Political stability is an important consideration in these times when it comes to traveling. From internal strive to conflict in between neighboring countries, and other unseen dangers due to terrorism.
Malaysia had its fair share of internal problems due to the differences and existence of various races. Notably between the three major races, that is the Malay, Chinese and Indian community. The biggest incident was way back in May 1969 when racial tension between the Malay and Chinese caused riots and fights which resulted in hundreds of deaths. Since then, the races have learned to live rather amicably with each other and want to avoid such a serious conflict from happening again. It is normal now to see the various races working together in the same office, joking and helping each other out or eating together, although they do not necessary live in the same area.
The Malaysian government known as the Barisan Nasional or National Front consists of UMNO, United Malays National Organisation and parties from the other races, MCA Malaysian Chinese Association and MIC (Malaysian Indian Congress) all want to work towards a peaceful society. Any actions by individuals who try to incite racial tensions are dealt with strongly. Strong conflict is largely avoided although political power, largely being held by the Malays who with other indigenous Malaysians call themselves Bumiputera, or Sons of the Soil is used to increase their status in the Malaysian economy and other areas.
Malaysia travel is safe and tourists will not feel in anyway threatened. Malaysians are generally friendly, and when asked for directions, will obligingly point you to your destination. There is a fairly large expatriate community working and living in Malaysia, especially centered in Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.
It should be noted however that in April 2000, terrorist group Abu Sayyaff of the Southern Philipines kidnapped 20 hostages from the island of Sipadan, off the East coast of Sabah, including a number of tourist. The hostages were eventually released after nearly five months. Since then, security has increased on this island and the surrounding waters.
While terrorism has reared its ugly head once in Sipadan, Malaysia has been able to contain terrorism due to its diligence and swift action against any individuals or groups involved. Airport security has increased and a few more policemen posted on certain embassies, other than that, the rest of Malaysia maintains its peaceful lifestyle. You may want to check out the political situation by going to www.thestar.com.my and www.nst.com.my, websites of two of Malaysians most popular English daily prior to making your trip.
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