Overview Malaysia

A view from Malacca

Geographical situation:

  • Area: 329.750 km2
  • An original aspect: split in multiple parts, Malaysia is composed of a peninsula (on its western part) on the south of Thailand, two oriental States, Sabah and Sarawak, in the northern part of the Bornéo island, and of several small islands.


  • Constitutional Monarchy
  • Capital: Kuala Lumpur
  • National day: August 31st (Merdeka day); From 2010 on, September 16th, commemorating the date when Sarawak and Sabah join the federation in 1963, is celebrated as the "Malaysia day" .
  • Symbol:


  • Currency: ringgit (MIR)
  • PIB: 214.700 Millions $
  • PIB/hab: 15.300 $
  • Growth rate: 7,9% (2006)
  • Unemployment rate (2006): 3,5%


  • Population (2009): 25.715.819 inhabitants


  • Official language: Malay.


  • Islam

More information on the country:

Culture & institutions

The Malaysian society is made of different communities whose interactions are not always peaceful and sometimes breed harsh tensions. The Malay population, mostly muslim, represents 50% of the total and wield political power. The Chinese population, although smaller ( 30% of the total) control the major part of the economy. Both community live on its own and compete with each other.

Besides Malays and Chinese, the population also incorporate Indians (10% of the total ) and Natives (the Orang Asli, litterally the "human being of the ground"), whose population is formed 3 groups: Semangs (Negritos), Proto-Malays and Senois.


Since the 15th century, Islam has been the State religion in Malaysia. Islam co-exists with Buddhism and hinduism.


  • Amok- Stefan Zweig
  • Lord Jim- Joseph Conrad


A traditional cross roads between China and India, Malaysia has always attracted foreigners, anxious to establish settlements for their trade activities.

The influence from India

As soon as in the 1rst Century, India's influence extends in the region. Indian traders introduce Hinduism and Buddhism in Malaysia, converting malay kings to the new religions.


During the 15th century, a new force emerges with the apparition of the first Malay sultans.

The Europeans

At the end of the 15th century, The Portuguese settle in Malacca. In 1641, the Dutch succeed to them and take control of the town. During the 18th century, it is the turn of the British seeking to secure their interests within the Company of Eastern India.

The British first settle in the island of Penang, wherefrom they engage in a tough competition with the Dutch. A side effect of the French Revolution and of the Traité de la Haye (Whereby The United Provinces was degraded as a mere satellite of the French Republic), Malacca is ceded to the British by the Dutch, anxious to prevent the French from taking control of the City.

In 1826, Singapore, Penang and Malacca form the Straits Settlements. The Straits became rapidly successful in the sea trade. In addition, the discovery of tin ore in the peninsula paved the way for the development of an important mining activity during the Industrial Revolution. As this economic growth required large manpower resources, it gave rise to an important Chinese immigration outflow, which would have a profound impact on the country's demography.

As social unrest developped towards the end of the the 19th century, a Malaysian States Federation was created in 1896, although most of the power remained in the hands of the British.

After the First World War, Malaysia launched the cultivation of Hevea in which it rapidly became one of the most important producers.

The independence

After the Second World War and following the Japanese invasion, the Malays structured their forces and eventually gained the independence of Malaysia. :

  • 1995- First national elections
  • 1957- End of the British sovereignty
  • 1963- Création of the Federation of Malaysia.

Ethnic tensions

In 1969, the country went through a severe crisis marked by harshed ethnic confrontation. The Malaysian population is compounded of 50% muslim Malays, 30% de Chinese, 10% Indians and around 100000 Natives. The Chinese Control more than 40% of the economic activity, compared with 18% for the Malays, the rest belonging to foreign investors.

The tensions decreased with the recent economic boom, but remain vivid.




