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Cities in MALAYSIA

Kuala lumpur


In 1957, Malaysia became independent after more than four centuries of colonial influence, respectively domination by Portugal, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Especially the English period since 1824 has left its traces, as can be seen, among others, in the use of English as a second language and the legal system. Portugal and the Netherlands were particularly interested in the important trade hub of Malacca. The English, however, gradually extended their influence from the island of Penang over practically the whole peninsula. For the tin mines and plantations, many workers were recruited from southern China and southern India.

After the Japanese occupation during the Second World War, a powerful communist guerrilla movement emerged. At the same time, Malaysian activists sought independence by peaceful means. The granting of independence in 1957 by the United Kingdom to the Federation of Peninsular States was an important means of countering the insurgency. In 1963, the states of Sarawak and Sabah from the former British North Borneo were added to the Federation, as was Singapore, which seceded in 1965.

The incorporation of Sarawak and Sabah into the federation led to a serious dispute with Indonesia in the 1960s, the Konfrontasi, but this ended with the arrival of President Suharto.

In the federal state of Malaysia, the Malays are the largest population group; they profess Islam, which is therefore the main religion. Church and federal state are, however, separated. In some states, the influence of Islam is greater than on a national level. The population of the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak consists mainly of indigenous, nonMalay Christian groups.

Harmony between the three largest population groups is an important policy objective. It is against this background that politics since independence has been characterised by consensus and thus coalition building on a broad ethnic basis. This has led to political coalitions of which the largest Malay party, the UMNO (United Malays National Organisation), the MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association) and the MIC (Malaysian Indian Congress) form the most important components. This coalition, the 'Barisan Nasional', has had a majority in parliament since independence.

In 1969, however, serious Malaysian-Chinese racial unrest shook the country. In response, a policy of positive discrimination towards the Bumiputra ('sons of the land'), particularly the Malay population, was developed.

In an attempt to distance himself from radical Islam, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has launched the concept of Islam Hadari (Civilising Islam). It is mainly characterised by the idea of progress. In March 2004, Abdullah won the elections by a large margin. In December 2004, Malaysia and a large number of neighbouring countries were hit by a tsunami. In the March 2008 elections, Badawi loses his two-thirds majority; in July 2008, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is arrested on alleged charges of sodomy. Due to the global economic crisis, Malaysia decided in January 2009 that foreign workers could no longer be recruited.

In April 2009, Badawi resigned as Prime Minister and was succeeded by Najib Abdul Razak. In August 2010, the decision to allow underage marriage is criticised by women's groups. Elections are held in May 2013 and the ruling coalition remains in power. In 2014, Malaysian Airlines has to deal with two very serious plane crashes First, flight MH370 disappears from the radar in March and in July, flight MH17 is shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing 194 Dutch people. In 2015 and 2016, Malaysia gains a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. In December 2016, Sultan Muhammed V is sworn in. In February 2017, Kin Jong-nam the brother of the North Korean leader is assassinated at a Malaysian airport.

Sultan Abdullah of Pahang was sworn in in January 2019, following the unprecedented abdication (normally the Sultanate changes every five years) of his predecessor Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan. Prime Minister Mahathir and a newly formed coalition of opposition parties defeated Prime Minister Mohamed Najib bin Abdul Razak's United Malaysian National Organisation (UMNO) in May 2018, ending more than 60 years of uninterrupted rule by UMNO. Mahathir resigned in February 2020 over a political dispute. Sultan Abdullah then chose Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin as the new prime minister. He resigned in August 2021 after losing a majority in parliament. King Abdullah then chose Ismail Sabri Yakoob to succeed him.


Elmar Landeninformatie

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
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