapore formed the Federation of Malaya, which became independent in 1957. Malaysia was formed in 1963 when the former British colonies of Singapore, as well as Sabah and Sarawak on the northern coast of Borneo, joined the Federation. The first several years of the country's independence were marred by a communist insurgency, Indonesian confrontation with Malaysia, Philippine claims to Sabah, and Singapore's withdrawal in 1965. During the 22-year term of Prime Minister MAHATHIR bin Mohamad (1981-2003), Malaysia was successful in diversifying its economy from dependence on exports of raw materials to the development of manufacturing, services, and tourism. Prime Minister Mohamed NAJIB bin Abdul Razak (in office since April 2009) has continued these pro-business policies and has introduced some civil reforms.

Geography ::Malaysia

People and Society ::Malaysia

    noun: Malaysian(s)
    adjective: Malaysian
    Malay 50.4%, Chinese 23.7%, indigenous 11%, Indian 7.1%, others 7.8% (2004 est.)
    Bahasa Malaysia (official), English, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai
    note: in East Malaysia there are several indigenous languages; most widely spoken are Iban and Kadazan
    Muslim (or Islam - official) 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 2.6%, other or unknown 1.5%, none 0.8% (2000 census)
    29,628,392 (July 2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 43
    0-14 years: 29.1% (male 4,433,911/female 4,186,635)
    15-24 years: 17% (male 2,552,709/female 2,487,366)
    25-54 years: 41.3% (male 6,195,754/female 6,027,160)
    55-64 years: 7.4% (male 1,112,529/female 1,069,036)
    65 years and over: 5.3% (male 739,696/female 823,596) (2013 est.)
    total dependency ratio: 45.9 %
    youth dependency ratio: 38.1 %
    elderly dependency ratio: 7.8 %
    potential support ratio: 12.8 (2013)
    total: 27.4 years
    male: 27.2 years
    female: 27.6 years (2013 est.)
    1.51% (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 80
    20.41 births/1,000 population (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 84
    4.97 deaths/1,000 population (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 185
    -0.35 migrant(s)/1,000 population
    country comparison to the world: 130
    note: does not reflect net flow of an unknown number of illegal immigrants from other countries in the region (2013 est.)
    urban population: 72.8% of total population (2011)
    rate of urbanization: 2.49% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
    KUALA LUMPUR (capital) 1.493 million; Klang 1.071 million; Johor Bahru 958,000 (2009)
    at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2013 est.)
    29 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 126
    total: 14.12 deaths/1,000 live births
    country comparison to the world: 118
    male: 16.32 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 11.77 deaths/1,000 live births (2013 est.)
    total population: 74.28 years
    country comparison to the world: 112
    male: 71.51 years
    female: 77.24 years (2013 est.)
    2.61 children born/woman (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 78
    49% (2004)
    4.4% of GDP (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 156
    0.94 physicians/1,000 population (2008)
    1.8 beds/1,000 population (2010)
    urban: 100% of population
    rural: 99% of population
    total: 100% of population
    urban: 0% of population
    rural: 1% of population
    total: 0% of population (2010 est.)
    urban: 96% of population
    rural: 95% of population
    total: 96% of population
    urban: 4% of population
    rural: 5% of population
    total: 4% of population (2010 est.)
    0.5% (2009 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 65
    100,000 (2009 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 41
    5,800 (2009 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 34
    degree of risk: intermediate
    food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea
    vectorborne diseases: dengue fever
    water contact disease: leptospirosis
    note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2013)
    14% (2008)
    country comparison to the world: 123
    12.9% (2006)
    country comparison to the world: 58
    5.1% of GDP (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 70
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 93.1%
    male: 95.4%
    female: 90.7% (2010 est.)
    total: 13 years
    male: 12 years
    female: 13 years (2005)
    total: 11.3% (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 103

