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 "Malaysia Boleh!" (Malaysia, yes we can!)-- a typical phrase to praise the country.

 Malaysia... Truly Asia...

Aiyoh, now only got a site for Malaysia? Describe Malaysia here lah!

Malaysia is a country consisting of thirteen states and three federal territories in Southeast Asia. The country is separated into two regions, Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo, by the South China Sea. Malaysia borders Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei. The country is located near the equator and experiences a tropical climate. Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy with the head of state being the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the head of government the Prime Minister.

Pictured here is the Petronas Twin Towers, previously the world's tallest buildings before being surpassed by Taipei 101 (the title is now held by the Burj Dubai Khalifa). However, the towers are still the tallest twin buildings in the world. This can be seen in the Sean Connery flick Entrapment. Other notable productions shot in Malaysia include Anna and the King (doubling for Siam), the first Survivor (Pulau Tiga off the western coast of Borneo), and South Pacific (some sources claim footage of Tioman Island, off Malaysia's south east coast, were also featured), as well as numerous Bollywood and Kollywood movies.

History

Malaysia as a unified state did not exist until 1963. Previously, a set of colonies was established by the United Kingdom from the late-18th century, and the western half of modern Malaysia was composed of several separate kingdoms that kept fighting each other. This group of colonies was known as British Malaya until its dissolution in 1946, when it was reorganized as the Malayan Union. Due to widespread opposition, it was reorganized again as the Federation of Malaya in 1948 and later gained independence on 31 August 1957. Singapore, Sarawak, British North Borneo, and the Federation of Malaya joined to form Malaysia on 16 September 1963. The early years of the new union were marred by an armed conflict with Indonesia and the expulsion of Singapore on 9 August 1965. The Southeast Asian nation experienced an economic boom and underwent rapid development during the late-20th century. Rapid growth during the 1980s and 1990s, averaging 8% from 1991 to 1997, has transformed Malaysia into a newly industrialised country. Because Malaysia is one of three countries that control the Strait of Malacca, international trade plays a large role in its economy. At one time, it was the largest producer of tin, rubber and palm oil in the world. Manufacturing has a large influence in the country's economy. Malaysia has a biodiverse range of flora and fauna, and is also considered one of the 18 megadiverse countries.

Demography

Malays form the majority of the population of Malaysia and all of them are defined as Muslims (Islam is the national religion). There are sizable Chinese and Indian communities as well. Malay is the national language of the country, but English is widely spoken in major towns and cities across the country.

The Chinese population in Malaysia are somewhat similar to the Japanese: most Chinese do little more than give lip service to religion for most of their lives--a typical Chinese wedding tends to be more like a Western wedding than a traditional Chinese wedding. The Chinese community in Malaysia speaks a wide variety of Chinese dialects, including Mandarin Chinese, Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, and Teochew. A majority of the Chinese in Malaysia, especially those from the larger cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Ipoh, Klang, and Penang speak decent English as well. An increasing number of the present-generation Chinese consider English as their first language. The Chinese have historically been dominant in the Malaysian business and commerce community.

The Indians in Malaysia are mainly Hindu Tamils from southern India whose native language is Tamil. There are also other Indian communities which speak Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi, living mainly in the larger towns on the west coast of the peninsula. Many middle to upper-middle class Indians in Malaysia also speak English as a first language. A vigorous 200,000-strong Tamil Muslim community also thrives as an independent subcultural group. There are also prevalent Tamil Christian communities in major cities and towns. Most Indians originally migrated from India as traders, teachers or other skilled workers. A larger number were also part of the forced migrations from India by the British during colonial times to work in the plantation industry. There is also a sizable Sikh community in Malaysia of over 100,000. The Sikhs were brought to Malaya to work as police, soldiers and jagas (security guards).

