COLONIAL STATE AND POLICIES IN MALAYSIA
Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy located in Southeast Asia. It consists of thirteen states and three federal territories and has a total landmass of 329,847 square kilometres (127,350 sq mi) separated by the South China Sea into two similarly sized regions, Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia (Malaysian Borneo). Peninsular Malaysia shares a land and maritime border with Thailand and maritime borders with Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. East Malaysia shares land and maritime borders with Brunei and Indonesia and a maritime border with the Philippines. The capital city is Kuala Lumpur, while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government. In 2010 the population was 28.33 million, with 22.6 million living in Peninsular Malaysia. The southernmost point of continental Eurasia, Tanjung Piai, is in Malaysia, located in the tropics. It is one of 17 megadiverse countries on earth, with large numbers of endemic species.
HISTORY OF MALAYSIA
Malaysia has its origins in the Malay Kingdoms present in the area which, from the 18th century, became subject to the British Empire. The first British territories were known as the Straits Settlements, whose establishment was followed by the Malay kingdoms becoming British protectorates. The territories on Peninsular Malaysia were first unified as the Malayan Union in 1946. Malaya was restructured as the Federation of Malaya in 1948, and achieved independence on 31 August 1957. Malaya united with North Borneo, Sarawak, and Singapore on 16 September 1963, with si being added to give the new country the name Malaysia. Less than two years later in 1965, Singapore was expelled from the federation.
The country is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, which plays a large role in politics. The constitution declares Islam the state religion while protecting freedom of religion. The government system is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system and the legal system is based on common law. The head of state is the king, known as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. He is an elected monarch chosen from the hereditary rulers of the nine Malay states every five years. The head of government is the Prime Minister.
Since independence, Malaysia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with GDP growing at an average 6.5% per annum for almost 50 years. The economy has traditionally been fueled by its natural resources, but is expanding in the sectors of science, tourism, commerce and medical tourism. Today, Malaysia has a newly industrialised market economy, ranked third largest in Southeast Asia and 29th largest in the world. It is a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the East Asia Summit and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and a member of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the Non-Aligned Movement.
COLONY OF MALAYSIA
The name “Malaysia” is a combination of the word “Malay” The word Melayu in the Malay may derive from the Tamil words Malai and ur meaning “mountain” and “city, land”, respectively. Malayadvipa was the word used by ancient Indian traders when referring to the Malay Peninsula. Whether or not it originated from these roots, it the word “melayu” or “mlayu” may have been used in early Malay/Javanese to mean to steadily accelerate or run. This term was applied to describe the strong current of the river Melayu in Sumatra. The name was later possibly adopted by the Melayu Kingdom that existed in the 7th century on Sumatra. “Melayu” was later used as the name of the 7-13th century Melayu Kingdom, formed on Sumatra.
Before the onset of European colonisation, the Malay peninsula was known natively as Tanah Melayu (‘Malay Land’). Under a racial classification created by a German scholar Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, the natives of Maritime Southeast Asia were grouped into a single category, the Malay race. Following the expedition of a French navigator Jules Dumont d’Urville to Oceania in 1826, he later proposed the terms of Malaysia, Micronesia and Melanesia to the Société de Géographie in 1831, distinguishing these Pacific cultures and island groups from the existing term Polynesia. Dumont d’Urville described Malaysia as “an area commonly known as the East Indies”. In 1850, the English ethnologist George Samuel Windsor Earl, writing in the Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia, proposed naming the islands of Southeast Asia as Melayunesia or Indunesia, favouring the former. In modern terminology, “Malay” remains the name of an ethnoreligious group of Austronesian people predominantly inhabiting the Malay peninsula and portions of adjacent islands of Southeast Asia, including the east coast of Sumatra, the coast of Borneo, and smaller islands that lie between these areas.
The state that gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1957 took the name the Federation of Malaya, chosen in preference to other potential names such as Langkasuka, after the historic kingdom located at the upper section of the Malay Peninsula in the 1st millennium CE. The name “Malaysia” was adopted in 1963 when the existing states of the Federation of Malaya, plus Singapore, North Borneo and Sarawak formed a new federation. One theory suggests the name was chosen due to the addition of “si” to “Malaya”, representing the inclusion of Singapore, North Borneo, and Sarawak, in Malaya in 1963. Politicians in the Philippines contemplated renaming their state “Malaysia” before the modern country took the name.
