Venerable Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda
As a monk I found Venerable Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda a wonderful person to talk to. He was a friendly chap and everytime I would turn up he always had a room ready for me. He would always include me in everything and will be well missed by the Buddhist community.
Brickfields Maha Vihara Buddhist Temple
Brickfields is a small to medium-sized town and residential neighborhood (as well as an administrative zone) located just outside central Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is known as Kuala Lumpur's Little India due to the high percentage of Indian residents and businesses.
The Buddhist Maha Vihara is located in an old settlement area called Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur. During the early day of Kuala Lumpur this area was a large clay pit famous for the production of quality bricks. That was how it got the name Brickfields. Now the clay pit is gone replacing it are rows and rows of buildings and houses. This area is now officially renamed as Tun Sambanthan. However many people in Kuala Lumpur still refer to it as Brickfields.
During the 1890s the Sinhalese community in Kuala Lumpur formed the first Theravada society International Buddhist pagoda -- old look known as the Sasana Abhiwurdhi Wardhana Society or SAWS in Brickfields. Its original purpose was to provide a place to practice Buddhism for the immigrants brought in from Ceylon by the British Administration to develop the colonial Malayan Civil Service. For many years the premises of the Sasana Abhiwurdhi Wardhana Society was commonly referred to as the Brickfields Buddhist Temple. The official name now is Buddhist Maha Vihara however many local folks still call it the Brickfields Buddhist Temple in various local dialects.
Bodhi TreeIn the last 50 years under the leadership of Venerable Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda the Brickfields Buddhist Temple has become the Brickfields Buddhist Maha Vihara of today. Venerable Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda came to Malaysia in 1952 at the age of 32. After arriving in Malaysia Venerable Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda envisioned the need for proper facilities and the right environment for the Malaysian Buddhist Community to practice Buddhism. With that vision he set upon himself a mission to create the appropriate environment and condition for the Buddhist community in Malaysia. Thanks to Venerable Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda's dedication, determination and effort. The Buddhist Maha Vihara is now a major Buddhist Community CentreInternational Buddhist Pagoda in Kuala Lumpur as well as in Malaysia.
The SAWS or Sasana Abhiwurdhi Wardhana Society manage all activities and facilities in the Brickfields Buddhist Maha Vihara. Other than the Sasana Abhiwurdhi Wardhana Society, the Brickfields Buddhist Maha Vihara is also home to other Buddhist Societies sharing the same objectives as SAWS. These include the Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia and their affiliated, the World Fellowship of Buddhist(Selangor) Regional Centre and the Buddhist Monks Training Centre.
Wisma Dharma Cakra is the largest building in Brickfields Buddhist Maha Vihara. A large outdoor Lord buddha statue stands at the top floor of Wisma Dharma Cakra overseeing the whole Buddhist Maha Vihara. The ground floor of the building is the Dewan Asokan hall with a seating capacity of 800. The other floors above it are the studies center, resource center and libary.
The area soon became the centre for brick-making in the early days because the whole area was a clay pit and good quality bricks are made from clay. Therefore Brickfields became synonymous with good quality bricks.
Brickfields also used to be the site of the main depot for Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) (Malayan Railway) during the administration of the British. The British authorities brought in people from India to work the railway and the depot. Many lived in quarters around Brickfields. Since then the Indian community have lived and remained here and became citizens of Malaysia. Some of the old quarters can still be found around Jalan Rozario. Today the depot has been transformed into KL Sentral.
Brickfields is one of the pioneer settlements in Kuala Lumpur. Indeed, the whole stretch of Jalan Tun Sambanthan (formerly Jalan Brickfields) is interspersed with old colonial structures.
The Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB), located along Jalan Tebing, houses a number of blind people. Many blind people can be seen walking around Brickfields. Many have become familiar with the area that they rarely encounter much problem walking around here. Most parts of Brickfields are already equipped with tactile guided pathways designed to aid the blind in walking around the area.
The Temple of Fine Arts is located along Jalan Berhala. It is essentially a cultural organisation offering various courses relating to mainly Southern Indian music, dance, and arts. It was founded in 1981 and has currently similar centers in Johor Bahru, Melaka, Penang, as well as centers around the world including India, Australia and Singapore. Besides offering courses, the organization frequently organises Indian performances around Kuala Lumpur, and has produced many artists progressing to international standards.. They will be launching their state of art building soon which has been built upon the foundation of the old Temple of Fine Arts adjacent to the Maha Vihara Buddhist Temple. The new building will be symbolic icon to the progress of arts and culture in Brickfields.
The Sri Kandaswamy Temple is one of the most prominent Sri Lankan Tamil or Ceylonese Tamil temple located along Jalan Scott. It is huge and showcases rich Tamil architecture and has become a popular tourist attraction in Kuala Lumpur. This temple is 104 years old now. They provide religious services such as house warming ceremonies and child 31st day ceremony. The Kalamandapam hall which was officiated by the 2nd Prime Minister of Malaysia holds wedding ceremonies and is also owned by this temple.
Both the Sri Kandaswamy Temple and Buddhist Maha Vihara (Sinhalese) stand testament to the influence of Sri Lankan/Ceylonese influence on Brickfields.
A sprinkling of churches of different denominations can also be found here. Among the larger churches in the area are the Holy Rosary Church (est. 1903), Our Lady of Fatima, and the Zion Lutheran Church. Most of which are located along Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad. There is also an Indian orthodox church called the St. Mary's Orthodox Syrian Cathedral in Jalan Tun Sambanthan Satu.
There is a Surau (small mosque) located on Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad called Madrasatul Gouthiyyah. This mosque is mainly attended by Indian-Muslims, and the sermons are sometimes conducted in Tamil. Finally, another major landmark in Brickfields is the 50 year old Three Teachings Chinese Temple along Jalan Thambillay.
The Malaysian Institute of Accountant (MIA) headquarters can be found along Jalan Tun Sambanthan 3, which also contains a number of second tier audit firms scattered around. There are also plenty of law firms all over Brickfields area.
Being the Little India of Kuala Lumpur, it has numerous shops that are owned by Indian businessmen. There are spice shops, grocery outlets, sweet and snacks shops, textile shops, goldsmiths, hotels, restaurants, food stalls, printers and even flower stalls.
Infrastructure and Facilities
The rapid evolvement has left parts of Brickfields suspended in time. One can find small village type housing amidst the high-rise modern living complexes being constructed. There has been efforts to clean up the area of Brickfields outside the KL Sentral development area. Recently Brickfields' image as a notorious area with a high incidence of crime is slowly disappearing. There is also a few rows of shophouses at Jalan Thambipillay where prostitutes ply their trade.
The combination of the commercial activity, schools and residential traffic and Brickfields' location as one of the major access points into and out the city frequently results in bad traffic congestion in the mornings and evenings.
Kuala Lumpur often abbreviated as K.L., is the largest city of Malaysia. The city proper, making up an area of 244 km2 (94 sq mi), has an estimated population of 1.6 million in 2006. Greater Kuala Lumpur, also known as the Klang Valley, is an urban agglomeration of 7.2 million. It is the fastest growing metropolitan region in the country, in terms of population as well as economy.
Kuala Lumpur is the seat of the Parliament of Malaysia.Kuala Lumpur is also the 11th largest city in the world. The city was once home to the executive and judicial branches of the federal government, but they have since moved to Putrajaya starting in 1999. Some sections of the judiciary remain in the capital. The official residence of the Malaysian King, the Istana Negara, is also situated in Kuala Lumpur. The city is also the cultural and economic centre of Malaysia due to its position as the capital as well as being a primate city. Kuala Lumpur is rated as a gamma world city, and is the only global city in Malaysia.
Kuala Lumpur is defined within the borders of the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and is one of three Malaysian Federal Territories. It is an enclave within the state of Selangor, on the central west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Residents of the city are known as KLites.
Beginning in the 1990s, the city has played host to many international sporting, political and cultural events including the 1998 Commonwealth Games and the Formula One World Championship. In addition, Kuala Lumpur is home to the tallest twin buildings in the world, the Petronas Twin Towers.
These mines became a trading post and was considered a frontier town with many problems including the Selangor Civil War; it was also plagued by diseases and constant fires and floods. Around the 1870s, the Chinese Kapitan of Kuala Lumpur, Yap Ah Loy, emerged as leader, and became responsible for the survival and subsequent systematic growth of this town.He is the one who began to develop Kuala Lumpur from a small unknown place into a mining town with economic boom. In 1880, the state capital of Selangor was moved from Klang to the more strategically advantageous Kuala Lumpur.
In 1881, a flood swept through the town following a fire which engulfed it earlier. These successive problems destroyed the town's structures of wood and atap (thatching). As a response, Frank Swettenham, the British Resident of Selangor, required that buildings be constructed of brick and tile. Many of the new brick buildings mirrored that of shop houses in southern China, with "five foot ways" as well as skilled Chinese carpentry. This resulted in a distinct eclectic shop house architecture typical to this region. A railway line increased accessibility into this town. Development intensified in the 1890s, leading to the creation of a Sanitary Board. In 1896, Kuala Lumpur was chosen as the capital of the newly formed Federated Malay States.
