The Leading Global Portal for Diplomats!    
    Keep in touch with the community Prepare for your new career Take care of personal affairs Chat with diplomats online      
Home > New Posting > Post Reports
Preface Last Updated: 7/10/2003 3:50 PM

Malaysia is a colorful amalgam of traditional and modern influences. Situated between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, it has drawn on China, India, Western Europe, Polynesia, and the Arab World to create a unique multilingual and multicultural nation.

British influence and control in the Malay States began in Penang in the late 18th century. After Japan’s temporary conquest during World War II and a major Communist insurgency during the 1950s, sovereignty was transferred peacefully in 1957 to an independent federal government. Since independence, the Federation has expanded to include the former British colonies of Sabah and Sarawak on the Island of Borneo and changed its name from Malaya to Malaysia to recognize the importance to the country of Chinese, Indian, and aboriginal peoples as well as the ethnic Malays. Singapore was a part of the Federation from 1963 to 1965.

For over a century Malaysia’s economy had centered on large-scale rubber and tin production. Since independence the economy has become much more diversified. Over the past 25 years, production of oil and gas has helped to fuel Malaysia's rapid economic growth. Manufacturing, especially of electronics components, now dominates Malaysia’s exports. The prosperity brought by tin, rubber, and later natural energy and electronics, is supplemented by a stable system of public administration and public services. The culture, variety, and people make it a challenging and interesting country in which to live and work.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:08 AM

Peninsular Malaysia, slightly smaller in size than Michigan, extends south for 800 kilometers from Thailand’s Isthmus of Kra to Singapore and the Indonesian Archipelago. Sabah and Sarawak, the States of East Malaysia, which are about the size of Kansas, lie 600 kilometers to the east across the South China Sea. These two States, former British colonies on the northeast coast of Borneo, stretch for 1,000 kilometers to the southern islands of the Philippines. Malaysia’s land area covers 336,400 square kilometers.

A central mountain range with peaks rising to 2,100 meters divides Peninsular Malaysia. Scenic coastal plains lie on either side of the mountains; most of the population lives in the plains and foothills of the western coast along the Straits of Malacca. The eastern coast, along the South China Sea, has beautiful white, sandy beaches, but fewer people. Between the two coasts lie the mountains and an often-impenetrable jungle. Primary forest covers 60% of Malaysia and contains a variety of flowering plants and immense, but now diminishing, timber reserves. Vegetation, even in the cities, is lush and tropical. Forest wildlife includes gibbons; tigers; elephants; mouse deer; countless species of birds, monkeys and insects; and, in Sabah and Sarawak, the orangutan.

The weather in Kuala Lumpur varies little throughout the year. Daily minimum and maximum temperatures remain fairly constant averaging 27° C (80° F) and 38° C (100° F). With the heat, there is high humidity as the average annual rainfall is 250 centimeters. Kuala Lumpur’s location in a valley compounds occasional smog problems brought on by industrial and vehicular emissions. In drought years, such as 1994 and 1997, there has been a seasonal “haze” caused by widespread burning in Indonesia. The pollution level in the fall of 1997 posed a health hazard that led to a temporary evacuation of all non-essential Embassy personnel and eligible family members. In normal years, the daily rain showers keep the air relatively clean. Foreign residents sometimes complain of the enervating effect of the unchanging climate.

Although Kuala Lumpur is not subject to typhoons or cyclones, brief rainy seasons occur each year and bring scattered flooding. About 1-2 months of relatively dry weather usually precede the rainy seasons, although afternoon and evening thundershowers occur regularly throughout the year. The east coast and East Malaysia experience longer rainy seasons, and more widespread flooding as a result.

Malaysia, an entomologist’s paradise, abounds in insect life of all kinds. Mosquitoes can be bothersome and carry disease; dengue, cholera, and malaria are endemic in parts of the country, but with the exception of dengue, rarely affect the expatriate population in Kuala Lumpur or other major cities.

Population Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:09 AM

In 1999, Malaysia’s estimated population was approximately 22.7 million, with about 83% in Peninsular Malaysia and 17% in East Malaysia. In 1999, the Federal Territory, consisting primarily of the city of Kuala Lumpur, had a population of over 2.2 million. Malaysia’s population is growing at over 2% per year.

