Malaysia Country Report
Following the conclusion of the 14th general election, Malaysia's government changed for the first time in 61 years. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's coalition government holds simple parliamentary majority with 113 of 222 seats. The new government will probably remain stable until a by-election is expected to be triggered for the prime-minister-in waiting, Anwar Ibrahim. The new government is currently implementing its 100-day programme that involved repealing the goods and services tax. Contract reviews, particularly in large infrastructure, are highly likely.
Transport, power, and telecommunications infrastructure is of very high standard, particularly in Peninsular Malaysia. The quality of labour is generally high, but there is a shortage of highly skilled workers. Although there are ongoing high-level corruption investigations involving politicians and their relatives, particularly against former prime minister Najib Razak, corruption in Malaysia generally poses a lower risk to business compared with other Southeast Asian countries except Singapore. However, the presence of major government-linked corporations in sectors such as transport, utilities, and banking will probably crowd out private companies. The bureaucracy poses no major obstacle to business operations.
A grenade attack on a Puchong nightclub near Kuala Lumpur in June 2016 was the first time in several decades that terrorists successfully carried out an operation in Peninsular Malaysia. The attack was notable because it was carried out under the instruction of a Malaysian fighting for the Islamic State in Syria. Malaysian Islamic State fighters appear to be intensifying their efforts to urge their compatriots to carry out domestic attacks, thereby increasing the risk of further low-capability attacks. However, the risk is mitigated by a highly effective counter-terrorism police and detention of individuals accused of recruiting members for terrorism across social media platforms.
Malaysia will probably pursue a diplomatic resolution in the long-running territorial dispute in the South China Sea, which involves Brunei, China, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. However, Malaysia will probably change the name of its part of South China Sea to reflect its sovereignty over the part, as has been done by other Southeast Asian countries. Although China and Malaysia will probably seek to avoid direct military confrontation, the increased presence of Chinese coastguard and fishing vessels in close proximity to Malaysian forces will increase the risk of limited maritime confrontations, involving the firing of water cannon, ramming, and even exchanges of gunfire.
Protests over ethnic, political, and religious issues are common, particularly in Kuala Lumpur. Following a change in government in May 2018, the likelihood of protests by opposition groups has declined. However, ethnic groups will probably increase protests – particularly targeting commercial property operated by minority communities – if the government express intent to amend the Bumiputera policy. Labour strikes and protests continue to be rare.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for travelers over one year of age arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission and for travelers who have been in transit for >12 hours in an airport located in a country with risk of YFV transmission.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Japanese Encephalitis: For stays of longer than one month in a rural zone during the rainy season (for children over the age of one). The vaccine is administered in a local medical facility.
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Malaysia is located in an active seismic zone and was hit by the December 2004 tsunami that devastated the region.
Visitors should also be aware that the monsoon season - often responsible for devastating floods - lasts from April until October in the southwest and from October until February in the northeast.
The common practice in nearby Indonesia of burning farmland to make it more fertile has also led to an increase in air pollution in Malaysia, which could harm the health of visitors. Air pollution could also disrupt air travel in the country.
Finally, visitors should be aware that Malaysia is home to one of the highest rates of credit card fraud in the world.
Malaysia's climate is equatorial, hot and humid throughout the year. Rain storms strike regularly and are sometimes violent. Thunderstorms are the most intense between August and November along the western coast and are often accompanied by strong winds. From December until February the east coast is particularly wet, with frequent torrential rains and floods. The temperature of the ocean remains constant throughout the year at 28°C.
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