A mixture of different communities settled in various sections of Kuala Lumpur. The Chinese mainly settled around the commercial centre of Market Square, east of Klang River, and towards Chinatown. The Malays, Indian Chettiars, and Indian Muslims resided along Java Street (now Jalan Tun Perak). The Padang, now known as Merdeka Square, was the center of the British administrative offices.
During World War II, Kuala Lumpur was captured by the Japanese army on January 11, 1942. They remained in occupation until August 15, 1945, when the commander in chief of the Japanese Seventh Area Army in Singapore and Malaya, Seishirō Itagaki, surrendered to the British administration following the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Kuala Lumpur grew through the war, the rubber and tin commodity crashes and the Malayan Emergency, during which Malaya was preoccupied with the communist insurgency. In 1957, the Federation of Malaya gained its independence from British rule. Kuala Lumpur remained the capital through the formation of Malaysia on September 16, 1963.
On May 13, 1969, one of the worst race riots in Malaysia took place in Kuala Lumpur. The May 13 Incident was a riot between the Malays and the Chinese who were dissatisfied with the socio-political situation at the time. The riot resulted in the deaths of 196 people, and led to a major reform in the country's economic policy.
Kuala Lumpur later achieved city status in 1972, becoming the first settlement in Malaysia to be granted the status after independence. Later, on February 1, 1974, Kuala Lumpur became a Federal Territory. Kuala Lumpur ceased to be the capital of Selangor in 1978 after the city of Shah Alam was declared as the new state capital.
In 1998, another political movement known as Reformasi took place mainly in this city. The movement was a result of the sacking of former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, and resulted in a chain of protests until 1999, where supporters of Anwar Ibrahim took to the streets to demand reforms in the government's administration, among others.
On February 1, 2001, Putrajaya was declared a Federal Territory, as well as the seat of the federal government. The administrative and judicial functions of the government were shifted from Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya. Kuala Lumpur however still retained its legislative function, and remained the home of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King).
Located in the center of Selangor state, Kuala Lumpur was previously under the rule of Selangor State Government. In 1974, Kuala Lumpur was separated from Selangor to form the first Federal Territory governed directly by the Malaysian Federal Government. Its location on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, which has wider flat land than the east coast, has contributed to its faster development relative to other cities in Malaysia.
The municipality of the city covers an area of 243.65 km2 (94.07 sq mi), with an average elevation of 21.95 m (72 ft).
Climate and weather
Flooding is a frequent occurrence in Kuala Lumpur whenever there is a heavy downpour, especially in the city centre and downstream areas. Dust particles from forest fires from nearby Sumatra sometimes cast a haze over the region. It is a major source of pollution in the city together with open burning, emission from motor vehicles and construction work.
Kuala Lumpur also has a mix of different cultures which include Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians, as well as Kadazans, Ibans and other indigenous races from East Malaysia and Peninsula Malaysia.
Kuala Lumpur's rapid development, triggered huge influx of foreign workers from Indonesia, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and China into Malaysia.
In the late-18th century, when Europe underwent Industrial Revolution, large groups of Chinese from Fujian and Guangdong in China were brought in to Malaya to work in the booming tin mining industry. The Chinese in Kuala Lumpur speak different dialects but the majority in Kuala Lumpur are of Cantonese descent, followed by the Hokkiens and the Hakkas.
Indians form 10% of the population in Kuala Lumpur (as in 2000), mostly practise Hinduism and speak Tamil and other Indian and Pakistani languages such as Hindi, Malayalam, Punjabi, Telugu and Pashtu. Historically, most of the Indians were brought in during the British colonisation of the Malaysia. Their popular festivals are Thaipusam, Deepavali and Pongal.
Islam is practised primarily by the Malays and the Indian Muslim communities. Other major religions are Hinduism (among Indians), Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism (mainly among Chinese) and Christianity. The city has many places of worship catering to the multi-religious population.
Based on the census of the Department of Statistics (see http://www.statistics.gov.my/eng/), the percentage of Bumiputera population in Kuala Lumpur alone was around 38% in 2000 (next census is in 2010) while the Chinese population comprised 43% and Indians 10%. A notable phenomenon has been the increase in the presence of foreign residents in Kuala Lumpur, who now constitute about 9% of the city’s population.
Crime in Kuala Lumpur has been a concern of residents in recent years. Among the crimes showing increasing rates were snatch theft, drug addiction, gambling and vice. These problems have been associated with the rising numbers of immigrants from Indonesia and Myanmar. Some of them are brought in with the promise of low to medium grade salary.
Since Kuala Lumpur became a Federal Territory of Malaysia on February 1, 1974, the city has been led by nine mayors. The current mayor of Kuala Lumpur is Dato' Ahmad Fuad Ismail, who is in his first term of office. He was appointed in 2008.
The city remains as the economic and business center of the country. In fact, the city is a center for finance, insurance, real estate, media and the arts of Malaysia. The infrastructure development in the surrounding areas such as the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at Sepang, the creation of the Multimedia Super Corridor and the expansion of Port Klang further reinforce the economic significance of the city.
Bursa Malaysia or the Malaysia Exchange is based in the city and forms one of its core economic activities. As of 20 November, 2007, the market capitalisation stood at US$318.65 billion.
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for Kuala Lumpur is estimated at RM25,968 million in 2000 with an average annual growth rate of 4.2 percent. The per capita GDP for Kuala Lumpur in year 2000 is RM30,727, an average annual growth rate of 6.1 percent. The total employment in Kuala Lumpur is estimated at around 838,400. The service sector comprising finance, insurance, real estate, business services, wholesale and retail trade, restaurants and hotels, transport, storage and communication, utilities, personal services and government services form the largest component of employment representing about 83.0 percent of the total. The remaining 17 percent comes from manufacturing and construction.
The large service sector is evident in the number of local and foreign banks and insurance companies operating in the city. Kuala Lumpur is poised to become the global Islamic Financing hub with an increasing number of financial institutions providing Islamic Financing and the strong presence of Gulf's financial institutions such as the world's largest Islamic bank, Al-Rajhi Bank and Kuwait Finance House. Apart from that, the Dow Jones & Company is keen to work with Bursa Malaysia to set up Islamic Exchange Trade Funds (ETFs), which would help raise Malaysia's profile in the Gulf. The city has a large number of foreign corporations and is also host to many multi national companies’ regional offices or support centres, particularly for finance and accounting, and information technology functions. Most of the countries’ largest companies have their headquarters based here and as of December 2007 and excluding Petronas, there are 14 companies that are listed in Forbes 2000 based in Kuala Lumpur.
Other important economic activities in the city are education and health services. Kuala Lumpur also has advantages stemming from the high concentration of educational institutions located within its boundaries, providing a wide range of courses. Such public institutions include the International Islamic University Malaysia,University of Malaya, the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, International Medical University and the Medical Faculty of the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. There are also a large number of private colleges, including the Universiti Tun Abdul Razak and Tunku Abdul Rahman College, in and around Kuala Lumpur providing a wide range of courses which attract students from all over Malaysia as well as from other countries. There are numerous public and private medical specialist centres and hospitals in the city which offer general health services and a wide range of specialist surgery and treatment catering to locals and tourists.
There has been growing emphasis to expand the economic scope of the city into other service activities such as research and development which supports the rest of the economy of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur has been home for years to important research centers such as the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia, the Forest Research Institute Malaysia and the Institute of Medical Research and more research centers are expected to be established in the coming years.
Major destinations include the Kuala Lumpur City Centre, KLCC,House of Parliament, Kuala Lumpur Tower, Putra World Trade Centre, Dataran Merdeka, Tugu Negara, Istana Negara, Istana Budaya, mosques such as the Masjid Jamek, Masjid Negara and the Federal Territory Mosque, Muzium Negara, and other tourist attractions including Aquaria KLCC, Batu Caves, Makam Pahlawan, National Science Centre, Zoo Negara, and events such as Malay cultural centres, the Chinese cultural festivals at the Thean Hou Temple and the Thaipusam procession at the Sri Mahamariamman Temple. The Golden Triangle, the commercial hub of the city, contains the Petronas Twin Towers and has a distinctive nightlife. Trendy nightclubs, bars and lounges, such as Hakka Republic Wine bar & Restaurant,Hard Rock Cafe, Zouk, Thai Club, Beach Club (voted Best Bar in Asia), Luna Bar, Rum Jungle, Nuovo, Espanda and many others are located within and around Jalan P. Ramlee, Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Ampang. If it's Italian you're after Nerovivo (Jalan Ceylon), Neroteca (Lorong Ceylon) or Nerofico (Jalan Dungun) are the best in town.
