Learn more about specific causes in Malaysia that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentMalaysia’s environment is in danger due to rapid urbanization and an over-exhaustion of resources. The country faces threats from deforestation, water pollution, soil erosion, overfishing, and air pollution.1 Pollution continues to be an increasing problem. Malaysia has historically enjoyed one of the least polluted urban environments in Asia, but increasing demand on its natural resources has led to the pollution of both its environment and urban environments.2 The greatest natural hazards posed by the environment are landslides, flooding, and forest fires. 3
FamilyIssues associated with family life in Malaysia include domestic abuse and a continually increasing divorce rate. In recent years the Women’s Aid Organization has succeeded in pushing amendments into law regarding domestic abuse. Women can now obtain temporary protection from their abusers without going to court, along with having other protections during the investigation phase.1 Some believe that increasing divorce rates are due to the intense Malaysian work culture. Others say it is a result of couples growing apart emotionally as they age. 35.3% of divorcees cite “incompatibility” as their cause.2 The most recent study of marriage statistics was done in 2012, and it found that nearly 57,000 divorces were recorded each year.3
Human RightsMalaysia’s government has many laws in place that limit freedom of opinion and allow for the harassment and intimidation of critics. The government has repeatedly silenced those who oppose their policies, going as far as to censor media and crackdown on protests and pro-human rights organizations inside the country. Other human rights abuses include those committed by police officers, as well as abuses committed against refugees, trafficking victims, those seeking asylum, and LGBT persons.1 The law states that the death penalty is the punishment for crimes such as drug trafficking, murder, or the use of deadly weapons with the intent to harm.2
EducationMalaysia invests 5% of its GDP in education annually. Malaysia’s desire to elevate the country to high income status has fueled a great interest in improving the education system. However, Malaysian educators discovered that the average test scores of their students were declining. In 2013 the Malaysian government created the Malaysia Education Blueprint, as a result of the findings of a review launched in 2011. The blueprint summarizes educational goals to be completed by 2025.1 Malaysia’s literacy rate for those over 15 years of age is 94.6%.2 Despite this positive literacy rate, another significant challenge that Malaysia faces is continuing the increasing enrollment trends to the secondary level. Only 68.5% of the population continues past primary education.3,4
PovertyMalaysia has one of the largest middle classes in any Muslim country. Malaysia’s economic growth and stability has been essential in lowering poverty levels. Pockets of rural poverty have persisted throughout the country.1 Though the middle class is growing, 60% of Malaysians still live on less than $1600 per month, which leaves them without the resources for basic necessities like food and shelter. This statistic is even higher in rural areas, where more than 85% of people live on less than $1600 per month.2
ReligionThe main religions practiced in Malaysia include Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity. The majority of citizens practice Islam.1 Although religious freedom is guaranteed by Malaysia’s constitution, recent challenges between Muslims and Christians have caused skepticism about how well the law is held up in society. Christians have been attacked for their faith recently, as some Muslim groups have set off bombs at churches, seized Bibles, and attached defamatory signs to churches.2
Clean WaterOnly 2% of the population does not have clean water. 97% of the water used for agricultural, industrial, and domestic needs is gathered from surface water surfaces, oftentimes rivers. These sources of water are dependent on rainfall, and accordingly, dry periods have posed serious problems to Malaysians’ access to water.1 A particularly dry season in 2014 caused the country to enforce water rationing for 90% of the population. Water supply in Malaysia is regulated by the government, and is heavily subsidized. Low tariffs on water have led to levels of high water consumption, which has been challenging to maintain due to rapid urbanization in the country.2
EconomySince the end of the 1970s, Malaysia has transformed from a major producer of raw materials into a middle income country with a thriving multi-sector economy. The country is currently attempting to elevate the economy even further into high-income status through the attraction of Islamic finance companies, technology industries, and biotechnology companies.1 Malaysia is a significant member of the global economy, acting as one of the world’s twenty largest trading nations. Primary trading partners include the countries of Japan, Singapore, and the United States. Malaysia’s unemployment rate is at 2.9%.2
GovernmentMalaysia is a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy. The King is the ceremonial chief of state, while the Prime Minister is the head of the government.1 The government has been under the control of the United Malays National Organization since 1957. Malaysia is very ethnically and religiously diverse and while this brings positive aspects to the culture, it is also linked to civil unrest. Many high level government officials and members of law enforcement have become mired in corruption scandals in the past few years. In 2015 the Prime Minister was revealed to have misappropriated $3.5 billion.2 The lack of government transparency leads to a general public mistrust of the government.
HealthHealth issues in Malaysia include heart disease, mental illness, strokes, traffic injuries, and cancers.1 Other diseases that people in Malaysia often suffer from are dengue fever, tuberculosis, food poisoning, hand, foot, and mouth disease, and HIV/AIDS. Life expectancy in Malaysia is at 72 years for men and 78 years for women while infant mortality is 13/1000 live births.2 Mental health is also an issue, and the most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses are anxiety, depression, and stress disorders.3
ChildrenMalaysian children face many serious problems that affect their quality of life. These issues of concern include poverty, right to identity, HIV/AIDS, abuse, sexual exploitation, and child marriage. In past years, the Malaysian government has made significant progress towards advocating for and enforcing children’s rights. Children in Malaysia often suffer from statelessness, or a lack of birth registration. These children usually come from indigenous or minority communities, as well as refugee and asylum-seeking families.1 Corporal punishment is allowed as a form of discipline both in domestic and in school settings, which can lead to issues with more serious violence that develops as a result. Child marriage has also remained a prevalent issue for children in Malaysia. Although the minimum legal age for marriage is 18, Read More Muslim girls can marry at 16. Children under 16 can receive permission to marry by consent of the Syariah Court. Data surrounding this topic is uncertain due to the fact that most child marriages take place in rural communities.2 Show Less
AnimalsAlthough Malaysia is recognized for its diversity of species, many animals are under threat of extinction, either from loss of habitat or removal from their natural environment.1 In fact, 14% of Malaysia’s mammals are listed by The World Conservation Union as endangered. The top five endangered animals in Malaysia are the tiger, rhino, elephant, turtle, and orangutan. Because of its unique host of animal species, Malaysia is a target for poachers in search of valuable animal parts, such as the ivory horn of its rhinoceroses.2
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