Malaysia – A stable and vibrant economy
Consisting of two regions separated by the South China Sea, Malaysia is a federation of 13 states and three federal territories. It shares borders with Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei. The capital is Kuala Lumpur, home of the Petronas Towers which were the world’s tallest buildings from 1998–2004 and are still regarded as the world’s tallest “twin” buildings.
The population is around 29.3 million and the official language is Malay, although English is widely spoken. Other languages include Chinese dialects, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. The constitution declares Islam to be the state religion while allowing for freedom of religion for non-Muslims – other religions include Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Christianity and Sikhism.
The majority Muslim ethnic Malay are dominant politically, and benefit from positive discrimination in business, education and the civil service, but a large ethnic Chinese minority holds economic power. The communities co-exist in relative harmony, although there is little racial interaction, and a religious divide persists.
Malaysia boasts one of south-east Asia’s most vibrant economies, the fruit of decades of industrial growth and political stability. The head of state is the King, an elected monarch chosen from the hereditary rulers of the nine Malay states every five years. The head of government is the Prime Minister.
Since gaining independence in 1957, Malaysia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with its GDP growing at an average of 6.5% per annum for almost 50 years. The economy has traditionally been fuelled by its natural resources of tin and rubber and palm oil, but is expanding in the sectors of science, tourism, commerce and medical tourism. The country is benefiting from a growth in manufacturing, and is a major tourist destination.
The start-up industry has long been a male-dominated landscape; however, the number of female-owned businesses is rising. According to a chart in Statistica, Kuala Lumpur is one of the top 10 cities with women accounting for 19% of new start-ups.
In business meetings, many companies will have their team seated in descending rank, although this is not always the case. The most senior Malaysian may give a brief welcoming speech. There will be a period of small talk, which will end when the most senior Malaysian is comfortable moving to the business discussion. Meetings may be conducted or continue over lunch and dinner. Meetings, especially initial ones, are generally somewhat formal.
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Sources: Wikipedia, BBC.com, Vulcan Post