Government ::Malaysia

    conventional long form: none
    conventional short form: Malaysia
    local long form: none
    local short form: Malaysia
    former: Federation of Malaya
    constitutional monarchy
    note: nominally headed by paramount ruler (commonly referred to as the king) and a bicameral Parliament consisting of a nonelected upper house and an elected lower house; all Peninsular Malaysian states have hereditary rulers (commonly referred to as sultans) except Melaka (Malacca) and Pulau Pinang (Penang); those two states along with Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia have governors appointed by government; powers of state governments are limited by federal constitution; under terms of federation, Sabah and Sarawak retain certain constitutional prerogatives (e.g., right to maintain their own immigration controls)
    name: Kuala Lumpur
    geographic coordinates: 3 10 N, 101 42 E
    time difference: UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    note: Putrajaya is referred to as an administrative center not the capital; Parliament meets in Kuala Lumpur
    13 states (negeri-negeri, singular - negeri); Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Pulau Pinang, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor, Terengganu; and 1 federal territory (Wilayah Persekutuan) with 3 components, Kuala Lumpur, Labuan, and Putrajaya
    31 August 1957 (from the UK)
    Independence Day 31 August (1957) (independence of Malaya); Malaysia Day 16 September (1963) (formation of Malaysia)
    31 August 1957; amended many times
    mixed legal system of English common law, Islamic law, and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court at request of supreme head of the federation
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
    21 years of age; universal
    chief of state: King Tuanku ABDUL HALIM Mu'adzam Shah (selected on 13 December 2011; installed on 11 April 2012); the position of the king is primarily ceremonial
    head of government: Prime Minister Mohamed NAJIB bin Abdul Najib Razak (since 3 April 2009); Deputy Prime Minister MUHYIDDIN bin Mohamed Yassin (since 9 April 2009)
    cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister from among the members of Parliament with consent of the king
    (For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
    elections: kings are elected by and from the hereditary rulers of nine of the states for five-year terms; selection is based on the principle of rotation among rulers of states; elections were last held on 14 October 2011 (next to be held in 2016); prime ministers are designated from among the members of the House of Representatives; following legislative elections, the leader who commands the support of the majority of members in the House becomes prime minister (since independence this has been the leader of the UMNO party)
    election results: Tuanku Abdul HALIM Mu'adzam Shah elected king by fellow hereditary rulers of nine states; Mohamed NAJIB bin Abdul Najib Razak was sworn in as prime minister after former Prime Minister ABDULLAH Ahmad Badawi stepped down; ABDULLAH also stepped down as UMNO president; there was no party election for the post of president; the party passed the reins to NAJIB who was the deputy president
    bicameral Parliament or Parlimen consists of Senate or Dewan Negara (70 seats; 44 members appointed by the king, 26 elected by 13 state legislatures to serve three-year terms with a two term limit) and House of Representatives or Dewan Rakyat (222 seats; members elected in 222 constituencies in a first-pass-the-post system to serve up to five-year terms)
    elections: House of Representatives - last held on 5 May 2013 (next to be held by May 2018)
    election results: House of Representatives - percent of vote - BN coalition 59.9%, opposition parties 40%, others 0.1%; seats - BN coalition 133, opposition parties 89
    highest court(s): Federal Court (consists of the chief justice and 4 judges)
    note - Malaysia has a dual judicial hierarchy of civil and religious (sharia) courts
    judge selection and term of office: Federal Court justices appointed by the monarch on advice of the prime minister; judges serve till age 65
    subordinate courts: Court of Appeal; High Court; Sessions Court; Magistrates' Court
    National Front (Barisan Nasional) or BN (ruling coalition) consists of the following parties:
    Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia Party or GERAKAN [KOH Tsu Koon]
    Liberal Democratic Party (Parti Liberal Demokratik - Sabah) or LDP [LIEW Vui Keong]
    Malaysian Chinese Association (Persatuan China Malaysia) or MCA [CHUA Soi Lek]
    Malaysian Indian Congress (Kongres India Malaysia) or MIC [Govindasamy PALANIVEL]
    Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah or PBRS [Joseph KURUP]
    Parti Bersatu Sabah or PBS [Joseph PAIRIN Kitingan]
    Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu or PBB [Abdul TAIB Mahmud]
    Parti Rakyat Sarawak or PRS [James MASING]
    Sarawak United People's Party (Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sarawak) or SUPP [Peter CHIN Fah Kui]
    United Malays National Organization or UMNO [NAJIB bin Abdul Razak]
    United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organization (Pertubuhan Pasko Momogun Kadazan Dusun Bersatu) or UPKO [Bernard DOMPOK]
    People's Progressive Party (Parti Progresif Penduduk Malaysia) or PPP [M.Kayveas]
    People's Alliance (Pakatan Rakyat) or PR (opposition coalition) consists of the following parties:
    Democratic Action Party (Parti Tindakan Demokratik) or DAP [KARPAL Singh]
    Islamic Party of Malaysia (Parti Islam se Malaysia) or PAS [Abdul HADI Awang
    People's Justice Party (Parti Keadilan Rakyat) or PKR [WAN AZIZAH Wan Ismail]
    Sarawak National Party or SNAP [Edwin DUNDANG]
    notable independent parties:
    Sabah Progressive Party (Parti Progresif Sabah) or SAPP [YONG Teck Lee]
    State Reform Pary (Parti Reformasi Negeri) or STAR [Jeffery KITINGAN]
    Bar Council
    BERSIH (electoral reform coalition)
    PEMBELA (Muslim NGO coalition)
    PERKASA (defense of Malay rights)
    other: religious groups; women's groups; youth groups
    chief of mission: Ambassador OTHMAN Bin Hashim
    chancery: 3516 International Court NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 572-9700
    FAX: [1] (202) 572-9882
    consulate(s) general: Los Angeles, New York
    chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Lee MCCLENNY
    embassy: 376 Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur
    mailing address: US Embassy Kuala Lumpur, APO AP 96535-8152
    telephone: [60] (3) 2168-5000
    FAX: [60] (3) 2148-5801
    14 equal horizontal stripes of red (top) alternating with white (bottom); there is a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing a yellow crescent and a yellow 14-pointed star; the flag is often referred to as Jalur Gemilang (Stripes of Glory); the 14 stripes stand for the equal status in the federation of the 13 member states and the federal government; the 14 points on the star represent the unity between these entities; the crescent is a traditional symbol of Islam; blue symbolizes the unity of the Malay people and yellow is the royal color of Malay rulers
    note: the design is based on the flag of the US
    name: "Negaraku" (My Country)