Eurasians, Cambodians, Vietnamese, Thais, Bugis, Javanese and indigenous tribes make up the remaining population. A small number of Eurasians, of mixed Portuguese and Malay descent, speak a Portuguese-based creole, called Papi á Kristang. There are also Eurasians of mixed Filipino and Spanish descent, mostly in Sabah. Descended from immigrants from the Philippines, some speak Chavacano, the only Spanish-based creole language in Asia. Cambodians and Vietnamese are mostly Buddhists (Cambodians of Theravada sect and Vietnamese, Mahayana sect). Thai Malaysians have been populating a big part of the northern peninsular states of Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Perak, Kelantan and Terengganu. Besides speaking Thai, most of them are Buddhists, celebrate Songkran (Water festival) and can speak Hokkien, but some of them are Muslim and speak the Kelantanese Malay Dialect. Bugis and Javanese make up a part of the population in Johore. In addition, there have been many foreigners and expatriates who have made Malaysia their second home, also contributing to Malaysia's population.

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Culture

Chinese and Islamic forms heavily influence Malaysian traditional music. The music is based largely around the gendang (drum), but includes other percussion instruments (some made of shells); the rebab, a bowed string instrument; the serunai, a double-reed oboe-like instrument; flutes, and trumpets. The country has a strong tradition of dance and dance dramas, some of Thai, Indian and Portuguese origin. In recent years, dikir barat has grown in popularity, and the government has begun to promote it as a national cultural icon. Other artistic forms were also shared with and influenced by neighbouring Indonesia, include wayang kulit (shadow puppet theatre), silat (a stylised martial art) and crafts such as batik, weaving, including the ceremonial cloth pua kumbu, and silver and brasswork.

Malaysian politics is a mess of power-plays, murder, racism, and dirty dealing; the party currently in power, the Barisan Nasional (lit. "National Front"), is composed of the UMNO (United Malays National Organisation), the MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association), and the MIC (Malaysian Indian Congress), and has been in power since 1973, though in the March 2008 elections, opposition parties managed to gain legislature over five states. The Malaysian Prime Minister has always been from UMNO. While the ruling party is generally elected through elections, accusations of gerrymandering and ghost-voting have surfaced extremely frequently--and of course the accusers are often squashed by the government.

Malaysia has a "king", the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, which is really just a fancy name given to any one of nine royal heads of "the Malay states" (Sultans, or in one state, the Yang di-Pertuan Besar) whose number to become the royal figurehead of the country for the next five years has come up (Yes, there are in fact nine separate royal families, each associated with a state). This practice is actually fairly new, having only been introduced in 1957 to succeed the line of British royals that also precided over the colonies during British rule; prior to the introduction of the Agong, the royal heads lacked any central representative.

...oh, and "Malaysia Boleh!", a Catch Phrase developed by the government some years back that means "Malaysia Can!" and has become the way to explain everything in Malaysia that doesn't make sense to the locals.

Festivities

Malaysians observe a number of holidays and festivities throughout the year. Some holidays are federal gazetted public holidays and some are public holidays observed by individual states. Other festivals are observed by particular ethnic or religion groups, but are not public holidays. Generally, because the major holidays of every major religion and ethnic group are celebrated, the Malaysian working year is decidedly shorter than that of other places.

The most celebrated holiday is the Hari Kebangsaan (Independence Day), otherwise known as Merdeka (Freedom), on 31 August commemorating the independence of the Federation of Malaya in 1957, while Malaysia Day is only celebrated in the state of Sabah on 16 September to commemorate the formation of Malaysia in 1963. Hari Merdeka, as well as Labour Day (1 May), the King's birthday (first Saturday of June) and some other festivals are federal gazetted public holidays.

Muslims in Malaysia celebrate Muslim holidays. The most celebrated festival, Hari Raya Puasa (also called Hari Raya Aidilfitri) is the Malay translation of Eid al-Fitr. It is generally a festival honoured by the Muslims worldwide marking the end of Ramadan, the fasting month. The sight of the new moon determines the end of Ramadan. This determines the new month, therefore the end of the fasting month. In addition to Hari Raya Puasa, they also celebrate Hari Raya Haji (also called Hari Raya Aidiladha, the translation of Eid ul-Adha), Awal Muharram (Islamic New Year) and Maulidur Rasul (Birthday of the Prophet).

Chinese in Malaysia typically celebrate festivals that are observed by Chinese around the world. Chinese New Year is the most celebrated among the festivals which lasts for fifteen days and ends with Chap Goh Mei (十五瞑). Other festivals celebrated by Chinese are the Qingming Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival. In addition to traditional Chinese festivals, Buddhists Chinese also celebrate Vesak.

