Malaysian flag

Southeast Asia’s most developed country after Singapore, Malaysia is an upper middle income country which has proven itself resilient to economic shocks and rightly deserves its status as one of the most popular investment destinations in the region.

One of the original Asian Tigers, the economy is characterised by a strong top-down approach which has worked well in some scenarios, but not in others. 
Following the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-8, its decision to impose currency controls was highly criticised by the international community, but was ultimately vindicated as the country quickly returned to business-as-normal, unlike its northern neighbour Thailand.

Other government initiatives have proved more costly and less successful, such as the choice to concentrate on the development of an indigenous automobile industry while Thailand became the regional centre for international car manufacturers.

In terms of development, there is a huge gap between peninsula Malaysia and the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo. Agriculture, fisheries and extractive industries play a larger role in the latter.

In contrast to its highly developed economy, the Malaysian political scene retains a strong third world character. While it is a stable democracy, it has been ruled by the same party for decades. Harassment of opposition parties and media censorship are routine, and the government generally shows little hesitation in taking a heavy handed approach to suppressing popular dissent.

Another form of resentment is caused by the so called bhumiputra policy, which gives preferential treatment to ethnic Malays, including the requirement that at least one director of all companies is reserved for Malays. Given the relative prosperity of the country’s Chinese community, this may appear justified as a form of positive discrimination were it not for the fact that it does not extend this to the severely deprived Tamil community.

Opportunities for international business exist in almost all sectors, including construction, energy, finance, IT, professional services and the creative industries.

English is widely spoken and its workforce generally has a high level of education making it a very attractive place for doing business.


Population: 28,728,607
Capital City: Kuala Lumpur
Government: Federal State, Multi-party Democracy
Languages: Malay
GDP per capita (PPP): $14,700
Growth Rate: 6%-8% per annum


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