    lyrics/music: collective, led by Tunku ABDUL RAHMAN/Pierre Jean DE BERANGER
    note: adopted 1957; the full version is only performed in the presence of the king; the tune, which was adopted from a popular French melody titled "La Rosalie," was originally the anthem of the state of Perak

Economy ::Malaysia

    Malaysia, a middle-income country, has transformed itself since the 1970s from a producer of raw materials into an emerging multi-sector economy. Under current Prime Minister NAJIB, Malaysia is attempting to achieve high-income status by 2020 and to move farther up the value-added production chain by attracting investments in Islamic finance, high technology industries, biotechnology, and services. NAJIB's Economic Transformation Program (ETP) is a series of projects and policy measures intended to accelerate the country's economic growth. The government has also taken steps to liberalize some services sub-sectors. The NAJIB administration also is continuing efforts to boost domestic demand and reduce the economy''s dependence on exports. Nevertheless, exports - particularly of electronics, oil and gas, palm oil and rubber - remain a significant driver of the economy. As an oil and gas exporter, Malaysia has profited from higher world energy prices, although the rising cost of domestic gasoline and diesel fuel, combined with strained government finances, has forced Kuala Lumpur to begin to reduce government subsidies. The government is also trying to lessen its dependence on state oil producer Petronas. The oil and gas sector supplies about 35% of government revenue in 2011. Bank Negera Malaysia (central bank) maintains healthy foreign exchange reserves, and a well-developed regulatory regime has limited Malaysia''s exposure to riskier financial instruments and the global financial crisis. Nevertheless, Malaysia could be vulnerable to a fall in commodity prices or a general slowdown in global economic activity because exports are a major component of GDP. In order to attract increased investment, NAJIB has raised possible revisions to the special economic and social preferences accorded to ethnic Malays under the New Economic Policy of 1970, but he has encountered significant opposition, especially from Malay nationalists and other vested interests.
    $506.7 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 30
    $479.7 billion (2011 est.)
    $456.5 billion (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    $303.5 billion (2012 est.)
    5.6% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 50
    5.1% (2011 est.)
    7.2% (2010 est.)
    $17,200 (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 78
    $16,600 (2011 est.)
    $16,000 (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    34% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 16
    34.3% of GDP (2011 est.)
    34.3% of GDP (2010 est.)
    household consumption: 48.9%
    government consumption: 13.5%
    investment in fixed capital: 25.7%
    investment in inventories: 0.1%
    exports of goods and services: 87.1%
    imports of goods and services: -75.3%
    (2012 est.)
    agriculture: 11.4%
    industry: 40.2%
    services: 48.3% (2012 est.)
    Peninsular Malaysia - palm oil, rubber, cocoa, rice; Sabah - palm oil, subsistence crops; rubber, timber; Sarawak - palm oil, rubber, timber; pepper
    Peninsular Malaysia - rubber and oil palm processing and manufacturing, petroleum and natural gas, light manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, medical technology, electronics and semi-conductors, timber processing; Sabah - logging, petroleum and natural gas production; Sarawak - agriculture processing, petroleum and natural gas production, logging
    3.8% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 75
    12.9 million (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 42
    agriculture: 11.1%
    industry: 36%
    services: 53.5% (2012 est.)
    3% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 24
    3.1% (2011 est.)
    3.8% (2009 est.)
    lowest 10%: 1.8%
    highest 10%: 34.7% (2009 est.)
    46.2 (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 33
    49.2 (1997)
    revenues: $67.31 billion
    expenditures: $80.89 billion (2012 est.)
    22.2% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 148
    -4.5% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 157
    53.3% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 55
    51.6% of GDP (2011 est.)
    note: this figure is based on the amount of federal government debt, RM501.6 billion ($167.2 billion) in 2012; this includes Malaysian Treasury bills and other government securities, as well as loans raised externally and bonds and notes issued overseas; this figure excludes debt issued by non-financial public enterprises and guaranteed by the federal government, which was an additional $47.7 billion in 2012
    calendar year
    1.7% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 33
    3.2% (2011 est.)
    note: approximately 30% of goods are price-controlled
    3% (31 December 2011)
    country comparison to the world: 107
    2.83% (31 December 2010)
    4.7% (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 160
    4.83% (31 December 2011 est.)
    $93.89 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 36
    $81.28 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $458.5 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 23
    $382.2 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $410.3 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 29
    $354.6 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $414 billion (31 December 2011)
    country comparison to the world: 23
    $410.5 billion (31 December 2010)
    $256 billion (31 December 2009)
    $22.8 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 16
    $32.03 billion (2011 est.)
    $247 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 24
    $227.6 billion (2011 est.)
    semiconductors and electronic equipment, palm oil, petroleum and liquefied natural gas, wood and wood products, palm oil, rubber, textiles, chemicals, solar panels
    Singapore 13.6%, China 12.6%, Japan 11.8%, US 8.7%, Thailand 5.4%, Hong Kong 4.3%, India 4.2%, Australia 4.1% (2012)
    $181.6 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 27
    $179.2 billion (2011 est.)
    electronics, machinery, petroleum products, plastics, vehicles, iron and steel products, chemicals
    China 15.1%, Singapore 13.3%, Japan 10.3%, US 8.1%, Thailand 6%, Indonesia 5.1%, South Korea 4.1% (2012)
    $139.7 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 20
    $133.6 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $99.93 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 48
    $94.47 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $125.5 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 36
    $114.6 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $119.2 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 27
    $106.2 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    ringgits (MYR) per US dollar -
    3.0888 (2012 est.)
    3.06 (2011 est.)
    3.22 (2010 est.)
    3.52 (2009)
    3.33 (2008)