The majority of Indians in Malaysia are Hindus and they celebrate Deepavali, the festival of light, while Thaipusam is a celebration which pilgrims from all over the country flock to Batu Caves. Apart from the Hindus, Sikhs celebrate the Vaisakhi, the Sikh New Year.

Other festivals such as Good Friday (East Malaysia only), Christmas, Hari Gawai of the Ibans (Dayaks), Pesta Menuai (Pesta Kaamatan) of the Kadazan-Dusuns are also celebrated in Malaysia.


Food

Part of the defining quality of Malaysian life is the variety of food available; street hawker stalls, food courts, restaurants, and travelling ice-cream vendors are found everywhere. In the older parts of Malaysia there may even be the roti man (lit. "bread man"), who rides a motorcycle carrying about five times his volume in bread and bags of keropok (fried foods--potato chips and the like). Notable Malaysian foods include the durian, which has become notable as Foreign Queasine to first-time visitors for its pungent smell and squishy texture; the mangosteen, which is much less notable but Needs More Love; nasi lemak (lit. "rice with fat"), which is rice cooked with coconut milk and served with anchovies, roasted nuts, cucumbers, egg, and sambal (a kind of chilli paste); roti canai (similar to the Indian paratha); and teh tarik (lit. "pulled milk tea"), which even spawned a short-lived competition to see who could pull their tea most stylishly. It is sometimes said of Malaysia that the three hardest daily decisions are what to have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Notable people/things Malaysian

Other notable things typically Malaysian:

  • Siti Nurhaliza - the Malaysian queen of pop and the country's equivalent to Celine Dion.
  • Nicol Ann David - currently the world's no. 1 ranking squash player.
  • Lee Chong Wei - a badminton player who won a silver medal in the 2008 Olympics and was again ranked first worldwide on August 21, 2008.
    • Rashid Sidek and Roslin Hashim - other notable badminton players who achieved such rankings.
  • Yasmin Ahmad - Malaysian movie director and storyteller, notable for her heart-warming commercials and independent films. Her works have won multiple awards both within Malaysia and internationally. Passed away in July 25, 2009.
  • Search - Malaysia's answer to Aerosmith. PPPPHHHWEEEEEWWWWIIIITTTT!
  • The Alleycats - One of a few non-Malay bands to break into the Malay music scene. Founding members David and (the late) Loga Arumugam are notable for their Funny Afros.
  • Fashion designers like Zang Toi and Bernard Chandran.
  • Zee Avi - the first Asian to sign to Jack Johnson's Brushfire label.
  • Gempakstarz - Home to Malaysian mangas such as Helios Eclipse, Fatal Chaos and Le Gardenie
  • Rap stars like Too Phat and Poetic Ammo.
  • R&B singer Reshmonu.
  • Pop Shuvit, Malaysia's answer to Limp Bizkit.
  • Jimmy Choos. Yup, those shoes from Sex and the City are invented by a Malaysian coincidentally named Jimmy Choo.
    • And his son Danny Choo. You might know him if you're into anime. Also the director for the upcoming anime 'Mirai Millenium'.
  • Michelle Yeoh - Former Bond girl. Currently the most successful Malaysian to venture overseas, at least in the entertainment industry. Another success story is:
  • Penny Wong, Australian Finance Minister, and also the the first openly gay minister in an Australian government.
  • Mohammad Nor Khalid aka Lat - Notable for his cartoons that appear in the editorial pages of the Malaysian newspaper New Straits Times.
  • Reggie Lee - whose humor is more tongue-in-cheek than Lat's.
  • Akademi Fantasia - The format of the show is taken from La Academia. Garners positive response in comparison to the Idol series.
  • Malaysian Idol
    • One In A Million - spiritual successor to Malaysian Idol, where its prize money is one million ringgit.
  • Che'Nelle An Australian recording artist. You might know her from the song "I Fell In Love With The DJ".
  • Malaysian Chinese singers like Fish Leong and Michael Wong, who gained fame in Taiwan.
  • Animated series Upin & Ipin, extremely popular in Indonesia. Also extremely unpopular among various local folks. Hey, you'd hate it too if it were on 5 different channels!