The population of Malaysia includes several ethnic groups; the largest group, the Malays, makes up about 59% of the population. Almost without exception, Malays follow the state religion of Islam and speak the national language of Bahasa Malaysia (formerly called Malay). Chinese, most of whose ancestors came to Malaysia from southern China during the 19th and 20th centuries to work in the tin mines or to set up small businesses, make up about 25% of the population. Today, most Chinese live in urban areas and work in trade, business, and finance. The most common Chinese dialects are Cantonese and Hokkien. However, Mandarin is also widely understood, as it is the language of instruction in Chinese schools. Malaysians of Indian descent make up another 7% of the population. Their ancestors came from the Indian subcontinent as laborers on the rubber plantations and as civil servants in the British colonial government. Non- Malay indigenous groups, Eurasians and Europeans make up the remainder of the population. Most of the non-Malay indigenous peoples are concentrated in East Malaysia, where they are an important social and political force.

Over 90% of the population speaks Bahasa Malaysia. The literacy rate for the country as a whole is approximately 93%; the rate in East Malaysia is somewhat lower than in Peninsular Malaysia. English is still widely spoken, particularly in urban areas. English proficiency declined in the 1980s, when the government promoted the use of Bahasa Malaysia in schools, government, and business. In recent years, however, the government has promoted English-language skills.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:11 AM

Malaysia has a parliamentary system of government based on free, multiparty elections. A free market economy, abundant natural resources, and a well-educated population have helped Malaysia become one of the most prosperous of the developing countries.

Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy, headed by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, or paramount ruler. The ruler is elected for a five-year term from among the nine hereditary rulers of the Peninsular Malay states. The ruler also is the leader of the Islamic faith in Malaysia, as are the rulers in their own states.

Malaysia’s constitution was promulgated in 1963 when Sabah and Sarawak (and Singapore, which left in 1965) joined the Federation of Malaya to form Malaysia. The Constitution has been amended frequently since its original enactment. Executive power is vested in the Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister. The Cabinet is chosen from among the members of Parliament as in the British system of government. All of Malaysia’s Prime Ministers since independence have been the leaders of the country’s predominant political party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO).

The bicameral Parliament consists of the Dewan Negara (the National Council or Senate) and the Dewan Rakyat (the People's Council or House of Representatives). Of the 69 members of the Senate, the Paramount Ruler appoints 43 and each of the 13 state legislatures elects two. All Senators sit for six-year terms. Members of the House, the more influential of the two bodies, are elected in single member constituencies by universal adult suffrage. General elections must be called at least once every five years. The House has 180 members, of which 133 are from the states of Peninsular Malaysia and the island of Labuan and 47 are from Sabah and Sarawak. Legislative power is divided between the Federal Parliament and the elected assemblies of Malaysia’s 13 states, with state governments retaining power over several important areas, including land use, water disposition, and religion.

The Malaysian legal system is based on English Common Law. The Supreme Court, the highest court in Malaysia, reviews decisions referred from the High Courts and has original jurisdiction in constitutional matters and in disputes between states or between the Federal Government and a State. Below the Supreme Court are two High Courts, one for Peninsular Malaysia and one for East Malaysia. Islamic, or Syariah, law applies nationwide to Moslems in matters related to inheritance, marriage, sexual propriety, religion, and a few other areas. Islamic courts come under the jurisdiction of the individual states, and ultimate appellate authority rests with the ruler of the state concerned. The titular heads of 9 of the 13 states in Malaysia are the hereditary rulers of those states. The leaders of the other four states are appointed by the Federal Government. Effective executive power rests in the hands of the Chief Minister of each State, and the members of their State cabinets, selected from the members of the State assemblies.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:12 AM

Intellectual life in Malaysia is not limited to the country’s seven universities. In addition to public lectures and seminars given in the national language at the universities, there are various other professional and service organizations whose activities are open and which welcome foreigners as members. Examples are the Malaysian Nature Society, the Malaysian Association for American Studies, and the Malaysian Culture Study Group.

