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Malaysia

Yearbook 1997

Malaysia. During the year, the Malaysia government decided to postpone all new agreements with neighboring Singapore, and the relations between the two countries dropped to their lowest level since the dissolution of their two-year union in 1965. According to the official news agency Bernama, no new contracts would be granted to companies from Singapore. The decision was followed by some derogatory comments from Singapore's former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. In a written affidavit before a Singapore court, in a case against opposition politician Tang Liang Hong, Lee Kuan Yew had described the South Malaysian state of Johor as notorious for crime. Although Lee Kuan Yew apologized, the Malaysian protests against him and Singapore continued.

1997 Malaysia

According to Countryaah, the Southeast Asian economic crisis that struck particularly hard against Thailand in early July also haunted Malaysia, who was hit by sharply falling stock exchange and currency values during the summer. In mid-July, Malaysia was forced to devalue its currency, the ringit, which fell by about 18% against the US dollar in one and a half months. The market capitalization had fallen by 35% from March to August. Analysts said that the causes were partly underlying structural problems and currency speculation directed at the countries in question. However, M Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad saw only one side of the matter and made harsh accusations against mainly the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and US-based currency trader George Soros. The hard outcomes caused the currency and stock market to fall further,

Malaysia had not only financial but also ecological problems to contend with. Thick smoke from extensive forest fires on Borneo and Sumatra drifted over the central parts of Malaysia. The drought in Southeast Asia led to clearing and burning fires spreading uncontrollably. Due to the monsoon winds being delayed, severe air pollution arose. Malaysia and Indonesia announced in early November that they decided to fight this type of fires jointly in the future.

Dominant but weakened government party

The election of a new lower house (Dewan Rakyat) in March 2008 was a setback for the 14-party government coalition, Barisan Nasional (National Front). The coalition retained the majority (62 percent), but lost the 2/3 majority required for constitutional amendments. Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's Muslim party, UMNO, lost a third of its seats and, after the election, held 36 percent of the seats in the assembly. UMNO's sovereign hegemony in Malaysian politics since independence in 1957 thus appears to be under threat. For the first time, UMNO received less than 30 percent of the votes. The election result was also the worst ever for the Barisan coalition. The voters' verdict came after Badawi obviously had not been able to fulfill the 2004 election promises, including a stronger leap to corruption.

The election, on the other hand, was a boost for ethnic parties gathering Indian and Chinese voters. Discontent has smoldered among the minorities due to the controversial bumiputra policy, which in their opinion gives the Malay majority undeserved special benefits in economy and business. One of the Badawi government's promises was greater transparency about the administration. Greater freedom for the press to also criticize the government has been positive for democracy, and may also have contributed to the opposition's progress.

After prolonged pressure, Badawi resigned in March 2009, leaving the prime minister's post to former Defense Minister Najib Razak. Najib has been noted as a champion of Malay's special rights in the private and public sectors. They were launched in the early 1970s by his father, then Prime Minister Abdul Razak.

The Sultan of Terengganu, Mizan Zainal Abidin, was crowned Malaysia's 13th monarch and head of state in April 2007. Malaysia's monarchs are added on annual targets, and Mizan was elected for the period 2007-2012 by the country's nine sultans. The country's 14th monarch was elected in 2011, and has since been the Sultan of Kedah, Abdul Halim.

Malaysia is an Islamic state that has been largely characterized by religious tolerance, albeit with somewhat stronger Islamization since the 1990s. A certain - but still marginal - extremism springs to the outside of this development. An Islamic fundamentalist movement had progressed in the northern parts of the 1990s, especially in the state of Kelantan where the local government introduced Islamic law, Sharia. The leading fundamentalist party, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) won 23 parliamentary seats in the election in 2008. Together with two other Islamist parties formed the coalition Pakatan Rakyat, which won a majority in the state assemblies in Kelantan, Kedah, Selangor, Perak and Penang.

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