Hotels, from five-star to budget types, have cropped up everywhere to accommodate the influx of tourists each year. While there are many hotels near Kuala Lumpur's entertainment and business districts, some have chosen to veer away from the hustle and bustle.
Apart from shopping complexes, Kuala Lumpur has designated numerous zones in the city to market locally manufactured products such as textiles, fabrics and handicrafts. The Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur, or commonly known as Petaling Street, is one of them. Chinatown features many pre-independence buildings with Straits Chinese and European traditions influence. The Kuala Lumpur's Central Market, which was once the city's wet market, offers an assortment of arts and craft merchandise, varying from antiques and paintings to souvenirs and clothing. It is also known as Pasar Seni in Malay.
Since 2000, the Ministry of Tourism of Malaysia has kick-started the mega sale event for all shopping in Malaysia. The mega sale event is held thrice in a year—in March, May and December—where all shopping malls are encouraged to participate to boost Kuala Lumpur as a leading shopping destination.
Prior to the Second World War, many shophouses, usually two storeys with functional shops on the ground floor and separate residential spaces upstairs, were built around the old city centre. These shop-houses drew inspiration from Straits Chinese and European traditions. Some of these shophouses have made way for new developments but there are still many standing today around Medan Pasar (Old Market Square), Chinatown, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Jalan Doraisamy, Bukit Bintang and Tengkat Tong Shin areas.
Independence coupled with the rapid economic growth from the 1970s to the 1990s and with Islam being the official religion in the country, has resulted in the construction of buildings with a more local and Islamic flavour arise around the city. Many of these buildings derive their design from traditional Malay items such as the songkok and the keris. Some of these buildings have Islamic geometric motifs integrated with the designs of the building, signifying Islamic restriction on imitating nature through drawings. Examples of these buildings are Menara Telekom, Menara Maybank, Dayabumi Complex, and the Islamic Center. Some buildings such as the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia and National Planetarium have been built to masquerade as a place of worship, complete with dome and minaret, when in fact it is a place of science and knowledge. The 452-metre (1,480 ft) tall Petronas Twin Towers were designed to resemble motifs found in Islamic art.
Late modern and postmodern architecture began to appear in the late-1990s and early-2000s. With the economic development, old buildings such as Bok House have been razed to make way for new ones. Buildings with all glass shell appears around the city, with the most prominent example being the Petronas Twin Towers and Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
Kuala Lumpur’s central business district today has shifted around the Kuala Lumpur city centre (KLCC) where many new and tall buildings with modern and postmodern architecture fill the skyline.
There are three forest reserves within the city namely the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve in the city centre, the oldest gazetted forest reserve in the country (10.52 ha/26.0 acres, Bukit Sungai Putih Forest Reserve (7.41 ha/18.3 acres) and Bukit Sungai Besi Forest Reserve (42.11 ha/104.1 acres). Bukit Nanas, in the heart of the city centre, is one of the oldest virgin forests in the world within a city. These residual forest areas are home to a number of fauna species particularly monkeys, tree shrews, squirrels and birds.
Kuala Lumpur also has an Islamic Arts Museum which houses more than seven thousand Islamic artefacts including rare exhibits from China as well as a library of Islamic art books. This museum features some impressively decorated domes and large open exhibition spaces. It is located at Jalan Lembah Perdana next to the National Mosque.
The premier performing arts venue is the Petronas Philharmonic Hall. The resident orchestra is the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO), consisting of musicians from all over the world and features regular concerts, chamber concerts and traditional cultural performances.
The National Art Gallery of Malaysia is located on Jalan Temerloh, off Jalan Tun Razak on a 5.67-hectare (14.0-acre) site neighbouring the National Theater (Istana Budaya) and National Library. The architecture of the gallery incorporates elements of traditional Malay architecture, as well as contemporary modern architecture. The National Art Gallery serves as a centre of excellence and trustee of the national art heritage.
The Petronas Art Gallery, another centre for fine art, is situated in Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC). The Galeri Tangsi near Dataran Merdeka houses exhibitions of works by local and foreign artists.
The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) in Sentul West is one of the most established centres for the performing arts, notably theatre, music, and film screening, in the country. It has housed many local productions and has been a supporter of local and regional independent performance artists. One of the highlights in 2006 was the KL Sing Song 2006 music fest which featured Malaysian singer-songwriters of various cultural backgrounds, from both West and East Malaysia, through two days of performances and workshops.
Kuala Lumpur holds the Malaysia International Gourmet Festival annually Another event hosted annually by the city is the Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week, which includes international brands as well as local designers.
Kuala Lumpur has numerous parks and open spaces for recreational purposes. Total open space for recreational and sport facilities land use in the city has increased significantly by 169.6 percent from 586 hectares (1,450 acres) in 1984 to 1,580 hectares (3,900 acres) in 2000.
Kuala Lumpur is one of the host cities for the Formula One World Championship, the open-wheel auto racing A1 Grand Prix and the Motorcycle Grand Prix with races being held at Sepang International Circuit in the neighbouring state of Selangor, next to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The Formula One event contributes significantly to tourist arrivals and tourism income to Kuala Lumpur. This is evident during the Asian Financial Crisis in 1998. Despite cities around Asia suffering declining tourist arrivals, Kuala Lumpur tourist arrivals increased from 6,210,900 in 1997 to 10,221,600 in 2000, or 64.6% increase in tourist arrivals.
Other annual sport events hosted by the city include the KL Tower Run, the KL Tower International BASE Jump Merdeka Circuit and the Kuala Lumpur International Marathon. Kuala Lumpur is also one of the stages of the Tour de Langkawi cycling race.
Kuala Lumpur has a considerable array of sports facilities of international class after hosting the 1998 Commonwealth Games. Many of these facilities including the main stadium (with running track and a football field), hockey stadium and swimming pools are located in the National Sports Complex at Bukit Jalil while a velodrome and more swimming pools are located in Bandar Tun Razak, next to the Taman Tasik Permaisuri Lake Gardens. There are also soccer fields, local sports complexes, swimming pools and tennis courts scattered around the suburbs. Badminton and ‘takraw’ courts are usually included in community halls.
Kuala Lumpur has several golf courses including the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (KLGCC) and the Malaysia Civil Service Golf Club in Kiara and the Berjaya Golf Course at Bukit Jalil.
The city also has numerous large private fitness centers run by California Fitness, Fitness First, Celebrity Gym, True Fitness and the major five star hotels.
The city is also home to the country's main pay-TV service, Astro, a satellite television service, which broadcasts local and global television channels such as CNN, BBC World, Star World and HBO. Al-Jazeera, the Doha-based Arab news network has launched a new English-speaking channel called Al-Jazeera English to boost its international viewership with one of its broadcast centers based in Kuala Lumpur. Phoenix TV, a Hong Kong based television broadcaster has also announced plans to expand its regional business by partnership with local satellite TV provider, Astro. The Hong Kong office of Channel V International, an international music channel, relocated its programme production unit in Kuala Lumpur by appointing the local company Double Vision Sdn Bhd. In March 2008, Time Out, the international listings and events magazine, launched in Kuala Lumpur as its 24th global city.
Kuala Lumpur has been featured in all aspects of popular culture such as movies, television, music and books. Movies set in Kuala Lumpur include Entrapment, starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Children of Men, (starring Clive Owen) where the Petronas Twin Towers were depicted in flames for a few seconds. Books which were set in Kuala Lumpur include KL 24/7 by Ida M Rahim, Shireen Zainudin and Rizal Zainudin and Democracy by Joan Didion. Kuala Lumpur is also mentioned in many songs by local Malaysian artists such as Keroncong Kuala Lumpur by P. Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur, Ibu Kota by Saloma, Chow Kit Road by Sudirman Arshad, Senyumlah Kuala Lumpur by Alleycats, Streets of Kuala Lumpur by Murkyway, K.L. by Vandal, Kuala Lumpur by Poetic Ammo, Anak Dara by Azmyl Yunor and KL by Too Phat. Kuala Lumpur was also one of the destinations in The Amazing Race Asia and The Amazing Race. Games have also been set in Kuala Lumpur. They include three levels of the game Hitman 2: Silent
In terms of air connectivity, Kuala Lumpur is served by two airports. The main airport, Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), which is also the aviation hub of Malaysia, is located about 50 kilometres (31 mi) south of city. The other airport is Subang Airport which used to be the main international airport serving the city until KLIA replaced it when it opened in 1998. The airport connects the city with direct flights to destinations in six continents around the world, and is the main hub for the national carrier, Malaysia Airlines. KLIA can be reached using the KLIA Ekspres high-speed train service from KL Sentral which takes only twenty-eight minutes, while travelling by car via highway will take about an hour. As of 2007, Subang Airport is only used for chartered and turboprops flights by airlines such as Firefly and Berjaya Air.