The National Museum in Kuala Lumpur houses exhibits on Malaysian culture and history. The city also has a National Art Gallery and several small private art galleries that regularly put on exhibits of local and internationally recognized artists. Two new symphony halls offer local and Western performances, including symphonic orchestras. Major hotels and foreign missions frequently sponsor exhibitions and musical and dramatic performances. Several amateur groups also present dramatic and/or musical performances relating to the major cultures represented in Malaysia.

The Museum of Asian Art at the University of Malaya exhibits an excellent collection of ceramic art. Lessons are available in Kuala Lumpur in Asian art and music.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:13 AM

Malaysia has manufactured its way out of dependence on primary commodities. It remains the world's largest exporter of palm oil, and is a significant producer of rubber, tropical timber, tin, and cocoa. The country is also an important non-OPEC producer of oil and natural gas. In recent years, however, manufactured exports have overtaken commodities in importance. In 1998, manufactures accounted for 82.9% of Malaysia’s export earnings, versus 13.6% for primary commodities.

Malaysia is promoting the development of industries that can take advantage of its commodity raw materials. It is encouraging manufacturing ventures in petrochemicals, latex gloves, oleo chemicals, food processing, and furniture. Industry is currently dominated by production of electronic components, telecommunications equipment, electrical machinery, room air-conditioners, televisions, and textiles and apparel. Malaysia is the world’s leading exporter and third largest producer (after the US and Japan) of semiconductors.

A large number of American companies have a presence in Malaysia. These include Esso, Motorola, Intel, Texas Instruments, Mattel, Colgate-Palmolive, RJR Nabisco, Citibank, American International Assurance (AIA), and Johnson and Johnson. In 1998, US investment totaled US$6.2 billion on a historical cost basis as measured by the USDOC: 60% in the petroleum sector, and 40% in the microelectronics and manufacturing sectors.

Malaysia has established the “Multimedia Super Corridor” (MSC), which is a 9 by 30 mile zone extending south from Kuala Lumpur devoted to companies wanting to create, distribute, and employ multimedia goods and services. The Malaysian Government has targeted seven multimedia applications for development: electronic government; telemedicine; smart schools; a national multipurpose card; R&D clusters; worldwide manufacturing webs; and borderless marketing centers.

The U.S. is Malaysia’s largest trading partner. Total two-way merchandise trade was $28 billion in 1998, with Malaysia running a trade surplus with the U.S. of $10 billion. In 1998, Malaysia was the U.S.’ 12th largest partner and 18th largest export market. ASEAN countries absorbed 23.9% of Malaysian exports and Japan took 10.5% of Malaysian exports.


Automobiles Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:16 AM

In the last several years, Kuala Lumpur has rebuilt a large part of its network of streets and highways. While several new roads have been built to help alleviate the over-crowding, traffic can be heavy and slow, especially at peak hours.

Traffic is comprised mainly of cars and motorbikes, with some trucks and buses, and moves on the left. Right-hand drive vehicles are the norm, although left hand vehicles may be registered. Driving outside the city is more difficult and dangerous, except on the modern North- South Expressway. Learning the city is a challenge as the extensive map books do not show all new freeways and cannot take into account the two-way streets that become one-way overnight.

Most Americans have their own cars; many families have two. All U.S. Government employees assigned to the Embassy and listed on either the diplomatic or nondiplomatic staff lists are accorded duty-free privileges for importing and registering an automobile according to the following formula. Diplomatic-list personnel, with more than two registered drivers at post, may import, or purchase locally, and register two vehicles duty-free for their use at any time during their tour. Nondiplomatic-list personnel may import one vehicle duty-free within their first six months at post. Hefty duties and registration fees must be paid for vehicles, including motorcycles, in excess of one for nondiplomatic-list personnel, and two for diplomatic-list personnel.

Importation and registration procedures can take as long as two months after assessment of the value of the vehicle. Bring the vehicle’s title and registration certificates, or certified copies, to post. You can save time in this process by sending the make, model, year of manufacture, motor number, and chassis number to post before your arrival.

All vehicles operated in Malaysia must have third-party liability insurance coverage. Premiums are reasonable for the basic policy, which carries unlimited liability. If you have made no claims on your insurance policy for the past year or more, bring a letter to that effect from your insurance company to obtain a discount on insurance. Deductions are not granted without such a letter. Comprehensive insurance is considerably more expensive than in the U.S.

