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▼ Remarks by the High Commissioner of Malaysia

On behalf of the Malaysian High Commission in Ottawa, I am pleased to support the efforts of The Canadian Expat’s e-series Brief Locale

This new e-series by the Association is meant to promote business and cultural understanding between countries and to provide concise information that all readers will find useful.

High Commissioner, Dato’ Hayati Ismail

Policy Analyst Drew Pelletier with High Commissioner Dato' Hayati Ismail

I am pleased the Canadian Expat has chosen Malaysia as its focus for the month of March. The relationship between Malaysia and Canada has been well-established and it continues to grow and diversify. It is based on our mutual values, trade ties and extensive interaction between our two peoples.

I hope you find the articles on our country insightful and enjoyable.

High Commissioner, Dato’ Hayati Ismail

▼ There’s This Place – Malaysia

What can one say about travelling to Malaysia? There are many many fine articles, travel books and web pages dedicated to this unique and beautiful country. And The Canadian Expat Association suggests you check them out if you are planning to make Malaysia your next travel destination (such as these excellent sites at: or What can we add in the way of a additional travel information? Well, there are two things that we have chosen to highlight in this article of Brief Locale.
  1. Like Canada, Malaysia is a vibrant multiethnic country. Malay, Chinese, and Indian cultures constitute the modern Malaysian identity. The country is also blessed with a beautiful climate and geography, making it an ideal location for those seeking a tropical experience. The Malaysian tourism industry has been steadily growing over the years and Canadians are making it a favourite destination. The number of Canadians visiting the country has grown exponentially in the last 10 years, and approximately 7% of all tourists are now from Canada. By the end of 2013 it is estimated that 100,000 Canadians will have visited Malaysia.
  2. And why not? There are endless kilometers of tropical coastline with water that is blue and clear. For example, the island of Pulau Sipadan is considered one of the best scuba diving locations in the world. Diving here reveals one of the most beautiful and untouched coral reefs in the world which is home to thousands of species of marine life. At certain times of the year, the area is overrun by sea turtles which mate and nest in the region. Legendary explorer Jacques Cousteau said: [of the untouched beauty] "I have seen other places like Sipadan, 45 years ago, but now no more. Now we have found an untouched piece of art.” In contrast to Malaysia’s natural geographical beauty is it’s thriving urban life in cities such as Kuala Lumpur. The capital blends old colonial influences, Asian traditions, and Malay Islamic inspirations. The city's cultural diversity, relatively low costs and wide gastronomic and shopping variety make it the 6th most visited city in the world. Not bad when you are competing against the likes of London, Paris, Rome, New York and Hong Kong.

So go exchange your Loonies for some Malaysian Ringgits (as of March 2013, $1 CAD will get you approximately RM3 MYR) and explore this diverse country of 28 million.

▼ Malaysia: Harness our country’s growth

Twin Towers

Malaysia has a vibrant business sector, centred around its tallest skyscraper, the Petronas Twin Towers.

Trade between Malaysia and Canada is not large. Malaysia’s trade with Canada was only US$1.83 billion or 0.44 percent of its global trade in 2011. Likewise, Canada’s trade with Malaysia was only US$2.94 billion or 0.32 percent of Canada’s total global trade.

Malaysia is one of the world’s leading exporters of semi-conductor devices and electrical goods and appliances, which are the top exports to Canada. Others include furniture, rubber products and metal manufactured items as well as textiles and clothing. In 2011, exports to Canada were valued at US$909 million or 0.4 percent of Malaysia’s global exports.

Imports from Canada were mainly chemical products, electrical and electronic parts, machinery equipment, processed food and transport equipment. In 2011, exports from Canada to Malaysia totalled US$774 million or 0.17 percent of Canada’s global exports.

Canada is a source of foreign investments in both the manufacturing and services sector in Malaysia. Canadian companies such as the Bank of Nova Scotia, Talisman Energy Inc., Manulife Financial Canada and Research in Motion (RIM) maintain branches or regional headquarters in Malaysia. New investments in 2011 were mainly in electrical and electronic products, machinery and equipment, non-metallic minerals products, rubber products and furniture and fixtures. Notable Canadian manufacturing companies in Malaysia are Celestica, ATS Automation, Teknion and Solmax.

Malaysia is keen to attract high technology companies from Canada to establish itself as the region’s engineering supporting outsourcing hub as well as a specialised high-value, high-quality machinery and equipment production hub.