Energy ::Malaysia

Communications ::Malaysia

    4.243 million (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 40
    36.661 million (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 30
    general assessment: modern system featuring good intercity service on Peninsular Malaysia provided mainly by microwave radio relay and an adequate intercity microwave radio relay network between Sabah and Sarawak via Brunei; international service excellent
    domestic: domestic satellite system with 2 earth stations; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity roughly 140 per 100 persons
    international: country code - 60; landing point for several major international submarine cable networks that provide connectivity to Asia, Middle East, and Europe; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Indian Ocean, 1 Pacific Ocean) (2011)
    state-owned TV broadcaster operates 2 TV networks with relays throughout the country, and the leading private commercial media group operates 4 TV stations with numerous relays throughout the country; satellite TV subscription service is available; state-owned radio broadcaster operates multiple national networks as well as regional and local stations; many private commercial radio broadcasters and some subscription satellite radio services are available; about 55 radio stations overall (2012)
    422,470 (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 53
    15.355 million (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 26

Transportation ::Malaysia

    114 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 51
    total: 39
    over 3,047 m: 8
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 7
    914 to 1,523 m: 8
    under 914 m: 8 (2013)
    total: 75
    914 to 1,523 m: 6
    under 914 m:
    69 (2013)
    4 (2013)
    condensate 354 km; gas 6,439 km; liquid petroleum gas 155 km; oil 1,937 km; oil/gas/water 43 km; refined products 114 km; water 26 km (2013)
    total: 1,849 km
    country comparison to the world: 75
    standard gauge: 57 km 1.435-m gauge (57 km electrified)
    narrow gauge: 1,792 km 1.000-m gauge (150 km electrified) (2008)
    total: 98,721 km
    country comparison to the world: 44
    paved: 80,280 km (includes 1,821 km of expressways)
    unpaved: 18,441 km (2004)
    7,200 km (Peninsular Malaysia 3,200 km; Sabah 1,500 km; Sarawak 2,500 km) (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 20
    total: 315
    country comparison to the world: 31
    by type: bulk carrier 11, cargo 83, carrier 2, chemical tanker 47, container 41, liquefied gas 34, passenger/cargo 4, petroleum tanker 86, roll on/roll off 2, vehicle carrier 5
    foreign-owned: 26 (Denmark 1, Hong Kong 8, Japan 2, Russia 2, Singapore 13)
    registered in other countries: 82 (Bahamas 13, India 1, Indonesia 1, Isle of Man 6, Malta 1, Marshall Islands 11, Panama 12, Papua New Guinea 1, Philippines 1, Saint Kitts and Nevis 1, Singapore 27, Thailand 3, US 2, unknown 2) (2010)
    Bintulu, Johor Bahru, George Town (Penang), Port Kelang (Port Klang), Tanjung Pelepas
    the International Maritime Bureau reports that the territorial and offshore waters in the Strait of Malacca and South China Sea remain high risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships; in the past, commercial vessels have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; hijacked vessels are often disguised and cargo diverted to ports in East Asia; crews have been murdered or cast adrift; increased naval patrols since 2005 in the Strait of Malacca resulted in no reported incidents in 2010

