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14

INTRODUCTION TO MALAYSIA

which evolved into the

Federation of Malaya in

1948, while Singapore,

Sabah and Sarawak

became Crown Colonies.

Independence for Malaya

came in 1957 following

amicable negotiations

between Britain and a

Malayan delegation led

by Tunku Abdul Rahman

Putra Al-Haj (subsequently

Malaya’s first Prime Minister).

Merdeka (Independence)

was declared in Coronation

Park, Melaka, and proclaimed

at Merdeka Stadium in Kuala

Lumpur on 31

st

August, 1957.

In 1963, Malaya was

expanded through a

merger with the former

Crown Colonies of Sabah,

Sarawak, and Singapore

to form Malaysia. In 1965,

however, Singapore ceased

to be part of Malaysia

and became a separate,

independent country.

The People

Malaysia’s population

(2014) is approximately

30 million. The majority

of Malaysians are Malay-

Muslim Bumiputeras who

make up about 55% of the

population, followed by

Chinese (24%), Non-Muslim

Bumiputeras (13%) Indians

(7%), and Others (1%).

Bumiputeras (“sons of

the soil”) is the official term

for people of Malay and/or

indigenous ethnicity, who

enjoy certain privileges

designed to upgrade their

economic status. The non-

Muslim Bumiputeras consist

of Orang Asli aboriginal

communities from West

Malaysia; Kadazanduzun,

Bajau, Murut and other

indigenous groups from

Sabah, and Iban, Bidayuh,

Melanau, Orang Ulu

and other indigenous

groups from Sarawak.

The national language is

Bahasa Malaysia. English is

also widely spoken along

with many Chinese, Indian

and native dialects.

Religion

Malaysia is a modern

Islamic country; Islam is

professed by over 60% of

the population, and is the

official religion. Other faiths

however, such as Buddhism,

Christianity, Hinduism,

Confucianism, Taoism, and

other native beliefs are

freely practiced; temples,

mosques and churches sit

comfortably side by side.

Religious faith has given

Malaysia some of its

finest landmarks. Notable

modern mosques include

the National Mosque, the

Blue Mosque in Shah Alam

(the largest in Malaysia),

the Putrajaya Mosque and

the Crystal Mosque in

Kuala Terengganu. Historic

mosques include the

Jamek (Friday) Mosque

in Kuala Lumpur, the

exquisite Ubudiah Mosque

in Kuala Kangsar and the

artfully concealed Indian

Mosque in Kuching.

Major Hindu monuments

include the Batu Caves

temple complex in Selangor,

the Sri Mahamariamman

Temple in Penang and the

Sri Sundararaja Perumal

Temple in Klang. Buddhism

has contributed the Wat

Machimmaran in Kelantan,

(with the largest sitting

Buddha in Southeast

Asia), as well as the Kek

Lok Si Temple in Penang,

amongst others.

The famous Snake

Temple in Penang and the

ancient Cheng Hoong Teng

Temple in Melaka stand out

amongst the many Chinese

The Malayan Banking Group’s corporate float at the 2013 Merdeka Day

Parade. The faces and costumes in the float illustrate the ethnic diversity of

the Group’s employees.