Public transport on Kuala Lumpur and the rest of the Klang Valley covers a variety of transport modes such as bus, rail and taxi. Despite efforts to promote usage of public transportation, utilisation rates are low as only 16 percent of the population used public transportation in 2006. The rapid transit system in Kuala Lumpur consists of three separate rail systems which meet in the city and extends towards other parts of Klang Valley. The rail systems are RapidKL RAIL, KL Monorail, and KTM Komuter. These lines have either underground or elevated stations around the city. The main rapid transit hub is KL Sentral which facilitates as an interchange station for the rail systems. KL Sentral is also a hub for intercity railway operated by KTM Intercity. It provides rail services to as far as Singapore in the south, and Hat Yai, Thailand, in the north.
The largest public transportation operator in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley is RapidKL. Since the take over from Intrakota Komposit Sdn Bhd, RapidKL has redrawn the entire bus network of Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley metropolitan area to increase ridership and improve Kuala Lumpur's public transportation system. The management of RapidKL has adopted the hub and spoke system to provide greater connectivity, and cut down the need of more buses. RapidKL is also the operator of three rapid transit rail lines in Kuala Lumpur, namely Ampang Line, Sri Petaling Line and Kelana Jaya Line.
Kuala Lumpur is served by Port Klang, located about 64 km (40 mi) southwest of the city. The port is the largest and busiest in the country handling about 6.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) of cargo in 2006.
In Kuala Lumpur alone, there are 13 tertiary education institutions, 79 high schools, 155 elementary schools and 136 kindergartens.
There are several notable institutions located in the city which have existed for more than 100 years, such as, Victoria Institution (1893); Methodist Girls' School, Kuala Lumpur (1896); Methodist Boys' School (1897); Convent Bukit Nanas (1899) and St. John's Institution (1904);
Kuala Lumpur is home to the University of Malaya. Established in 1962, it is the oldest university in Malaysia, and one of the oldest in the region. It is also the most prestigious tertiary institution in Malaysia, having been ranked first among the universities in Malaysia in the 2004 THES international rankings. In recent years, the number of international students at University of Malaya has risen, a result of increasing efforts made to attract more international students.
Other universities located in Kuala Lumpur include International Medical University, Open University Malaysia, Universiti Kuala Lumpur, Wawasan Open University and the branch campus of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. Apart from these, universities located around Kuala Lumpur include Monash University Malaysia Campus, Taylor's University College, HELP University College and others.
The National Defence University of Malaysia is located at Sungai Besi Army Base, at the southern part of central Kuala Lumpur. It was established to be a major centre for military and defence technology studies. This institution covers studies in the field of army, navy, and air force.
Malaysia is a federation that consists of thirteen states and three federal territories in Southeast Asia with a total landmass of 329,847 square kilometres (127,355 sq mi). The capital city is Kuala Lumpur, while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government. The population stands at over 27 million. The country is separated into two regions—Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo—by the South China Sea. Malaysia borders Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines. The country is located near the equator and experiences a tropical climate. Malaysia's head of state is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the government is headed by a Prime Minister. The government is closely modeled after the Westminster Parliamentary System.
Malaysia as a unified state did not exist until 1963. Previously, a set of colonies were established by the United Kingdom from the late-18th century, and the western half of modern Malaysia was composed of several separate kingdoms. This group of colonies was known as British Malaya until its dissolution in 1946, when it was reorganised as the Malayan Union. Due to widespread opposition, it was reorganised again as the Federation of Malaya in 1948 and later gained independence on 31 August 1957. Singapore, Sarawak, British North Borneo and the Federation of Malaya joined to form Malaysia on 16 September 1963. The early years of the new union were marred by an armed conflict with Indonesia and the expulsion of Singapore on 9 August 1965. The Southeast Asian nation experienced an economic boom and underwent rapid development during the late-20th century. Rapid growth during the 1980s and 1990s, averaging 8% from 1991 to 1997, has transformed Malaysia into a newly industrialised country. Because Malaysia is one of three countries that control the Strait of Malacca, international trade plays a large role in its economy. At one time, it was the largest producer of tin, rubber and palm oil in the world. Manufacturing has a large influence in the country's economy. Malaysia has a biodiverse range of flora and fauna, and is also considered one of the 18 Megadiverse countries.
Malays form the majority of the population of Malaysia. There are sizable Chinese and Indian communities as well. As a religious society, Islam is the official religion, as well as the largest of the federation. The Malay language is the official language.
Malaysia is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and participates in many international organisations such as the United Nations. As a former British colony, it is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is also a member of the Developing 8 Countries.
Even further back into history, the English ethnologist George Samuel Windsor Earl in volume IV of Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia in 1850 proposed to name the islands of Indonesia as Melayunesia or Indunesia though he favored the former.
There were numerous Chinese and Indian kingdoms in the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE as many as 30 according to Chinese sources. Kedah—known as Kedaram, Cheh-Cha (according to I-Ching) or Kataha, in ancient Pallava or Sanskrit—was in the direct route of invasions of Indian traders and kings. Rajendra Chola, Tamil Emperor who is now thought to have laid Kota Gelanggi to waste, put Kedah to heel in 1025 but his successor, Vira Rajendra Chola, had to put down a Kedah rebellion to overthrow the invaders. The coming of the Chola reduced the majesty of Srivijaya which had exerted influence over Kedah and Pattani and even as far as Ligor.
The Buddhist kingdom of Ligor took control of Kedah shortly after, and its King Chandrabhanu used it as a base to attack Sri Lanka in the 11th century, an event noted in a stone inscription in Nagapattinum in Tamil Nadu and in the Sri Lankan chronicles, Mahavamsa. During the first millennium, the people of the Malay Peninsula adopted Hinduism and Buddhism and the use of the Sanskrit language until they eventually converted to Islam.
There are reports of other areas older than Kedah—the ancient kingdom of Gangga Negara, around Beruas in Perak, for instance, pushes Malaysian history even further into antiquity. If that is not enough, a Tamil poem, Pattinapillai, of the second century CE, describes goods from Kadaram heaped in the broad streets of the Chola capital. A 7th century Sanskrit drama, Kaumudhimahotsva, refers to Kedah as Kataha-nagari. The Agnipurana also mentions a territory known as Anda-Kataha with one of its boundaries delineated by a peak, which scholars believe is Gunung Jerai. Stories from the Katasaritasagaram describe the elegance of life in Kataha.
Sultan Abdul Samad Building in Kuala Lumpur houses the High Court of Malaya and the Trade Court. Kuala Lumpur was the capital of the Federated Malay States and is the current Malaysian capital.
In the early-15th century, the Malacca Sultanate was established under a dynasty founded by Parameswara or Sultan Iskandar Shah, a prince from Palembang with bloodline related to the royal house of Srivijaya, who fled from Temasek (now Singapore). Parameswara decided to establish his kingdom in Malacca after witnessing an astonishing incident where a white mouse deer kicked one of his hunting dogs into a nearby river. He took this show of bravery by the mouse deer as a good sign and named his kingdom "Melaka" after the tree under which he was resting at the time. At its height, the sultanate controlled the areas which are now peninsular Malaysia, southern Thailand (Patani), and the eastern coast of Sumatra. It existed for more than a century, and within that time period Islam spread to most of the Malay Archipelago. Malacca was the foremost trading port at the time in Southeast Asia.
The first evidence of Islam in the Malay Peninsula dates from the 14th century in Terengganu, but according to the Kedah Annals, the 9th Sultan of Kedah, Maharaja Derbar Raja, converted to Islam and changed his name to Sultan Muzaffar Shah. In 1511, Malacca was conquered by Portugal, which established a colony there. The sons of the last Sultan of Malacca established two sultanates elsewhere in the peninsula—the Sultanate of Perak to the north, and the Sultanate of Johor (originally a continuation of the old Malacca sultanate) to the south. After the fall of Malacca, three nations struggled for the control of Malacca Strait: the Portuguese (in Malacca), the Sultanate of Johor, and the Sultanate of Aceh. This conflict went on until 1641, when the Dutch (allied to the Sultanate of Johor) gained control of Malacca.
During the late-19th century, many Malay states decided to obtain British help in settling their internal conflicts. The commercial importance of tin mining in the Malay states to merchants in the Straits Settlements led to British government intervention in the tin-producing states in the Malay Peninsula. British gunboat diplomacy was employed to bring about a peaceful resolution to civil disturbances caused by Chinese and Malay gangsters, and the Pangkor Treaty of 1874 paved the way for the expansion of British influence in Malaya. By the turn of the 20th century, the states of Pahang, Selangor, Perak, and Negeri Sembilan, known together as the Federated Malay States (not to be confused with the Federation of Malaya), were under the de facto control of British Residents appointed to advise the Malay rulers. The British were "advisers" in name, but in reality they exercised substantial influence over the Malay rulers.
The remaining five states in the peninsula, known as the Unfederated Malay States, while not directly under rule from London, also accepted British advisers around the turn of the 20th century. Of these, the four northern states of Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu had previously been under Siamese control. The other unfederated state, Johor, was the only state which managed to preserve its independence throughout most of the 19th century. Sultan Abu Bakar of Johor and Queen Victoria were personal acquaintances, and recognised each other as equals. It was not until 1914 that Sultan Abu Bakar's successor, Sultan Ibrahim accepted a British adviser.