Cars more than five years old cannot be imported without special permission; contact the administrative section for guidance. All cars must have front seatbelts and cannot have windows tinted more than 50%. Several Embassy personnel have had trouble registering their vehicles because the tint was considered too dark. Even light factory tint causes problems and can delay the registration process. Embassy staff members can purchase tax-free numerous makes of foreign- manufactured, locally assembled right-hand-drive vehicles (mostly Ford, Honda, Mazda, Toyota, Volvo, and Mercedes). Delivery, including various Ministry clearances, takes 6-8 weeks. Spare parts for these vehicles are readily available, whereas parts for vehicles not sold in Malaysia must be specially imported and are, therefore, expensive. Parts for American-made cars are both hard to find and expensive. Local mechanics are not familiar with American cars and are likely to have difficulty with anything beyond simple basic repairs. Numerous mechanics can repair any type of Japanese car, and some European cars, if replacement parts are available. Body and fender work is good. Sales and service facilities are maintained by several European and Japanese car companies and for locally assembled cars.

New cars bought in Kuala Lumpur are more expensive than those purchased directly from manufacturers abroad, even with the tax exemption provided for locally purchased vehicles. Extra costs can total over $2,000 over the factory price. Shipping privileges make it more economical to have a car delivered to the post rather than to purchase a new car locally. Note, however, that locally purchased vehicles may be easier to service and resell. Allow 1-3 months for delivery of a car from a foreign manufacturer or from the US.

Used cars are occasionally available duty free from departing diplomats and have historically retained their sales value. Models that are normally sold in Malaysia have higher resale value and lower maintenance costs. Cars with left hand drive and large engines (over 2,000 cc) have little sales value; standard sized American cars cannot be sold. Sales tax is imposed when selling a locally assembled car to nondiplomatic personnel. The sales tax on an imported vehicle is about 150% of its value as estimated by the motor vehicle department at the time of sale.

Many members of the staff have purchased used cars at reasonable prices from two Japanese car dealers in Tokyo after their arrival at post. Delivery time is less than two months.

Recommended car features include: power steering, air-conditioning, tropical radiator (needed to prevent overheating in heavy traffic for cars with air-conditioning) and rustproofing. Sport utility vehicles are popular and practical for travel off the main roads, but are not necessary for normal city and highway driving. Repairs for automatic transmissions, power brakes, and steering for older cars can be a problem since spare parts and skilled labor are scarce. Tires, both imported and locally manufactured, are available.

Everyone who drives in Malaysia must have a Malaysian driver’s license. A valid U.S. driver’s license and two color photographs are necessary to obtain a Malaysian license, so be sure to bring yours. Personnel may operate a motor vehicle for up to 90 days after their arrival in Malaysia if they possess a valid American or international driver’s license.

Gasoline and diesel fuel are plentiful throughout Malaysia. The retail price for premium gasoline (97.5 octane) and unleaded gasoline is about $.33 per liter. Unleaded gasoline is widely available in Malaysia. Diplomatic-list personnel receive a tax rebate of about 40% from the Malaysian Government on the price of gasoline.


Local Transportation Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:16 AM

Buses and minibuses are crowded except late at night and can be unreliable. Taxis are numerous, metered, and inexpensive, but can be hard to find at peak hours or when it is raining. One has to move to a main road before being able to find a taxi. Drivers usually speak enough English to reach a destination and to follow directions, but language problems are still frequent and some drivers do not know the city well. Some members of the Embassy use city buses, and there is a clean and efficient light-rail system.

Transportation for official purposes during office hours is usually available through the Embassy motor pool. However, the motor pool's resources are limited, so occasionally employees must use private cars or taxis, and claim reimbursement for official travel.


Regional Transportation Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:17 AM

Malaysia’s west coast has a well developed system of roads between major cities. Paved and fairly well maintained, these primarily two-lane roads are usually congested because of heavy use by buses, taxis, and trucks. A paved coastal road follows the east coast. Its traffic is not as heavy as that on the west coast, but the main trunk roads occasionally suffer from lack of repair. A good road across the Peninsula connects Kuala Lumpur with the east coast. Other cross-peninsular routes exist farther south; in the north an east-west highway cuts through the jungles and mountains and links the two coasts. The roads on both coasts are scenic and you can drive with ease on the North-South Expressway, which runs from Singapore to Thailand. Many employees prefer to fly to avoid the traffic. By car, Singapore and Penang are four hours from Kuala Lumpur.