And yes, this country is frequently mentioned by anyone and everyone, even Michael Jackson who once held a concert here (he liked nasi lemak). So you can say this is the Ensemble Darkhorse of all countries in the world. Malaysia Boleh!

Television and Television Censorship

Free-to-air television broadcasts in Malaysia are basically duopolized by two entities: the government-owned Radio Televisyen Malaysia (lit. Radio Television Malaysia), and Media Prima (previously known as System Televisyen Malaysia Berhad, literally "Television System Malaysia Ltd"). RTM transmits two channels over VHF, while Media Prima transmits four channels over UHF plus a simulcast of TV 3 over VHF. A third player which airs Muslim religious progamming, TV AL Hijrah, recently entered the market over UHF, but is not of interest to most people. People living to the south (up until the Malacca state border) can receive Singaporean TV, and those living to the north (Penang, Kelantan and north Pahang) can get Thai TV. This is of course unfair to those living in the central region, especially since the local TV stations are keen on screwing over anything good and let bad programming run on forever compared to their neighboring countries' counterparts.

It should be noted that television ownership in Malaysia does not require a license; the requirement was abolished in 1994.

Digital TV transition in the country is currently a mess. RTM has been dabbling in the European DVB-T standard since 2006 and currently carries a transmission on the 549Mhz, but the system has yet to officially launch. Media Prima was last seen trying to push for a competing TV system, the Chinese-created DMB-T. RTM was later seen also embracing DMB-T for mobile television and digital radio. To receive digital TV in the country, a DVB-T set top box or USB tuner is required. USB Tuners are widespread in the country at the moment, but set top boxes are hard to come by. One cannot use Windows Media Center to watch digital TV in the country as selecting "Malaysia" from the setup list disables any digital tuner completely; as a result, one has to use the software provided by the tuner card itself. RTM has two channels on digital that are not available elsewhere: Panggung, a local drama channel, and Ilham, an educational channel that airs B-Grade locally produced animation and live action content, as well as the occasional teen talk show. And the government has postphoned the launch of DVB-T due to evaluation of DVB-T2. However if all goes well, we might just see an official launch in 2012 and analog shutoff in 2015.

Pay TV in the country has had a colorful past. The first Pay TV provider in the country was Mega TV which transmitted using the 2GHz terrestrial band. Providing a then whopping choice of 5 channels, the provider opened for business in 1995. They held up until 2001, when Astro's then superior choice of channels forced them into bankruptcy.

Astro came into the market in 1996. Due to its then-superior selection of channels and use of a Digital Satellite system (the European DVB-S standard) which provided a superior picture quality compared to Mega TV's analog system, it quickly usurped Mega TV as the provider of satellite entertainment and many former Mega TV subscribers switched. This eventually led to Mega TV's demise. However, after trampling on Mega TV, Astro became arrogant. Being the sole Pay TV provider in the market at that time, Astro decided that they should decide what people would like to watch. This led to them forming various local channels instead of bringing in more foreign ones. This itself led to many stupid moves like dropping BBC Entertainment from their lineup, which was the country's only source of Doctor Who. They are currently hated due to their "dirty" practice of forcing a channel into exclusive deals, and by exclusive we mean monopoly--no other Pay TV providers in the country may carry the channel, and the channel has to obey Astro's every demand. Also, due to Astro securing a monopoly on satellite transmission rights, no other Pay TV providers may use satellites to get their channels to subscribers. Astro is currently introducing HD channels to their lineup and switching to DVB-S2, but their reluctance of carrying Discovery HD and denying fans of Myth Busters high-definition pictures of Kari Byron has just got them more flak. Their line up is currently made up of a large amount of Chinese drama channels and large amount of sport channels, with a considerably large amount of local channels. People also finally have had enough of rain-fade, which happens very frequently due to Astro's use of the Ku-band for transmission and the fact that the country faces monsoon storms 2/3 of a year. Their move to deploy bigger dishes to compensate for rain fade has been slow, leading to the rise of IPTV--set top boxes that receive Pay TV streams over the Internet. However, due to the large population of soccer fanatics and old Chinese ladies, they are still very much alive and raking in cash while screwing everyone else over.