On the island of Borneo, Sabah was governed as the crown colony of British North Borneo, while Sarawak was acquired from Brunei as the personal kingdom of the Brooke family, who ruled as white Rajahs.
Following the Japanese Invasion of Malaya its occupation during World War II, popular support for independence grew. Post-war British plans to unite the administration of Malaya under a single crown colony called the Malayan Union foundered on strong opposition from the Malays, who opposed the emasculation of the Malay rulers and the granting of citizenship to the ethnic Chinese. The Malayan Union, established in 1946 and consisting of all the British possessions in Malaya with the exception of Singapore, was dissolved in 1948 and replaced by the Federation of Malaya, which restored the autonomy of the rulers of the Malay states under British protection.
During this time, rebels under the leadership of the Malayan Communist Party launched guerrilla operations designed to force the British out of Malaya. The Malayan Emergency, as it was known, lasted from 1948 to 1960, and involved a long anti-insurgency campaign by Commonwealth troops in Malaya. Although the insurgency quickly stopped there was still a presence of Commonwealth troops, with the backdrop of the Cold War. Against this backdrop, independence for the Federation within the Commonwealth was granted on 31 August 1957.
The early years of independence were marred by the conflict with Indonesia (Konfrontasi) over the formation of Malaysia, Singapore's eventual exit in 1965, and racial strife in the form of race riots in 1969. The Philippines also made an active claim on Sabah in that period based upon the Sultanate of Brunei's cession of its north-east territories to the Sulu Sultanate in 1704. The claim is still ongoing. After the 13 May race riots of 1969, the controversial New Economic Policy—intended to increase proportionately the share of the economic pie of the bumiputras ("indigenous people", which includes the majority Malays, but not always the indigenous population) as compared to other ethnic groups—was launched by Prime Minister Abdul Razak. Malaysia has since maintained a delicate ethno-political balance, with a system of government that has attempted to combine overall economic development with political and economic policies that promote equitable participation of all races.
Between the 1980s and the mid-1990s, Malaysia experienced significant economic growth under the premiership of Mahathir bin Mohamad. The period saw a shift from an agriculture-based economy to one based on manufacturing and industry in areas such as computers and consumer electronics. It was during this period, too, that the physical landscape of Malaysia has changed with the emergence of numerous mega-projects. The most notable of these projects are the Petronas Twin Towers (at the time the tallest building in the world), KL International Airport (KLIA), North-South Expressway, the Sepang F1 Circuit, the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), the Bakun hydroelectric dam and Putrajaya, the new federal administrative capital.
In the late-1990s, Malaysia was shaken by the Asian financial crisis as well as political unrest caused by the sacking of the deputy prime minister Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim. In 2003, Dr Mahathir, Malaysia's longest serving prime minister, retired in favour of his deputy, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. On November 2007, Malaysia was rocked by two anti-government rallies. The 2007 Bersih Rally numbering 40,000 strong was held in Kuala Lumpur on 10 November campaigning for electoral reform. It was precipitated by allegations of corruption and discrepancies in the Malaysian election system that heavily favour the ruling political party, Barisan Nasional, which has been in power since Malaysia achieved its independence in 1957. Another rally was held on 25 November in the Malaysian capital lead by HINDRAF. The rally organiser, the Hindu Rights Action Force, had called the protest over alleged discriminatory policies which favour ethnic Malays. The crowd was estimated to be between 5,000 and 30,000. In both cases the government and police were heavy handed and tried to prevent the gatherings from taking place. In 16 October 2008, HINDRAF was banned as the government labelled the organisation as "a threat to national security".
Government and politics
The system of government in Malaysia is closely modeled on that of Westminster parliamentary system, a legacy of British colonial rule. In practice however, more power is vested in the executive branch of government than in the legislative, and the judiciary has been weakened by sustained attacks by the government during the Mahathir era. Since independence in 1957, Malaysia has been governed by a multi-party coalition known as the Barisan Nasional (formerly known as the Alliance).
Legislative power is divided between federal and state legislatures. The bicameral parliament consists of the lower house, the House of Representatives or Dewan Rakyat (literally the "Chamber of the People") and the upper house, the Senate or Dewan Negara (literally the "Chamber of the Nation"). The 222-member House of Representatives are elected from single-member constituencies that are drawn based on population for a maximum term of five years. All 70 Senators sit for three-year terms; 26 are elected by the 13 state assemblies, two representing the federal territory of Kuala Lumpur, one each from federal territories of Labuan and Putrajaya, and 40 are appointed by the king. Besides the Parliament at the federal level, each state has a unicameral state legislative chamber (Malay: Dewan Undangan Negeri) whose members are elected from single-member constituencies. Parliamentary elections are held at least once every five years, with the last general election being in March 2008. Registered voters of age 21 and above may vote for the members of the House of Representatives and in most of the states, the state legislative chamber as well. Voting is not compulsory.
Executive power is vested in the cabinet led by the prime minister; the Malaysian constitution stipulates that the prime minister must be a member of the lower house of parliament who, in the opinion of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, commands a majority in parliament. The cabinet is chosen from among members of both houses of Parliament and is responsible to that body.
State governments are led by Chief Ministers (Menteri Besar in Malay states or Ketua Menteri in states without hereditary rulers), who is a state assembly member from the majority party in the Dewan Undangan Negeri. In each of the states with a hereditary ruler, the Chief Minister is required to be a Malay Muslim, although this rule is subject to the rulers' discretion.
Tanjung Piai, located in the southern state of Johor, is the southernmost tip of continental Asia.
The Strait of Malacca, lying between Sumatra and peninsular Malaysia, is arguably the most important shipping lane in the world.
Putrajaya is the newly created administrative capital for the federal government of Malaysia, aimed in part to ease growing congestion within Malaysia's capital city, Kuala Lumpur. Kuala Lumpur remains the seat of parliament, as well as the commercial and financial capital of the country. Other major cities include George Town, Ipoh, Johor Bahru, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Miri, Alor Star, Malacca Town, and Petaling Jaya.
Regarding forestry resources, it is noted that logging only began to make a substantial contribution to the economy during the 19th century. Today, an estimated 59% of Malaysia remains forested. The rapid expansion of the timber industry, particularly after the 1960s, has brought about a serious erosion problem in the country's forest resources. However, in line with the Government's commitment to protect the environment and the ecological system, forestry resources are being managed on a sustainable basis and accordingly the rate of tree felling has been on the decline.
In addition, substantial areas are being silviculturally treated and reforestation of degraded forest land is also being carried out. The Malaysian government provide plans for the enrichment of some 312.30 square kilometers (120.5 sq mi) of land with rattan under natural forest conditions and in rubber plantations as an inter crop. To further enrich forest resources, fast-growing timber species such as meranti tembaga, merawan and sesenduk are also being planted. At the same time, the cultivation of high-value trees like teak and other trees for pulp and paper are also encouraged. Rubber, once the mainstay of the Malaysian economy, has been largely replaced by oil palm as Malaysia's leading agricultural export.
Tin and petroleum are the two main mineral resources that are of major significance in the Malaysian economy. Malaysia was once the world's largest producer of tin until the collapse of the tin market in the early-1980s. In the 19th and 20th centuries, tin played a predominant role in the Malaysian economy. It was only in 1972 that petroleum and natural gas took over from tin as the mainstay of the mineral extraction sector. Meanwhile, the contribution by tin has declined. Petroleum and natural gas discoveries in oil fields off Sabah, Sarawak and Terengganu have contributed much to the Malaysian economy. Other minerals of some importance or significance include copper, bauxite, iron-ore and coal together with industrial minerals like clay, kaolin, silica, limestone, barite, phosphates and dimension stones such as granite as well as marble blocks and slabs. Small quantities of gold are produced.
In 2004, a minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Mustapa Mohamed, revealed that Malaysia's oil reserves stood at 4.84 billion barrels (769,000,000 m3) while natural gas reserves increased to 89 trillion cubic feet (2,500 km³). This was an increase of 7.2%. As of 1 January 2007, Petronas reported that oil and gas reserve in Malaysia amounted to 20.18 billion barrels (3.208×109 m3) equivalent.
The government estimates that at current production rates Malaysia will be able to produce oil up to 18 years and gas for 35 years. In 2004, Malaysia is ranked 24th in terms of world oil reserves and 13th for gas. 56% of the oil reserves exist in the Peninsula while 19% exist in East Malaysia. The government collects oil royalties of which 5% are passed to the states and the rest retained by the federal government.