Train travel is inexpensive. Many employees find it quaint, even rustic, but occasional delays occur. Daily train ser vice connects Kuala Lumpur with Penang and Singapore. From Penang, the international express operates to Bangkok daily; reservations must be booked in advance. The trip to Singapore takes from 6-10 hours, depending on the type of train. First-class accommodations with air-conditioning are available, as are sleeping compartments on night trips.

Bus service is quicker than the train, and less expensive, if less colorful.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport is 70 kilometers from Kuala Lumpur. Regular jet service operates between major cities in the region with connections to Western Europe and the U.S. At the present time, no American carriers fly direct to Kuala Lumpur.

Taxis are available at the airport. Fares are based on a zone system. If notified in advance, sponsors will meet newly assigned personnel at the airport to assist in arrival procedures.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:18 AM

Telephones have been installed at all government-owned and leased housing. Monthly rental charges are based on radial distance from the main exchange. Minimum rates are US$10 per month, and an extension costs an additional US$2.40 per month. Local calls are billed according to the length of the call and the time when the call is made. Phone installation at newly leased housing may take some time to install. Direct dial facilities exist to most of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, and the U.S.

Telephone service to the U.S. is available 24 hours daily. Personal overseas calls can be made from home. Calling cards from AT&T, Sprint, or MCI can be used. Calls from the U.S. are usually cheaper than those placed from Malaysia. Personal phone bills are paid at the end of each month.

Telegrams may be sent from main telegraph offices, post offices, and hotels, by phone, or through the Embassy mailroom. Fax facilities are also available, and are often a cost-effective way to communicate. The Embassy's fax number is: 60- 3-2142-2207. E-mail is a favorite way to stay in touch at low cost.


Internet Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:19 AM

If you plan to install an extra line for Internet use, start the process at the Embassy as soon as you can. There can be a lag time of several weeks between the order date at the Embassy, the installation of extra wire at the house, and the arrival of the Telecom worker to hook up the new number.


Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:19 AM

American personnel correspond by daily APO mail, international airmail, or diplomatic air pouch, which is sent from post twice each week. Incoming pouch mail arrives once a week. Letters sent to the U.S. by air pouch or through the APO require U.S. domestic-rate postage. U.S. stamps are sold by the APO. First-class mail sent from the U.S. takes about 2-4 weeks by air pouch, 1-2 weeks by APO, 6-9 weeks by international surface mail, and 8-12 days by international airmail. Delays are common for both air pouches and surface-to-air pouches; letters and magazines sometimes arrive more than a month after being mailed in the U.S. APO generally is the preferred way to receive mail, including magazine subscriptions and parcels.

Packages may be sent via APO. Packages sent via APO are limited to a maximum 108 inches total length and girth, and a maximum of 70 pounds. Liquids and glass are prohibited. The outgoing pouch may be used only for letter mail, cassettes, undeveloped film, and for the return of merchandise ordered from post. Incoming pouch mail is limited to personal mail, magazines, and packages under 40 pounds. International airmail to and from Malaysia is reliable, but packages can be subject to delays in customs, and both international mail and the pouch can be unreliable. Parcels within the size limits should be sent through the APO.

Address APO mail as follows:

(Name) American Embassy - KL APO AP 96535 - 8152

Diplomatic Pouch (Name) Department of State (Kuala Lumpur) Washington, D.C. 20521 - 4210

International Mail (Name) American Embassy P.O. Box 10035 50700 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Radio and TV Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:21 AM

English language programs share time with broadcasts in Malaysian, Chinese, and Tamil on both radio and TV in Malaysia. Voice of America and BBC can be received via short-wave radio, as can Radio Singapore and Radio Australia. There are four TV channels; two government and two privately owned. In addition to local productions, Tamil movies, and Chinese movies and soap operas, the stations show a variety of American, British and Australian programs. Two private satellite services are Mega TV, with five channels, and ASTRO, with 30 channels. These can provide CNN, HBO, ESPN, the Discovery Channel, the Disney Channel, and Cartoon Network. For these services in a private residence, a dish must be purchased and mounted at the house and a receiver box with card installed (about $200), and a monthly subscriber fee is charged. Apartment dwellers are sometimes spared the cost of a satellite dish if provided by their apartment complex.