POLITIES OF MALAYSIA
Malaysia is a federal constitutional elective monarchy. The system of government is closely modelled on that of the Westminster parliamentary system, a legacy of British colonial rule. The head of state is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, commonly referred to as the King. The King is elected to a five-year term by and from among the nine hereditary rulers of the Malay states; the other four states, which have titular Governors, do not participate in the selection. By informal agreement the position is systematically rotated among the nine, and has been held by Abdul Halim of Kedah since December 2011. The King’s role has been largely ceremonial since changes to the constitution in 1994, picking ministers and members of the upper house.
Legislative power is divided between federal and state legislatures. The bicameral federal parliament consists of the lower house, the House of Representatives and the upper house, the Senate. The 222-member House of Representatives is elected for a maximum term of five years from single-member constituencies. All 70 senators sit for three-year terms; 26 are elected by the 13 state assemblies, and the remaining 44 are appointed by the King upon the Prime Minister’s recommendation. The parliament follows a multi-party system and the government is elected through a first-past-the-post system. Since independence Malaysia has been governed by a multi-party coalition known as the Barisan Nasional.
Each state has a unicameral State Legislative Assembly whose members are elected from single-member constituencies. State governments are led by Chief Ministers, who are state assembly members from the majority party in the assembly. In each of the states with a hereditary ruler, the Chief Minister is normally required to be a Malay, appointed by the ruler upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister. Parliamentary elections are held at least once every five years, the most recent of which took place in May 2013. Registered voters of age 21 and above may vote for the members of the House of Representatives and, in most of the states, for the state legislative chamber. Voting is not mandatory. Except for state elections in Sarawak, by convention state elections are held concurrently with the federal election.
POLICIES OF MALAYSIA
Malaysia’s foreign policy is officially based on the principle of neutrality and maintaining peaceful relations with all countries, regardless of their political system. The government attaches a high priority to the security and stability of Southeast Asia, and seeks to further develop relations with other countries in the region. Historically the government has tried to portray Malaysia as a progressive Islamic nation while strengthening relations with other Islamic states. A strong tenet of Malaysia’s policy is national sovereignty and the right of a country to control its domestic affairs.
The policy towards territorial disputes by the government is one of pragmatism, with the government solving disputes in a number of ways, such as bringing the case to the International Court of Justice. The Spratly Islands are disputed by many states in the area, and the entirety of the South China Sea is claimed by China. Nevertheless, unlike its neighbours of Vietnam and the Philippines, Malaysia has avoided any conflicts with China. Brunei and Malaysia in 2009 announced an end to claims of each other’s land, and to resolve issues related to their maritime borders. The Philippines has a dormant claim to Sabah. Singapore’s land reclamation has caused tensions, and maritime border disputes exist with Indonesia.
Malaysia has never recognised Israel and has no diplomatic ties with it. It has remained a strong supporter of the State of Palestine, and has called for Israel to be taken to the International Criminal Court over the Gaza flotilla raid. Malaysian peacekeeping forces are present in Lebanon and have contributed to many other UN peacekeeping missions.
The Malaysian Armed Forces have three branches, the Royal Malaysian Navy, the Malaysian Army, and the Royal Malaysian Air Force. There is no conscription, and the required age for voluntary military service is 18. The military uses 1.5% of the country’s GDP, and employs 1.23% of Malaysia’s manpower. Currently, Malaysia is undergoing major program to expand and modernize all three branches of its armed forces.
Malaysia is a sovereign country located on the Malay Peninsula and a northern portion of the Island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Malaysia comprises thirteen states and three federal territories with a total land area of 329,847 square kilometres (127,355 sq mi). The capital of Malaysia is Kuala Lumpur, while Putrajaya is the seat of the federal government.
The population stands at over 25 million. The country is separated into two regions—Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo—by the South China Sea. Malaysia borders Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The country is located near the equator and experiences a tropical climate.
Malaysia is headed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and politically led by a Prime Minister. The government is closely modeled after the Westminster parliamentary system
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