Malaysia Welcomes the World – Aired November 2008
Malaysia is located in Southeast Asia and has its land mass over 2 areas. The main peninsula borders Thailand and Singapore, while the rest of its territory is on the island of Borneo, bordering Brunei and Indonesia.
Just north of the equator, the tropical climate of Malaysia is home to some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet, and a collection of unrivalled rainforests and national parks.
Malaysia’s history starts with the establishment of the Malacca sultanate around the 13th century. During that time, it was renowned as a major port for traders both from the east and west. Malacca’s profitable position was envied by many and resulted in the Portuguese invasion in 1511. This was followed by a Dutch reign, and finally the British empire took control in 1815.
The country finally gained her independence from the British in 1963, and was led by Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first Prime Minister.
Today the country is a federal constitutional monarchy, with 13 states and 3 federal territories. The King is elected for a 5-year term from the 9 hereditary sultans of the traditional Malay states. There is a federal parliament, and each state also has its own Executive Council. National elections are held every 5 years.
Malaysian society boasts a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious hue, with Malay, Chinese and Indian ethnic groups. While the country is predominantly Islamic, other religions are widely practised. The country’s population has been predicted to reach nearly 30 million by 2010.
In terms of economic welfare, Malaysia ranks second in Southeast Asia. The country remains one of the world’s largest producers of rubber, palm oil, timber and tin. Export of electronic products is one of the main contributors to the nation’s economic growth. Malaysia is also one of the few Asian countries that has its own car manufacturing industry. In recent years, the service industry, especially tourism, has become a main contributor to the economy. The stability of the economy has managed to attract tremendous foreign investment into the country over the past few years.
The capital, Kuala Lumpur, today is a blend of modernity and traditional charm. A thriving metropolis with spectacular skyscrapers, the city still has many historical buildings and tranquil spots of nature.
The government is keen to encourage eligible foreigners to stay in Malaysia on a multiple-entry social visit pass under a programme called “Malaysia My Second Home”. To this effect, the country highlights itself as a family-friendly destination, with a relatively low crime rate. The country is also increasingly becoming the preferred choice for tertiary and continuing education in the region.
With its relatively low cost of living yet high quality of life, Malaysia offers a warm welcome to all.
Malaysia’s tourism industry is the second largest contributor to the economy. The sector is in robust shape, and has seen healthy growth in tourist arrivals over the last few years. The majority of the tourists were from other Asian countries, attracted by the proximity and diversity of the country.
The country boasts numerous natural attractions and an abundance of biodiversity. From white sandy beaches to exotic marine life, dense rainforests to some of the oldest and largest caves in the world – the wonders are endless. In addition, about 75% of Malaysia’s land area remains forested, with 60% virgin rainforest that has remained unchanged for millions of years.
Medical expertise in Malaysia is on par with Western nations, and the country has gained a reputation as one of the preferred locations for medical tourism and healthcare tours. The country boasts highly efficient staff and modern healthcare facilities. Most private hospitals in the country have internationally-recognised quality standards. The industry plays host to both those in need of critical medical treatment, as well as those looking for cosmetic and preventative care.
The sector is also concentrating its efforts on the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions, or MICE, segment. With the success of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, the MICE sector is already booming and attracting many people to the country. The country hopes its myriad natural, cultural and adventure attractions will help to further promote it as a premier destination for global incentives.
PLACES TO STAY WHILE IN KUALA LUMPUR
Kuala Lumpur has a wide range of accommodation that can cater to all budgets. From grand 5-star hotels for those who wish to live it up, to budget hostels – you are sure to find something that will suit your needs in an area of your choice.
The city’s shopping and entertainment hub in the Golden Triangle is an extremely popular area with many shopping malls and a variety of fantastic eating spots.
The commercial centre located in the heart of the city is a hotspot for shopping, clubbing and business activities. The area also includes the Petronas Twin Towers and the Suria KLCC Shopping Mall.
There are also a wide range of hotels to choose from in lesser-known areas such as at Putrajaya and Cyberjaya. Seri Kembangan, a new modern city near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, also offers good choices.
The Mid Valley Megamall, offering fashion outlets, entertainment opportunities and dining places, is perhaps the most well-known and visited mall in Kuala Lumpur.
A stretch of road with a large bazaar makes up Chinatown. A bargain-hunter’s paradise, here, one can find stalls selling all manner of goods from bootleg fashion to fancy souvenirs and electronic gadgets.
Petaling Jaya is still mainly an urban area that accommodates the large population that live and work in the Klang Valley. Although not a tourist hub, there are ample shopping opportunities in large malls and hypermarkets.
THINGS TO DO IN MALAYSIA
From the bustling city to the peaceful beaches, Malaysia offers visitors plenty to do.