A competitor called Mi TV came around to challenge Astro in the early 2000s, but they quickly folded due to Astro quickly trampling them over as they were not able to secure the more popular channels on Astro, failed to think outside the box and get the desired channels that are not on Astro, and they underestimated the public and the competition--forcing the public to buy an RM 600 decoder and then pay around twice as much in subscriber fees to get half as many channels was never a good idea, especially since Astro was practically giving away their decoders for free at that time, and (again) their channel lineup was substandard due to Astro's monopoly. This was made worse by the poor coverage--again, because of Astro's government-backed monopoly over the satellite system and due to their desire to be special, they picked some unusual exotic system that mixed IPTV with a data-only DVB-T stream transmitting over UHF.

Currently, there are only two challengers up against Astro: The Red Tone-owned DETV (which carries mostly Chinese and Taiwanese channels) and Uni Fi IPTV (which has a lesser selection of channels, but highly-desirable channels nonetheless that Astro's arrogance made them think they could skip over). Both are IPTV systems as they are not allowed to use satellite as means of transmission, thanks to Astro's government-backed monopoly rights. But Uni Fi IPTV is equally hated nonetheless because it requires signing up for TM's Uni Fi FIOS service, which is not available in 90% of the country and is slooowwwwwww toooooo rolllllll outttttttttt, and punters wanting just the IPTV service were told that they could not have it unless they switched to Uni Fi FIOS, despite having a fast enough Internet connection with a rival ISP and said Uni Fi service not being available in their area.

Astro is currently trying to make their services available over to use IPTV as well, but due to their arrogance (again!) their IPTV service is only available to a handful of people, namely the same people capable of getting 100Mbps Time Broadband FIOS, leaving many others stranded with an inferior signal that's cut off by at least one rain fade a week for most of the year.

A footnote could be made about a Pay TV provider called Fine TV, which again used the IPTV platform. With an insane price and only five local channels, it is doubtful if anyone ever signed up for the service.

There is local TV censorship. The rigidness of censorship varies depending on the person in charge of censorship in the channel and there appear to be multiple standards. For example, the infamous Rugrats Zoo Story edit which ended up not making sense at all due to all references to pigs cut off from the terrestrial broadcast of the show, while the same episode was aired unedited over satellite. Sometimes, this can be taken to boneheaded extremes--again, see above--is there anything wrong with pigs?

Internet connection and censorship in Malaysia

Internet connection in the country varies widely, with the slowest speed still being 56k dial-up and the fastest speed being 100Mbps from Time Broadband FIOS which is only available to a handful of elite yokels in the "high class zones" (i.e. the Damansara Heights-Mont Kiara area). Currently there are two types of high-speed internet deployed in the country: Wi MAX (with providers punting up to 20Mbps), and FIOS (with speeds of up to 100Mbps). Tests for LTE is underway, but not expected to be deployed soon.

The internet has also become the preferred method of watching TV--partially thanks to Astro's monopoly and arrogance, and partially due to the keenness of local terrestrial stations to screw shows over. As mentioned before three Pay-TV providers use IPTV set top boxes (with one more in the pipeline and Astro switching over to IPTV as well) and YouTube has pretty much become synonymous with TV for some. However, the fact that iPlayer, iView and Hulu blocks non-country-native traffic, has led to some pretty creative and underhanded ways of getting the TV shows they want using the Internet for some people. And we'll just leave it at that.

Due to an act enforced since 1996, the Internet is mandated to not be censored and that it's up to the parents to get their own censorship software and educate their children. However, this have not stopped various parties from demanding mandated Internet censorship, including the current Information Minister and various state ministers. Their demands, however, are often denied by the Prime minister himself (though said state ministers claimed that they have done it for their states anyway).

All this came to a head on 11th June 2011, when the MCMC (the Malaysian equivalent of the FCC) demanded that 10 websites be banned on the grounds of purveying pirated media, completely ignoring the act, and deployed a web filtering system that they had promised that they would not deploy. This move angered the general public, Anonymous and Lulz Security. Chaos ensued.

Many cheaper IS Ps also practice traffic shaping and will admit it, however, and as a result using downloading torrents from them is pretty much unfeasible without some form of tunneling or traffic masking.

Malaysia in Fiction:

The Malaysian flag

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