Malaysia's Economic Development

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Geo file 413
John Pallister
Malaysia is a peninsula and island development index compiled by the transition from dependence in the
country located in the hot wet tropics United Nations, which is based on 1960s and 70s on primary product
of eastern Asia. It lies on the southern GDP per head, adult literacy and exports, to manufactured exports in
side of the North-South divide, which education using combined primary, the 1990s. In 1970 rubber and tin
places it within the less economically secondary and tertiary enrolment, made up two-thirds of the value of
developed world. However, it is Malaysia ranks 60th out of 175 exports, whereas by the end of the
classified as one of Asia's NICs (newly countries (the UK is 15th). 1990s over 80% of exports were
industrialising countries) on the basis manufactured goods (Figure 3). In
of its rapid economic development Figure 1 provides a selection of socio- terms of Rostow's model of economic
during the last 30 years. In the human economic characteristics for the development, Malaysia achieved
country. Although Malaysia is some "take-off" during the period since
Figure 1: Socio-economic profile of way behind the more economically 1970.
Malaysia developed countries of the North, it is
well ahead of the world's least
Social developed countries, located The growth of manufacturing
Total population: 22 millions overwhelmingly in Africa. industry
Ethnic composition: 50% Malay,
33% Chinese: Malaysia, along with its southern and It is more than 30 years since
remainder mainly northern neighbours Indonesia and multinational companies, with
Indian Thailand, is classified as a "second headquarters in North America,
Total fertility rate: 3.4 (UK 1.8) wave" Asian Tiger. The first wave of Western Europe and Japan, began
Adult literacy rate: 85% Asian Tigers, so called because of the relocating and expanding units of
(UK 99­100%) speed and ferocity of their industrial production in selected Asian and
and commercial growth in the four Latin American countries to take
decades since 1960, comprised advantage of lower costs of
GDP per head: US$3,623
Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and production. This transfer of
(UK US$18,380)
South Korea (Figure 2); they manufacturing output speeded up the
Employment: Primary 24%
survived several bouts of economic process of de-industrialisation in old
(UK 2%)
and political turmoil during the established industrial regions in
Secondary 26%
1990s. Europe and North America, such as
(UK 24%)
coalfield locations in the UK and the
Tertiary 50%
Malaysia earned its status as an Asian "Rust Belt" in the north-eastern
(UK 74%)
Tiger on the basis of its successful USA.
Figure 2: The Asian Tigers
Geofile Online © Nelson Thornes 2002

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January 2002 no.413 Malaysia ­ Progress towards and Prospects for Economic Development
Figure 3: Malaysian exports (1970 and late 1990s) in which he stood up to powerful
international bankers and financiers
during the major Asian financial crisis
in 1998, when he announced controls
on the movement of money out of the
country and fixed the exchange range
of the currency (the ringgit) to stop
international speculation against it.…read more

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January 2002 no.413 Malaysia ­ Progress towards and Prospects for Economic Development
Bayan Lepas Industrial Park (BLIP) education assistance, vehicle loan which will respond to alarm calls,
The greatest industrial concentration interest subsidy and annual bonus, at provide workers for repairs and locate
on Penang is in the Bayan Lepas the same time as they offer training babysitters on the Cyberjaya web site.…read more

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January 2002 no.413 Malaysia ­ Progress towards and Prospects for Economic Development
Figure 6: The Petronas twin towers in the capital Kuala Lumpur, the world's two world's large companies, which are
tallest office towers. To some they are a visual sign of the sheer scale of economic overwhelmingly based in MEDCs, are
activity and growth in Malaysia.…read more


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