Malaysia uses the European PAL TV system. Conversion of U.S.-type sets, which is expensive, is not recommended. Many employees bring multi-system TVs and VCRs with them to post. European and Japanese sets are sold locally. Prices are approximately equal to those in the US. TV sets can also be rented, but at a relatively high cost. Duty-free privileges make it feasible to order a TV from Singapore. PAL system videos can be rented or purchased locally, though DVD and VCD formats are more popular and available now.


Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:23 AM

English language programs share time with broadcasts in Malaysian, Chinese, and Tamil on both radio and TV in Malaysia. Voice of America and BBC can be received via short-wave radio, as can Radio Singapore and Radio Australia. There are four TV channels; two government and two privately owned. In addition to local productions, Tamil movies, and Chinese movies and soap operas, the stations show a variety of American, British and Australian programs. Two private satellite services are Mega TV, with five channels, and ASTRO, with 30 channels. These can provide CNN, HBO, ESPN, the Discovery Channel, the Disney Channel, and Cartoon Network. For these services in a private residence, a dish must be purchased and mounted at the house and a receiver box with card installed (about $200), and a monthly subscriber fee is charged. Apartment dwellers are sometimes spared the cost of a satellite dish if provided by their apartment complex.

Malaysia uses the European PAL TV system. Conversion of U.S.-type sets, which is expensive, is not recommended. Many employees bring multi-system TVs and VCRs with them to post. European and Japanese sets are sold locally. Prices are approximately equal to those in the US. TV sets can also be rented, but at a relatively high cost. Duty-free privileges make it feasible to order a TV from Singapore. PAL system videos can be rented or purchased locally, though DVD and VCD formats are more popular and available now.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

Numerous magazines and newspapers are published in East and West Malaysia, many in Malaysian, Chinese, and Tamil. Several are published in English, and some English-language newspapers in Kuala Lumpur serve a national market. Most foreigners read the New Straits Times (morning), The Star (morning), The Sun (morning), and the Malay Mail (afternoon), which give limited coverage to U.S. and international news and sports, and more extensive coverage to local news and to other life-style topics. The Asian Wall Street Journal and Asian editions of USA Today, Time, Newsweek, and Reader’s Digest are sold locally. A few other selected U.S. periodicals arrive by air close to the time of their release in the U.S., or by surface mail several weeks or months later. The International Herald Tribune is available in Kuala Lumpur daily and always has good coverage of U.S. news and sports. The Far Eastern Economic Review gives excellent coverage of Asian news. A U.S. subscription via APO is recommended for non-news magazines, and a local subscription is recommended for news magazines. Magazines delivered through the APO usually arrive the week of publication.

The Lincoln Resource Center, the library/reference center of the U.S. Information Service, has a selection of books, a periodical section, and a large selection of American reference material on CD ROM. The International School also has a good library, with computers available. Membership in the British Council, which is open to Embassy staff, provides access to its library. The Community Liaison Office in the Embassy maintains a collection of paperback books for Embassy personnel. American and British hardback and paperback books are sold in hotels and numerous bookstores, but they are usually expensive. Several Embassy employees are members of mail-order book clubs, which deliver through the APO. (If you join such a club, be sure to request the international division, to avoid being shipped books before you receive the monthly catalog.) And, of course, the Internet is available for information and e-commerce and is relatively easy with the APO.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:24 AM

A limited Health Unit with a contract registered nurse is housed within the Chancery. Services for routine ailments are provided, namely dressings for wounds, over-the-counter medicines, and an appropriate doctor's name for consultation. The Health Unit does not do lab tests, but can give immunizations for Hepatitis A and B, diphtheria and tetanus, the oral vaccine for typhoid, as well as seasonal Flu vaccines.