23.7% of the population are Malaysians of Chinese descent, while Malaysians of Indian descent comprise 7.1% of the population. The majority of the Indian community are Tamils but various other groups are also present, including Malayalis, Punjabis and Gujaratis. Other Malaysians also include those whose origin, inter alia, can be traced to the Middle East, Thailand and Indonesia. Europeans and Eurasians include British who settled in Malaysia since colonial times, and a strong Kristang community in Malacca. A small number of Cambodians and Vietnamese also settled in Malaysia as Vietnam War refugees.
The population distribution is highly uneven, with some 20 million residents concentrated on the Malay Peninsula, while East Malaysia is relatively less populated. Due to the rise in labour intensive industries, Malaysia has 10 to 20% foreign workers with the uncertainty due in part to the large number of illegal workers, mostly Indonesian. There are a million legal foreign workers and perhaps another million unauthorised foreigners. The state of Sabah alone has nearly 25% of its 2.7 million population listed as illegal foreign workers in the last census. However, this figure of 25% is thought to be less than half the figure speculated by NGOs.
Additionally, according to the World Refugee Survey 2008, published by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Malaysia hosts a population of refugees and asylum seekers numbering approximately 155,700. Of this population, approximately 70,500 refugees and asylum seekers are from the Philippines, 69,700 from Burma, and 21,800 from Indonesia. The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants named Malaysia as one of the Ten Worst Places for Refugees on account of the country's discriminatory practices toward refugees. Malaysian officials are reported to have turned deportees directly over to human smugglers in 2007, and Malaysia employs the RELA, a volunteer militia, to enforce its immigration law.
Largest Cities of Malaysia
All ethnic Malays are considered Muslim (100%) as defined by Article 160 of the Constitution of Malaysia. Additional statistics from the 2000 Census indicate that ethnic Chinese are predominantly Buddhist (75.9%), with significant numbers of adherents following Taoism (10.6%) and Christianity (9.6%). The majority of ethnic Indians follow Hinduism (84.5%), with a significant minority identifying as Christians (7.7%) and Muslims (3.8%). Christianity is the predominant religion of the non-Malay bumiputra community (50.1%) with an additional 36.3% identifying as Muslims and 7.3% identifying as adherents to what is officially classified as folk religion.
Although the Malaysian constitution theoretically guarantees religious freedom, in practice the situation is restricted. Additionally, all non-Muslims who marry a Muslim must renounce their religion and convert to Islam. Meanwhile, non-Muslims experience restrictions in activities such as construction of religious buildings and the celebration of certain religious events in some states. Muslims are obliged to follow the decisions of Syariah courts when it comes to matters concerning their religion. The jurisdiction of Syariah court is limited only to Muslims over matters of Faith and Obligations as a Muslim, which includes marriage, inheritance, apostasy, religious conversion, and custody among others. No other criminal or civil offenses are under the jurisdiction of the Syariah courts, which have a similar hierarchy to the Civil Courts. Despite being the supreme courts of the land, the Civil Courts (including the Federal Court, the highest court in Malaysia) in principle cannot overrule any decision made by the Syariah Courts; and presently are reluctant to preside over cases involving Islam in any nature or question or challenge the authority of the Syariah courts. This has caused notable problems, particularly involving civil cases between Muslims and non-Muslims, in which civil courts have ordered non-Muslims to seek recourse from the Syariah Courts.
Most Malaysian children start schooling between the ages of three to six, in kindergarten. Most kindergartens are run privately, but there are a few government-run kindergartens.
Children begin primary schooling at the age of seven for a period of six years. There are two major types of government-operated or government-assisted primary schools. The vernacular schools (Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan) use either Chinese or Tamil as the medium of teaching. Before progressing to the secondary level of education, pupils in Year 6 are required to sit for the Primary School Achievement Test (Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah, UPSR). A programme called First Level Assessment (Penilaian Tahap Satu, PTS) was used to measure the ability of bright pupils, and to allow them to move from Year 3 to 5, skipping Year 4. However, this programme was abolished in 2001.
Secondary education in Malaysia is conducted in secondary schools (Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan) for five years. National secondary schools use Malay as the main medium of instruction. The only exceptions are the Mathematics and Science subjects as well as languages other than Malay, however this was only implemented in the year 2003, and before that all non-language subjects were taught in Malay. At the end of Form Three, which is the third year, students are evaluated in the Lower Secondary Assessment (Penilaian Menengah Rendah, PMR). In the final year of secondary education (Form Five), students sit for the Malaysian Certificate of Education (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia, SPM) examination, which is equivalent to the former British Ordinary or 'O' Levels. The oldest school in Malaysia is Penang Free School, also the oldest school in South East Asia.
Malaysian national secondary schools are sub-divided into several types, namely National Secondary School (Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan), Religious Secondary School (Sekolah Menengah Agama), National-Type Secondary School (Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan) which is also referred as Mission Schools, Technical Schools (Sekolah Menengah Teknik), Residential Schools and MARA Junior Science College (Maktab Rendah Sains MARA).
There are also 60 Chinese Independent High Schools in Malaysia, where most subjects are taught in Chinese. Chinese Independent High Schools are monitored and standardised by the United Chinese School Committees' Association of Malaysia (UCSCAM, more commonly referred to by its Chinese name, Dong Zong 董总), however, unlike government schools, every independent school is free to make its own decisions. Studying in independent schools takes 6 years to complete, divided into Junior Level (3 years) and Senior Level (3 years). Students will sit for a standardised test conducted by UCSCAM, which is known as the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) in Junior Middle 3 (equivalent to PMR) and Senior Middle 3 (equivalent to A level). A number of independent schools conduct classes in Malay and English in addition to Chinese, enabling the students to sit for the PMR and SPM as well.
Before the introduction of the matriculation system, students aiming to enter public universities had to complete an additional 18 months of secondary schooling in Form Six and sit for the Malaysian Higher School Certificate (Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia, STPM); equivalent to the British Advanced or 'A' levels. Since the introduction of the matriculation programme as an alternative to STPM in 1999, students complete a 12-month programme in matriculation colleges (kolej matrikulasi in Malay). However, in the matriculation system, only 10% of the places are open to non-Bumiputra students while the rest are reserved for Bumiputra students.
There are public universities such as University of Malaya, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Mara, and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Private universities are also gaining enough reputation for international quality education and many students from all over the world are attracted to these universities. Such as Multimedia University, Universiti Teknologi Petronas etc. In addition, four international reputable universities have set up their branch campuses in Malaysia since 1998. A branch campus can be seen as an ‘offshore campus’ of the foreign university, which offers the same courses and awards as the main campus. Both local and international students can acquire these identical foreign qualifications in Malaysia at a lower fee. The foreign university branch campuses in Malaysia are: Monash University Malaysia Campus, Curtin University of Technology Sarawak Campus, Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus and University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus.
Students also have the option of enrolling in private tertiary institutions after secondary studies. Most institutions have educational links with overseas universities especially in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, allowing students to spend a portion of their course duration abroad as well as getting overseas qualifications. One such example is SEGi College which partnered with University of Abertay Dundee. Malaysian students abroad study mostly in the UK, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Japan and Middle East countries such as Jordan and Egypt.
In addition to the Malaysian National Curriculum, Malaysia has many international schools. International schools offer students the opportunity to study the curriculum of another country. These schools mainly cater to the growing expatriate population in the country. International schools include: the Australian International School, Malaysia (Australian curriculum), The Alice Smith School (British Curriculum), elc International school (British Curriculum), The Garden International School (British Curriculum), Lodge International School (British Curriculum), The International School of Kuala Lumpur (International Baccalaureate and American Curriculum), The Japanese School of Kuala Lumpur (Japanese Curriculum), The Chinese Taipei School, Kuala Lumpur and The Chinese Taipei School, Penang (Taiwanese Curriculum), The International School of Penang (International Baccalaureate and British Curriculum), Lycée Français de Kuala Lumpur (French Curriculum) amongst others.
The Malaysian health care system requires doctors to perform a compulsory three years service with public hospitals to ensure the manpower of these hospitals is maintained. Recently foreign doctors have also been encouraged to take up employment here. There is still, however, a compound shortage of medical workforce, especially that of highly trained specialists resulting in certain medical care and treatment only available in large cities. Recent efforts to bring many facilities to other towns have been hampered by lack of expertise to run the available equipment made ready by investments.
The majority of private hospitals are in urban areas and, unlike many of the public hospitals, are equipped with the latest diagnostic and imaging facilities. Private hospitals have not generally been seen as an ideal investment—it has often taken up to ten years before companies have seen any profits. However, the situation has now changed and companies are now looking into this area again, particularly in view of the increasing interest by foreigners in coming to Malaysia for medical care and the recent government focus to develop the health tourism industry.
In the 17th century, they were found in several Malay states. Later, as the British started to take over as administrators of Malaya, rubber and palm oil trees were introduced for commercial purposes. Over time, Malaya became the world's largest major producer of tin, rubber, and palm oil. These three commodities, along with other raw materials, firmly set Malaysia's economic tempo well into the mid-20th century.