Malaysia is a competitive investment destination for many reasons. Its competitiveness ranking speaks for itself: A.T. Kearney’s 2012 FDI Confidence Index ranks it the 10th most attractive destination for FDI; the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report 2012 puts it in 18th position, ahead of Germany, Japan, Switzerland and Belgium; and A.T. Kearney’s 2011 Global Services Location Index calls Malaysia the third best destination in the world for outsourcing activities, after India and China.

The government ensures a business environment that provides companies with the opportunities for growth and profits. Foreign investors can hold 100 percent of the equity in all investments in new projects, are allowed to employ expatriates where such skills are not available and are offered a wide range of tax incentives such as the Pioneer Status and the Investment Tax Allowance. Industrial relations are harmonious, with minimal trade disputes.

Malaysia offers an educated workforce — the quality is one of the best in the region. Literacy levels are high, workers entering the job market have at least 11 years of basic education.

The cost of studying in my country is very affordable and Malaysia would like to host more international students, including Canadians. Many Malaysians have also graduated from Canadian universities and they not only provide valuable connections to Canada, but also the skills sought by global companies.

Malaysia has one of the most developed infrastructures among the industrializing countries of Asia. There are more than 200 industrial parks and 18 free industrial zones, along with special incentives to attract investments and the creation of several special economic zones such as the Iskandar Development Region. The country not only provides the strategic location with the physical and economic infrastructure for international investments but also the right ingredients for people to invest, work, live and play. The telecommunications network uses the latest digital and fibre-optics technology to provide high-quality telecommunication services at competitive prices.

Malaysia’s market-oriented economy has created a vibrant business environment. The rapid embrace of the knowledge economy allows companies to operate in an environment that is geared toward information technology. A well-developed financial banking sector and sophisticated financial facilities are available. There are robust and highly competitive small-and-medium scale industries.

Malaysia also offers quality of life. Expatriates will enjoy a safe and comfortable living environment with modern amenities, good health care and medical facilities, excellent educational institutions and world-class recreational sports facilities — at costs much lower than in their own countries. The diversity of cultures, a heritage derived from its racial mix of some of the oldest civilizations — Malay, Chinese and Indian — has turned Malaysia into a microcosm of Asia. Most Malaysians are able to speak at least two languages.

Life in Malaysia is an unsurpassed adventure. From beaches to national parks to shop-until-you-drop experiences to culinary delights and Formula One races, Malaysia has it all, including island retreats and the best diving spot in the world, Sipadan. It is not surprising, therefore, that Malaysia has become one of the Top 10 most visited countries in the world today.

Dato’ Hayati Ismail is Malaysia’s high commissioner to Canada. Reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (613) 241-5182.

▼ Automotive Malaysia

In the 1950s, the relatively small automotive firm Volkswagen entered the North American market with the Beetle. A car that was embraced by those who wanted and needed inexpensive transportation. In the 70s, the charge into the low cost car market was led by Japan (remember the first Honda Civic) and by the 1980’s, the Hyundai Pony from Korea was introduced. Today, these companies have manufacturing facilities around the world and sell their cars across the globe. What does this have to do with Malaysia? Well, the Malaysians have created their own automotive industry and are producing inexpensive cars that will soon be introduced into the North American market and compete in the same market segment once occupied by both Volkswagen, Honda and Hyundai.

In 1983, former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad helped found Proton, and today it is the largest Malaysian automobile manufacturer. Much of Proton’s success is attributed to its partnership with other firms. Their early vehicles were built in cooperation with Mitsubishi, allowing Proton to cut development and production costs by using proven Mitsubishi parts. Proton also acquired famed British brand Lotus in 1994. Lotus manufactures purpose-built lightweight sports cars that offer a no compromise driving experience. Modern Protons are a far cry from the Lotus Esprit, James Bond’s preferred ride in The Spy Who Loved Mebut it is thanks to Lotus engineering that Proton is continuing to improve the driving dynamics of their cars. Competing with Proton for the Malaysian market is Perodua – another Malaysian automobile manufacturer that produces similarly cheap utilitarian cars as Proton, and since their founding in 1993, have successfully become the region’s largest compact car producer.

The rapid development of Asia Pacific has resulted in huge demand for inexpensive cars within emerging markets. This demand has grown exponentially in the last 20 years. Malaysian manufacturers are producing vehicles precisely for this reason. Both Proton and Perodua produce cars that are low cost and serve as effective transportation. By the end of the decade when you next head out to buy a new car, you may find yourself comparing the merits of a new Proton or Perodua against the likes of a Volkswagen, Honda or Hyundai.

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