Currently, many people use two hospitals close to the Embassy: Ampang Puteri Hospital and Gleneagles. These hospitals are good for general medical problems. Gleneagles, a private facility resembling a standard western hospital in operation, is closest to the Embassy and most residences, and has an emergency room staffed 24 hours daily. The General Hospital should be used in the event of a snakebite, as it is the only hospital with anti-venom. A group of physicians at the Subang Jaya Medical Center, located near the international airport, can provide medical treatment and advice to the Embassy staff and dependents. Many specialists are in practice at Subang Jaya and at a clinic at KLCC. Pre-departure physicals can also be performed at the clinic.

Employees pay for office visits and then claim reimbursement from their insurance carriers. Many local physicians have received at least part of their training in Australia, the UK, or the U.S. Specialists on the staffs of various hospitals are available for consultations through referrals by the Embassy medical advisors. Complicated medical problems and major surgery may require medical evacuations to Singapore or to the U.S. if recommended by the regional medical officer. The regional medical officer (RMO), stationed in Singapore, is scheduled to visit at regular intervals, but can be consulted by phone in an emergency. The regional psychiatrist, based in Bangkok, visits Kuala Lumpur periodically.

Several dentists operate private clinics in the city and can meet routine dental needs, including orthodontic care. Orthodontia tends to be cheaper than in the US, but treatment may differ from U.S. practices.

No special facilities provide services for the handicapped except for special instruction given by the International School on a very limited basis for children with reading disabilities and some other learning difficulties.

Health and Medicine

Community Health Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:25 AM

Tropical fatigue can last for several weeks after arrival. The climate can be debilitating because of the uniformly high temperatures, the rainfall, high humidity, and the lack of seasonal variations.

Colds, bronchial disturbances and sinus conditions are common and tend to linger longer than they do in the U.S. Air conditioning undoubtedly contributes to this problem since many restaurants and shops are uncomfortably over-cooled in relation to the outside temperature.

Dengue fever, including the hemorrhagic variety, exists throughout Malaysia, and expatriates are occasionally affected in Kuala Lumpur. Cholera cases occur; and recently there was a case of typhoid fever among employees. In the past, Americans have contracted hepatitis A. Chloroquine-resistant malaria exists, mostly in rural areas, and the number of reported cases has increased. Open drainage ditches and stagnant water at construction sites facilitate breeding of mosquitoes in the city. A malaria suppressant, Mefloquin, is available from the Embassy nurse, and recommended for jungle travel.

The occasional story of food poisoning occurs, but Americans more often experience mild forms of diarrhea after eating in the local open-air food stalls. Several members of the Embassy staff regularly eat at the local stalls and small restaurants with no noticeable side effects.

As in any tropical country, skin rashes, fungi, and parasites are common. American employees have been diagnosed with hookworm. There are also several varieties of snakes, some of which are poisonous.

Drinking water should be boiled or chemically treated. Even with the frequent downpours, the reservoir water levels can get very low, and there is the possibility of contamination. Bottled water is widely available.

Most medical items and drugs can be purchased locally, but some drugs available over-the-counter in the U.S. are unavailable here. Some prescription drugs in the US are available over-the-counter in Malaysia, but the pharmacies mostly carry British medicines. Most pharmacies have a licensed pharmacist on duty at all times. Employees should check with post about the availability of any needed items prior to leaving the U.S. Favorite brands of vitamins and other items should be sent from the U.S.

Health and Medicine

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:26 AM

Before coming to post, inoculations against tetanus, hepatitis A and B, and typhoid are recommended. Take a tuberculin test so that any change during your stay can be investigated. Children and young adults should be inoculated against diphtheria and take the oral polio vaccine. Yellow fever immunization is required for everyone arriving from Africa or Latin America or other infected areas. Exposure to the intense tropical sun should be gradual to avoid serious sunburn.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:27 AM

Employment outside the Mission requires a Malaysian work permit, which is difficult to obtain and requires relinquishment of diplomatic status. Malaysian work permits are generally only issued to a person who can demonstrate skills not held by a Malaysian. Many jobs require the ability to speak Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese. In the case of prior-employment by a U.S. firm, securing the permit might be easier if handled by the firm.