Instead of relying on the local Malays as a source of labour, the British brought in Chinese and Indians to work in on the mines, plantations and fill up the void in professional expertise . Although many of them returned to their respective home countries after their agreed tenure ended, some remained in Malaysia and settled permanently.
As Malaya moved towards independence, the government began implementing economic five-year plans, beginning with the First Malayan Five Year Plan in 1955. Upon the establishment of Malaysia, the plans were re-titled and renumbered, beginning with the First Malaysia Plan in 1965.
In the 1970s, Malaysia began to imitate the four Asian Tiger economies (Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore) and committed itself to a transition from being reliant on mining and agriculture to an economy that depends more on manufacturing. With Japanese investment, heavy industries flourished and in a matter of years, Malaysian exports became the country's primary growth engine. Malaysia consistently achieved more than 7% GDP growth along with low inflation in the 1980s and the 1990s.
During the same period, the government tried to eradicate poverty with the controversial New Economic Policy (NEP), after the May 13 Incident of racial rioting in 1969. Its main objective was the elimination of the association of race with economic function, and the first five-year plan to begin implementing the NEP was the Second Malaysia Plan. The success or failure of the NEP is the subject of much debate, although it was officially retired in 1990 and replaced by the National Development Policy (NDP). Recently much debate has surfaced once again with regards to the results and relevance of the NEP. Some have argued that the NEP has indeed successfully created a Middle/Upper Class of Malay businessmen and professionals. Despite some improvement in the economic power of Malays in general, the Malaysian government maintains a policy of discrimination that favours ethnic Malays over other races—including preferential treatment in employment, education, scholarships, business, access to cheaper housing and assisted savings. This special treatment has sparked envy and resentment between non-Malays and Malays.
The Chinese control of the locally-owned sector of the country's economy, meanwhile, has been ceded largely in favour of the Bumiputras/Malays in many essential or strategic industries such as petroleum retailing, transportation, agriculture and etc. Majority of professionals per capita are still dominated by the Indians in the country nevertheless. The rapid economic boom led to a variety of supply problems, however. Labour shortages soon resulted in an influx of millions of foreign workers, many illegal. Cash-rich PLCs and consortia of banks eager to benefit from increased and rapid development began large infrastructure projects. This all ended when the Asian Financial Crisis hit in the fall of 1997, delivering a massive shock to Malaysia's economy.
As with other countries affected by the crisis, there was speculative short-selling of the Malaysian currency, the ringgit. Foreign direct investment fell at an alarming rate and, as capital flowed out of the country, the value of the ringgit dropped from MYR 2.50 per USD to, at one point, MYR 4.80 per USD. The Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange's composite index plummeted from approximately 1300 points to around 400 points in a matter of weeks. After the controversial sacking of finance minister Anwar Ibrahim, a National Economic Action Council was formed to deal with the monetary crisis. Bank Negara imposed capital controls and pegged the Malaysian ringgit at 3.80 to the US dollar. Malaysia refused economic aid packages from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, however, surprising many analysts.
In March, 2005, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published a paper on the sources and pace of Malaysia's recovery, written by Jomo K.S. of the applied economics department, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. The paper concluded that the controls imposed by Malaysia's government neither hurt nor helped recovery. The chief factor was an increase in electronics components exports, which was caused by a large increase in the demand for components in the United States, which was caused, in turn, by a fear of the effects of the arrival of the year 2000 (Y2K) upon older computers and other digital devices.
However, the post Y2K slump of 2001 did not affect Malaysia as much as other countries. This may have been clearer evidence that there are other causes and effects that can be more properly attributable for recovery. One possibility is that the currency speculators had run out of finance after failing in their attack on the Hong Kong dollar in August, 1998 and after the Russian ruble collapsed. (See George Soros)
Regardless of cause/effect claims, rejuvenation of the economy also coincided with massive government spending and budget deficits in the years that followed the crisis. Later, Malaysia enjoyed faster economic recovery compared to its neighbours. In many ways, however, the country has yet to recover to the levels of the pre-crisis era.
While the pace of development today is not as rapid, it is seen to be more sustainable. Although the controls and economic housekeeping may not have been the principal reason for recovery, there is no doubt that the banking sector has become more resilient to external shocks. The current account has also settled into a structural surplus, providing a cushion to capital flight. Asset prices are now a fraction of their pre-crisis heights.
The fixed exchange rate was abandoned in July 2005 in favour of a managed floating system within an hour of China's announcing of the same move. In the same week, the ringgit strengthened a percent against various major currencies and was expected to appreciate further. As of December 2005, however, expectations of further appreciation were muted as capital flight exceeded USD 10 billion.
In September, 2005, Sir Howard J. Davies, director of the London School of Economics, at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur, cautioned Malaysian officials that if they want a flexible capital market, they will have to lift the ban on short-selling put into effect during the crisis. In March 2006, Malaysia removed the ban on short selling. Currently, Malaysia is considered a newly industrialised country.
Roads in the East Malaysia and the eastern coast of peninsular Malaysia are still relatively undeveloped. Those are highly curved roads passing through mountainous regions and many are still unsealed, gravel roads. This has resulted in the continued use of rivers and the necessary use of airplanes as the main or alternative mode of transportation for the interior residents.
Train service in West Malaysia is operated by the Keretapi Tanah Melayu (Malayan Railways) and has extensive railways that connect all major cities and towns on the peninsular, including Singapore. There is also a short railway in Sabah operated by Sabah State Railway that mainly carries freight.
There are seaports throughout the country. The major ports are Port Klang and Port of Tanjung Pelepas in Johor. Other important ports can be found in Tanjung Kidurong, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Kuantan, Pasir Gudang, Penang, Miri, Sandakan and Tawau.
Airports are also found throughout the country. Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is the main airport of the country. Other important airports include Kota Kinabalu International Airport, Penang International Airport, Kuching International Airport, Langkawi International Airport, and Senai International Airport. There are also airports in smaller towns, as well as small domestic airstrips in rural Sabah and Sarawak. There are daily flight services between West and East Malaysia, which is the only convenient option for passengers travelling between the two parts of the country. Malaysia is the home of the first low-cost carrier in the region, AirAsia. It has Kuala Lumpur as its hub and maintains flights to Southeast Asia and China as well. In Kuala Lumpur it operates out of the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in KLIA.
The intercity telecommunication service is provided on peninsular Malaysia mainly by microwave radio relay. International telecommunications are provided through submarine cables and satellite. One of the largest and most significant telecommunication companies in Malaysia is Telekom Malaysia (TM), providing products and services from fixed line, mobile as well as dial-up and broadband Internet access service. It has the near-monopoly of fixed line phone service in the country.
In December, 2004, Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik reported that only 0.85% or 218,004 people in Malaysia used broadband services. However these values are based on subscriber number, whilst household percentage can reflect the situation more accurately. This represented an increase from 0.45% in three quarters. He also stated that the government targeted usage of 5% by 2006 and doubling to 10% by 2008. Lim Keng Yaik had urged local telecommunication companies and service provider to open up the last mile and lower prices to benefit the users.
The Malays, who form the largest community, are defined as Muslims in the Constitution of Malaysia. The Malays play a dominant role politically and are included in a grouping identified as bumiputra. Their native language is Malay (Bahasa Melayu). Malay is the national language of the country.
In the past, Malays wrote in Sanskrit or using Sanskrit-based alphabets. After the 15th century, Jawi (a script based on Arabic) became popular. Over time, romanised script overtook Sanskrit and Jawi as the dominant script. This was largely due to the influence of the colonial education system, which taught children in romanised writing rather than in Arabic script.
The largest non-Malay indigenous tribe is the Iban of Sarawak, who number over 600,000. Some Iban still live in traditional jungle villages in long houses along the Rajang and Lupar rivers and their tributaries, although many have moved to the cities. The Bidayuhs, numbering around 170,000, are concentrated in the southwestern part of Sarawak. The largest indigenous tribe in Sabah is the Kadazan. They are largely Christian subsistence farmers. The 140,000 Orang Asli, or aboriginal peoples, comprise a number of different ethnic communities living in peninsular Malaysia. Traditionally nomadic hunter/gatherers and agriculturalists, many have been sedentarised and partially absorbed into modern Malaysia.
The Chinese population in Malaysia is mostly Buddhist (of Mahayana sect) or Taoist. Chinese in Malaysia speak a variety of Chinese dialects including Mandarin Chinese, Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, and Teochew. A large majority of Chinese in Malaysia, especially those from larger cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and Penang speak English as well. There has also been an increasing number of the present generation Chinese who consider English as their first language. Chinese have historically been dominant in the Malaysian business community.
The Indians in Malaysia are mainly Hindu Tamils from southern India whose native language is Tamil, there are also other Indian communities which is Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi-speaking, living mainly in the larger towns on the west coast of the peninsula. Many middle to upper-middle class Indians in Malaysia also speak English as a first language. A vigorous 200,000-strong Tamil Muslim community also thrives as an independent subcultural group. There are also prevalent Tamil Christian communities in major cities and towns. There is also a sizable Sikh community in Malaysia of over 83,000. Most Indians originally migrated from India as traders, teachers or other skilled workers. A larger number were also part of the forced migrations from India by the British during colonial times to work in the plantation industry.