Malaysia counts amongst the countries having enjoyed the strongest economic growth in recent years. It has thus joined the highly selective Asian tigers Club. Although the country was not saved from periods of recession in 1997 and in 2008, the potential of it's economy remains exceptional and it's fundamentals are excellent. Malaysia is remarkable for it's political stability. The economy is free and open. The country's infrastructures are recent and very good.

Although the Malaysian economy was traditionally turned on agriculture and mining, the country has , since the 80's, invested a lot to develop its manufacturing capabilities and it's services sector. Together those segments contribute nowadays to 90% of the GNP.

Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC)

In order to take advantage of opportunities offered by new technologies, Malaysia is implementing an ambitious program: the multimedia super corridor. Publicly financed, the MSC provides companies and individuals with a comprehensive virtual environment: high technology, telecommunication and logistics.

The MSC statute provides companies with access to a set of tax and tariffs advantage. It guarantees free ownership, facilitates financing and the recruitment of any local or foreign experts. In 2007, 700 multinational companies had obtained the MSC Status.

Buoyant sectors

Malaysia manufactures a large variety of goods: car industry, equipments, semi-conductors, microchips and computers, video... It also holds strong positions in electronics and in the production of palm oil and rubber.

Malaysia has started recently to develop outsourcing.

The most dynamic sectors are Information Technology, financial services (malaysia aims to develop a hub for financial products in Asia), tourism, building and bio-technologies.


The active population in Malaysia represents more than 11 millions persons out of a total population of 26 millions. The major part of the workers is between 25 and 44 years old.

Learn more

Readings Career guide- An interesting guide published by one of the leading jobs website in Asia. The guide presents a global overview of the Malaysian economy and its buoyant sectors. It provides additional perspective on neighbouring countries (Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, India and China) and gives useful tips on how to manage a job search or a career in Asia.

Visa and work authorization

Working in Malaysia necessitates to get a work permit("Employment pass"). The process to obtain the visa is long and complicated, which can easily frustrate those who would like to apply directly. The process can nevertheless be subcontracted to specialized agencies.

For more information, visit the Ministry of Immigration in Malaysia website.

Employment of spouses

Spouses of EP"Employment pass"holders are granted a "Dependant pass" that enables them to live in the country while preventing them from working. As a consequence, spouses who want to work must place the order themselves.
Check the situation of Malaysia on the Permits Foundation website, a foundation for promoting the right for spouses to exert a local professional activity.


Work regulation

Work relations are essentially ruled by the Employment act of 1955, reviewed in 1998.

Work duration

  • Weekly hours: 48h
  • Day hours limitation: 8h
  • Weekly days off: sunday
  • holidays: 10

Social cover

  • Retirement: Central Provident Fund
  • Social contributions: 1,5% paid by the employer; 0,5% paid by the employee

Work contract

  • the "contract of service/employment", is supposed to be existing as soon as the work relation starts. The contract can be drafted eitheir on a temporary or on an undetermined duration basis.


  • No minimum wage

Learn more:

Malaysian companies

AM Bank Group - Banking

Air Asia - Air Transportation

Axiata - telecommunications

CIMB Group Holding- Banking
Headquartered in Kuala Lumpur and covering most of Asean region

Genting - Real Estate, Casinos & Resorts management

Hong Leong Bank- Banking
►Careers (link to jobstreet)

IOI Group - Food Industries

MISC - Sea Transportation

Maxis - telecommunication

Maybank - Banking
►Careers at Maybank

PPB - Agriculture and sugar refining
No careers section

Petronas - Oil & Gas, Chemistry

Public Bank - Banking

RHB - Banking

Sime Darby - Large conglomerate with activities in Plantations, Health, Industries, Energy

Tenaga - Tenaga Nasional Berhad - Energy/Electricty

YTL - Real estate & Energy


Starting a business

Creating one's own activity is a good solution for those who want to take advantage of their expatriation to start or pursue an entrepreneur career.

Learn more: 


Practical life


Malaysia France University centre: a website to support students exchanges between France and Malaysia.