Malaysia – a bustling melting-pot of races and religions where Malays, Indians, Chinese and many other ethnic groups live together. This multiculturalism has made Malaysia home to hundreds of colourful festivals. As a people, Malaysians are very relaxed, warm and friendly and love to celebrate and socialise.
Geographically, Malaysia is almost as diverse as its culture. 11 states and 2 federal territories (Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya) form Peninsular Malaysia which is separated by the South China Sea from East Malaysia which includes the 2 states (Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo) and a third federal territory, the island of Labuan.
One of Malaysia’s key attractions is its extreme contrasts. Towering skyscrapers look down upon wooden houses built on stilts while five-star hotels sit just meters away from ancient reefs. The world’s tallest twin tower skyscraper, the Petronas Towers, houses the headquarters of the national oil company, Petronas.
Rugged mountains reach dramatically for the sky while their rainforest-clad slopes sweep down to floodplains teeming with forest life. Cool highland hideaways roll down to warm, sandy beaches and rich, humid mangroves.
Malaysia is a relatively newly industrialised market economy. Malaysia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with GDP growing an average 6.5 percent annually from 1957 to 2005. In 2011, the GDP (PPP) was about $450 billion, the third largest economy in ASEAN and the 29th largest in the world. In 1991, former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir bin Mohamad outlined his ideal in Vision 2020, in which Malaysia would become a self-sufficient industrialized nation by 2020. Najib Razak said Malaysia could attain developed country status in 2018 much earlier from the actual target in 2020.
The country has developed into a centre of Islamic banking and is the country with the highest numbers of female workers in that industry. Knowledge-based services are also expanding. Malaysia is also one of the world’s largest exporters of semiconductor devices, electrical devices, and IT and communication products.
The continued economic growth and move towards becoming a developed country has led to many professional expat contractors looking for new contracting opportunities in Malaysia. A key consideration when working as an independent contractor in Malaysia is Foreign contractors will need assistance with securing the correct work permit as Immigration controls and regulations are quite stringent.