The Petronas Twin Towers in the capital Kuala Lumpur are the world’s tallest freestanding twin towers. Both the 88-storey towers soar more than 1,400 feet above the city skyline. A sky-bridge connects the 2 towers on the 41st floor, enabling the public to have a bird’s eye view of the whole city.
The country is also a premier shopping destination in Southeast Asia. The exemption of duty on a range of items has resulted in shops offering more competitive pricing, and shoppers are quick to pick up on these bargains. Modern shopping malls and traditional bazaars offer the intrepid bargain-hunter interesting finds of all sorts.
Malaysia is also a haven for jungle trekkers. The country boasts terrain from mountains and hills, to numerous national parks and forest reserves. The rainforests that can be found here date back to more than 150 million years, with some of the world’s rarest species of flora and fauna.
With a long coastline and numerous off-shore islands, the country is a haven for beachcombers. Malaysia boasts some of the most beautiful islands in Asia – endless stretches of palm-fringed beaches, emerald seas combined with tropical weather, will make a vacation here one to remember.
In addition, its breathtaking underwater world of colourful marine life is fast turning the country into one of the leading dive destinations of the world. Boasting an incredible bio-diversity that is one of the richest marine environments in the Indo-Pacific Basin, it is no wonder that divers that keep coming back.
For those who prefer land activities, Malaysia is a golfing paradise with professional courses that adhere to international standards. The aesthetically-designed courses appeal to both avid and casual players, and the varied settings lend to the thrill and challenge of playing in the country.
Malaysia is also an excellent choice for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city-living. Ranging from top-of-the-line luxury resorts to quaint urban havens of relaxation, the country has numerous opportunities for the ultimate spa experience. Combining the best of Asian traditions with modern beauty treatments, treatments can be enjoyed either in pristine natural environments or in the heart of the city.
FORMULA 1 EVENT IN MALAYSIA
Malaysia aspires to become the hub for motor-racing activities in the region.
The Formula 1 Malaysian Prix is the country’s biggest racing event, attracting thousands of local and international racing enthusiasts. 2008 was the 10th time the country was playing host to this exclusive international racing event.
In addition to the thrilling Formula 1 race, other support races were also held. As in previous years, the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia and Formula BMW Asia, as well as the GP2 Asia Series provided additional excitement. A new race – the Speedcar Series – was introduced, whereby the drivers’ skills are purely tested as the V8 620bph stock cars used for the championship are not fitted with any electronic driver aids.
The events took place at the world-acclaimed Sepang International Circuit. Located about 40 minutes away from Kuala Lumpur city, the state-of-the-art circuit was completed in a record of 14 months and was officially opened in 1999. As a recognition of its ultra-modern facilities, the circuit was given the honour to incorporate the F1 logo in its name.
The circuit is considered by many to be one of the most technical circuits in the Formula 1 series. At just over 5 kilometres, the track features 15 turns and 8 straights with access speed of more than 300km/h. The track is also wide enough to allow ample opportunities for overtaking, thus adding to the thrill of any race.
The track is electronically-linked through a network of fibre-optic cabling system along the track to 27 closed-circuit television cameras. This allows every incident along the circuit to be recorded and centrally-monitored at the Race Control Room.
The facility can accommodate up to 130,000 spectators at a time, spread out over its Grand Stand and 18 corporate suites. The 1.3 kilometre-long double frontage grandstand affords spectators a view of the circuit’s longest straight.
Safety is of the utmost importance at all times, and medical facilities are available on-site should an unfortunate incident happen.
Malaysia boasts 39 airports, which include international, domestic and short take-off and landing ports. All airports in the country are operated and managed by Malaysia Airports. Apart from management and operation activities, the company also looks after the maintenance and development of the various airports. In all its activities, importance is always given to operational efficiency, safety and security of passengers, as well as cargo and aircraft operations. The company also has a few subsidiary companies that offer a range of aviation and non-aviation-related products and services.
The main airport in the country is Kuala Lumpur International Airport, also known as KLIA. Opened in June 1998, KLIA is the result is the result of a visionary strategy to meet the 21st century needs of the country’s aviation industry. KLIA has since matured into a model airport, and is fast emerging as the gateway of choice in the region. In 2007, over 25 million passengers passed through the airport.
KLIA has already garnered numerous prestigious awards for itself, including World’s Best Airport for 15-25 million passengers per annum. The airport has retained this title for 3 consecutive years.
Currently, KLIA comprises 2 buildings – the Main Terminal Building for all domestic and some international flights, as well as the Satellite Building for international arrivals and departures.
In March 2006, a new low-cost carrier terminal was opened. With a capacity of 10 million passengers per annum, the new terminal is an extension of the existing KLIA facilities. The same year, the terminal was named Low-Cost Airport of the Year.
The airport hotel at KLIA offers 5-star facilities to cater to travellers and the general public. It is part of the masterplan for the development of the entire KLIA project, which currently includes the airport and the Sepang F1 circuit.