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Country Reports

Malaysia Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad continues to enjoy high approval ratings for his leadership. However his four-party governing coalition, Hope's Pact (Pakatan Harapan: PH), is fragile despite its comfortable majority. PH's biggest constituent party, the People's Justice Party (Parti Keadilan Rakyat: PKR), is split, and the disunity within the PKR has increased uncertainty over the timing of Mahathir's planned succession. The opposition has become stronger following the formalisation of the alliance between two Malay-based parties, UMNO and PAS. The government's plan to reduce the number of low-skilled foreign workers over the next five years is likely to affect the construction and plantation sectors. It also plans to retrain domestic workers to improve worker productivity as part of a policy to attract higher-value industries such as electronics, which will benefit from tax breaks. The government's goal to pursue fiscal consolidation and reduce debt amid the current macro-economic landscape is a challenging task. In particular, the lack of revenue diversification would remain a key concern for investors, as the revenue slack resulting from abolition of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in May 2018 is yet to be filled by the Sales and Services Tax (SST). This increases the reliance on petroleum revenues to fill the gap. Slowdown in China and the ongoing China-US trade frictions will continue to weigh on the growth prospects for Malaysia's domestic economy. Regardless of the impetus from fiscal and monetary policies, IHS Markit remains wary of the outlook, with risks tilted to the downside, and expects full-year growth to average 4.4% in 2020.There is a persistent risk of low-capability terrorist attacks in Malaysia. However, such risks are mitigated by a highly effective counter-terrorism police capacity. The Malaysian police periodically arrest people suspected of planning terrorist attacks.
Last update: November 16, 2019

Operational Outlook

Transport, power, and telecommunications infrastructure is of very high standard, particularly in Peninsular Malaysia. The quality of labour is also generally good, but there is a shortage of high-skilled workers. Malaysia also depends on foreign labour for low-skilled work. Although there are ongoing high-level corruption trials, most notably 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 telecoms, utilities, and energy can crowd out private companies. The bureaucracy poses no major obstacle to business operations.

Last update: October 19, 2019

Terrorism

Elevated

Regular arrests of Islamic State-linked militants indicate persisting intent to mount attacks in Malaysia by domestic and foreign Islamist militants. Nevertheless, the fact that these cells have been disrupted before they could stage attacks underlines that robust counter-terrorism efforts are effective. Nevertheless, there remains an elevated risk of smaller-scale attacks by homegrown cells that evade detection using IEDs and small-arms targeting soft assets, such as hospitality and Western establishments, marketplaces or malls, and security forces, particularly in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Malacca, and Johor.

Last update: October 22, 2019

Crime

The most common form of crime in Malaysia is petty crime including burglary, vehicle theft, bag-snatching, and pickpocketing, particularly in greater Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru. There remains a perception among many Malaysians of increasing violent crime, such as robbery and forced break-ins. A number of highly publicised violent robberies and attempted kidnappings in middle-class neighbourhoods and upmarket shopping malls around Kuala Lumpur have left many residents feeling unsafe. Organised crime gangs operate mainly in large cities such as greater Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru, but they rarely affect the wider community. Crime is a major political issue, and its reduction remains a key government policy objective.

Last update: July 31, 2019

War Risks

Since October 2018, Malaysia and Singapore have been engaged in a territorial dispute following Malaysia's unilateral extension of the Johor Bahru port limits into waters claimed by Singapore. This increases the risk of commercial vessels being seized in the region, but military confrontation is highly unlikely. In the long-running territorial dispute in the South China Sea, Malaysia will probably pursue a diplomatic resolution. China and Malaysia will probably seek to avoid direct military confrontation, but 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.

Last update: October 22, 2019

Social Stability

Elevated

Protests in Malaysia are infrequent, while violent unrest is even rarer. Unrest that does take place is particularly likely in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia's opposition coalition alleges that the government is sidelining the majority Malay-Muslim population, making ethnic and religiously motivated anti-government protests more likely. Such protests will typically take place in designated squares or stadiums. Labour strikes and protests continue to be rare.

Last update: October 22, 2019

Health Risk

Severe

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.

Routine Vaccinations

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).

Other Vaccinations

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.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Very high

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.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

Moderate

Finally, visitors should be aware that Malaysia is home to one of the highest rates of credit card fraud in the world.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

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.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +60
Police, Ambulance: 999
Fire Dept.: 994

Electricity

Voltage: 240 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019