Eurasians, Cambodians, Vietnamese, Thais, Bugis, Javanese and indigenous tribes make up the remaining population. A small number of Eurasians, of mixed Portuguese and Malay descent, speak a Portuguese-based creole, called Papiá Kristang. There are also Eurasians of mixed Filipino and Spanish descent, mostly in Sabah. Descended from immigrants from the Philippines, some speak Chavacano, the only Spanish-based creole language in Asia. Cambodians and Vietnamese are mostly Buddhists (Cambodians of Theravada sect and Vietnamese, Mahayana sect). Thai Malaysians have been populating a big part of the northern peninsular states of Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Perak, Kelantan and Terengganu. Besides speaking Thai, most of them are Buddhists, celebrates Songkran (Water festival) and can speak Hokkien but some of them are Muslims and speaks Kelantanese Malay Dialect. Bugis and Javanese makes up a part of the population in Johore. Also, there have been many foreigners and expatriates who have made Malaysia their second home, also contributing to Malaysia's population.
Malaysian traditional music is heavily influenced by Chinese and Islamic forms. The music is based largely around the gendang (drum), but includes other percussion instruments (some made of shells); the rebab, a bowed string instrument; the serunai, a double-reed oboe-like instrument; flutes, and trumpets. The country has a strong tradition of dance and dance dramas, some of Thai, Indian and Portuguese origin. In recent years, dikir barat has grown in popularity, and the government has begun to promote it as a national cultural icon. Other artistic forms were also shared with and influenced by neighbouring Indonesia, include wayang kulit (shadow puppet theatre), silat (a stylised martial art) and crafts such as batik, weaving, including the ceremonial cloth pua kumbu, and silver and brasswork.
The most celebrated holiday is the "Hari Kebangsaan" (Independence Day) on 31 August commemorating the independence of the Federation of Malaya in 1957, while Malaysia Day is only celebrated in the state of Sabah on 16 September to commemorate the formation of Malaysia in 1963. Hari Merdeka, as well as Labour Day (1 May), the King's birthday (first Saturday of June) and some other festivals are federal gazetted public holidays.
Muslims in Malaysia celebrate Muslim holidays. The most celebrated festival, Hari Raya Puasa (also called Hari Raya Aidilfitri) is the Malay translation of Eid al-Fitr. It is generally a festival honoured by the Muslims worldwide marking the end of Ramadan, the fasting month. The end of Ramadan is determined by the sight of the new moon. This determines the new month, therefore the end of the fasting month. In addition to Hari Raya Puasa, they also celebrate Hari Raya Haji (also called Hari Raya Aidiladha, the translation of Eid ul-Adha), Awal Muharram (Islamic New Year) and Maulidur Rasul (Birthday of the Prophet).
Chinese in Malaysia typically celebrate festivals that are observed by Chinese around the world. Chinese New Year is the most celebrated among the festivals which lasts for fifteen days and ends with Chap Goh Mei. Other festivals celebrated by Chinese are the Qingming Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival. In addition to traditional Chinese festivals, Buddhists Chinese also celebrate Vesak.
The majority of Indians in Malaysia are Hindus and they celebrate Deepavali, the festival of light, while Thaipusam is a celebration which pilgrims from all over the country flock to Batu Caves. Apart from the Hindus, Sikhs celebrate the Vaisakhi, the Sikh New Year.
Other festivals such as Good Friday (East Malaysia only), Christmas, Hari Gawai of the Ibans (Dayaks), Pesta Menuai (Pesta Kaamatan) of the Kadazan-Dusuns are also celebrated in Malaysia.
Despite most of the festivals being identified with a particular ethnic or religious group, all Malaysians celebrate the festivities together, regardless of their background. For years when the Hari Raya Puasa and Chinese New Year coincided, a portmanteau Kongsi Raya was coined, which is a combination of Gong Xi Fa Cai (a greeting used on the Chinese New Year) and Hari Raya (which could also mean "celebrating together" in Malay. Similarly, the portmanteau Deepa Raya was coined when Hari Raya Puasa and Deepavali coincided.
Malaysia consists of the southern part of the Malay Peninsula, with Thailand to its north, plus Sarawak and Sabah in northern Borneo. Like Singapore, which lies at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, it has had an impressive record of economic growth in recent times.
In the fifteenth century a part of Malaysia was famous as the Kingdom of Malacca (now Melaka), a state that became powerful through its control of local sea routes and shipping. In 1414 the ruler of Malacca adopted Islam, which is the religion of Malaysia today. Seized by the Portuguese as a base for the spice trade in 1511, and held by the Dutch from 1641, Malacca was captured by the British in 1795. The British took control of Singapore in 1819 and in 1867 they established the Straits Settlements, which consisted of Penang Island (Pinang) in the northeast, Malacca, and Singapore, as a crown colony. During the Second World War Malaysia was occupied by the Japanese. In 1948 it received its independence from the British. A guerrilla war then broke out, led by communists who were sympathetic to the Chinese Revolution. Following the defeat of this insurgency, after a four-year military campaign, the country evolved into the modern state it is today. Ethnic tensions exist, principally between the Malays, who are the most numerous, and the Chinese, who are considerably more prosperous. There were riots between the Malays and Chinese in 1969 with heavy loss of life. The many "affirmative action" provisions that are now in place to help Malays at the expense of Chinese and Indians are strongly resented by the latter groups. There are also a number of unresolved territorial disputes with neighboring states-Sabah in Borneo, for example, being claimed by the Philippines.
Fold mountains aligned on a north-south axis dominate the Malay Peninsula. There are seven or eight distinct chains of mountains, often with exposed granite cores. Climbing to 2,189 m (7,181 ft) at Gunung Tahan, the main range divides the narrow eastern coastal belt from the fertile alluvial plains in the west. To the south lies poorly drained lowland, marked by isolated hills, some of which rise to over 1,060 m 0,500 ft). Several smaller rivers have also contributed to the margin of lowland around the peninsular coasts.
About 2,000 km 0,250 miles) east of the Malay Peninsula, northern Borneo has a mangrove fringed coastal plain about 65 km (40 miles) wide, rising behind to hill country averaging 300 m 0,000 ft) in height. This ascends through various secondary ranges to the mountainous main interior range. The granite peak of Gunung Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia, rises from the northern end of this range in Sabah, towering above Kinabalu National Park. Dense rainforest in Sarawak and Sabah support a great diversity of plants and animals.
With a mixture of private enterprise and public management, the Malaysian economy averaged 9 percent annual growth from 1988 to 1995. Poverty is being substantially reduced and real wages are rising. New light industries including electronics are playing an important role in this development: Malaysia is the world's biggest producer of disk drives. Heavy industry has also grown: Malaysia's "national car", the Proton, is now being exported. The traditional mainstays of the economy, however, remain rice, rubber, palm oil, and tin-Malaysia being the world's biggest producer of palm oil and tin. Rice is a problem. Subsistence farming has regularly failed to ensure self-sufficiency in food, and rice production does not meet demand. The main industries on the peninsula are rubber and palm oil processing and manufacturing, light industry, electronics, tin mining, smelting, logging, and timber processing. The main activities on Sabah and Sarawak are logging, petroleum production, and the processing of agricultural products. Malaysia exports more tropical timber than any other country, and the tribal people of Sarawak have been campaigning against the scale of logging on their land. The Asian economic downturn in 1998 saw a depreciation of the Malaysian currency and a marked slowing of the economy.
OFFICIAL NAME Malaysia
FORM OF GOVERNMENT Federal constitutional monarchy with two legislative bodies (Senate and House of Representatives)
CAPITAL Kuala Lumpur
AREA 329,7S0 sq km (127,316 sq miles)
TIME ZONE GMT + 8 hours
PROJECTED POPULATION 2005 24,086,817
POPULATION DENSITY 64.8 per sq km (167.8 per sq mile)
LIFE EXPECTANCY 70.7
INFANT MORTALITY (PER 1,000) 21.7
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE Malay (Bahasa Malaysia)
OTHER LANGUAGES English, Chinese languages, Tamil
LITERACY RATE 83%
RELIGIONS Muslim 53%, Buddhist 17.5%, Confucian and Taoist 11.5%, Christian 8.5%, Hindu 7%, other 2.5%
ETHNIC GROUPS Malay 59%, Chinese 32%, Indian 9%
CURRENCY Ringgit (Malaysian dollar)
ECONOMY Agriculture 42%, services 39%, industry 19%
GNP PER CAPITA US$3,890
CLIMATE Tropical, with northeast monsoon October to February and southwest monsoon May to September
HIGHEST POINT Gunung Kinabalu 4,101 m (13,453 ft)
This webpage was updated 25th August 2009
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