Military ::Malaysia

Transnational Issues ::Malaysia

    while the 2002 "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea" has eased tensions over the Spratly Islands, it is not the legally binding "code of conduct" sought by some parties; Malaysia was not party to the March 2005 joint accord among the national oil companies of China, the Philippines, and Vietnam on conducting marine seismic activities in the Spratly Islands; disputes continue over deliveries of fresh water to Singapore, Singapore's land reclamation, bridge construction, and maritime boundaries in the Johor and Singapore Straits; in 2008, ICJ awarded sovereignty of Pedra Branca (Pulau Batu Puteh/Horsburgh Island) to Singapore, and Middle Rocks to Malaysia, but did not rule on maritime regimes, boundaries, or disposition of South Ledge; land and maritime negotiations with Indonesia are ongoing, and disputed areas include the controversial Tanjung Datu and Camar Wulan border area in Borneo and the maritime boundary in the Ambalat oil block in the Celebes Sea; separatist violence in Thailand's predominantly Muslim southern provinces prompts measures to close and monitor border with Malaysia to stem terrorist activities; Philippines retains a dormant claim to Malaysia's Sabah State in northern Borneo; per Letters of Exchange signed in 2009, Malaysia in 2010 ceded two hydrocarbon concession blocks to Brunei in exchange for Brunei's sultan dropping claims to the Limbang corridor, which divides Brunei; piracy remains a problem in the Malacca Strait
    refugees (country of origin): 84,671 (Burma) (2012)
    stateless persons: 40,001 (2012); note - Malaysia's stateless population consists of Rohingya refugees from Burma, ethnic Indians, and the children of Filipino and Indonesian illegal migrants; Burma stripped the Rohingya of their nationality in 1982; Filipino and Indonesian children who have not have been registered for birth certificates by their parents or who received birth certificates stamped "foreigner" are not eligible to go to government schools; these children are vulnerable to statelessness should they not be able to apply to their parents' country of origin for a passport
    current situation: Malaysia is a destination and, to a lesser extent, a source and transit country for women and children subjected to conditions of forced labor and women and children subjected to sex trafficking; Malaysia is mainly a destination country for foreign workers who migrate willingly from countries including Indonesia, Nepal, India, Thailand, China, the Philippines, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Vietnam but subsequently encounter forced labor or debt bondage at the hands of their employers in the domestic, agricultural, construction, plantation, and industrial sectors; a small number of Malaysian citizens were reportedly trafficked internally and abroad to Singapore, China, and Japan for commercial sexual exploitation; refugees are also vulnerable to trafficking; some officials are reportedly complicit in facilitating trafficking
    tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Malaysia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; the government has made no tangible improvements to its inadequate system for identifying and protecting trafficking victims, such as amending its laws to allow victims to reside in NGO shelters; trafficking victims identified by Malaysian authorities are forcibly detained in government facilities, where they are provided with limited, if any, access to legal or psychological assistance by the government or NGOs; increasing efforts are being made to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders, notably in the area of labor trafficking, though convictions of sex trafficking offenders has decreased; many front-line officials continue to lack the ability to recognize indicators of human trafficking, hindering the investigation of cases and the identification of victims; although the confiscation of passports by employers is illegal, the government has not prosecuted any employers who confiscated migrants' passports or travel documents or confined them to the workplace (2013)
    drug trafficking prosecuted vigorously and carries severe penalties; heroin still primary drug of abuse, but synthetic drug demand remains strong; continued ecstasy and methamphetamine producer for domestic users and, to a lesser extent, the regional drug market