The International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL) has an occasional need for teachers. ISKL arranges for the necessary work permit, and a nondip-lomatic visa is inserted into the personal passport in place of the diplomatic visa. Presently, there are approximately 1,150 students including the elementary, middle, and high school, with about 17 per class. Fifty countries are represented, with Americans making up 23% of the student body and Koreans and Japanese making up 14% and 11% respectively. For more information write to the school administrator at the following address:

International School of Kuala Lumpur P.O. Box 12645 50784 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur lies within the Federal Territory, an area of 244 square kilometers surrounded by the State of Selangor. It is near the middle of the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, 400 kilometers northwest of Singapore and 40 kilometers inland. Kuala Lumpur serves as the commercial center of the country.

American Embassy - Kuala Lumpur

Post City Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:27 AM

Kuala Lumpur lies within the Federal Territory, an area of 244 square kilometers surrounded by the State of Selangor. It is near the middle of the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, 400 kilometers northwest of Singapore and 40 kilometers inland. Kuala Lumpur serves as the commercial center of the country.

Security Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:54 AM

For a large city, the security threat is moderate. There are occasional purse-snatchings by motorcyclists and car break-ins. Houses are occasionally burgled; therefore the RSO recommends use of the alarm system at home. There have been isolated attacks on foreigners, but the day-to-day feeling is non-threatening. The Malays consider themselves a peace-loving people.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:28 AM

The Embassy and a few related offices and their employees in Kuala Lumpur are the only official American installations and employees in Malaysia.

The Ambassador heads the US Mission to Malaysia, which consists of the State Department’s Consular, Economic, Political, Public Affairs, Regional Affairs, and Administrative Sections; and several specialized agencies, including Defense Attaché’s Office, Security Assistance Office, Drug Enforcement Agency, Foreign Agricultural Service, Foreign Commercial Service, and a Defense Contract Management Office (DCMO). The Mission staff includes about 86 Americans and 150 Foreign Service Nationals.

The present Chancery, constructed in 1983, is located at 376 Jalan Tun Razak. A modern, attractive building in a common- pound, it houses the Marine House, a swimming pool, tennis court, gym, and transient quarters/social facilities. The Chancery is conveniently located between the residential and commercial sectors of Kuala Lumpur.

Office hours are 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Each officer is duty officer for one week every 3-4 months, and communicators are on duty about once a month. Marine Security Guards are on duty at the Chancery 24 hours daily to receive calls and visitors. Telephone numbers are: 60-3-2168-5000 and 60-3-2168-4959 (after 6 p.m.); the fax number is: 60-3-2142-2207. The Internet address is:

Newcomers are met and assisted at the airport and during their initial move to the hotel or permanent housing if the post is notified in advance of arrival time and flight information. The Community Liaison Office and volunteer sponsors help newcomers adjust to life in Kuala Lumpur.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:29 AM

Kuala Lumpur has excellent hotels; the Hilton, Marriott, Meridien, Regent, Shangri-La, Crown Princess, and Mi- Casa are all fairly close to the Embassy. All are fully air-conditioned and have swimming pools and restaurants. Most newcomers stay in transient quarters or at one of these hotels if quarters are not available immediately. Every effort is made to move new arrivals directly into their permanent housing.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:30 AM

Most personnel currently assigned to Kuala Lumpur occupy government-owned or government-leased, furnished quarters. The post housing board assigns all housing, except for the Ambassador's residence, DCM's home and Marine Quarters. A typical house consists of a living/dining area, a study, three bedrooms, two or more baths, a kitchen, and household staff quarters. The yards are ample and lush. The Embassy is moving more families into apartments close to the Embassy. The apartments are smaller than you may be accustomed to and generally have three bedrooms, a living/dining area, a kitchen, and house staff (maid) quarters which are often used for storage. Most apartments do not have storage rooms. The apartment complexes usually have pools. All houses and ground floor apartments are provided with security alarms, grills, a safe haven, and external security lights.

The Ambassador’s residence is about three blocks from the Chancery on a lovely street. The large, four bedroom, twostory colonial house sits on two acres of well-landscaped grounds next to the Royal Selangor Golf Club. The residence is furnished except for personal bedroom and bath linens. However, occupants should bring books, decorator pieces, pictures, and knickknacks to supplement what is provided. The Residence has a swimming pool and a badminton court.

The DCM’s house is located near the Chancery. The showpiece garden features a meandering fishpond, many flowers, and a patio by the swimming pool. The ground floor has a small guest room with bath, a dining room, living room, a half-bath for guests, a kitchen, and household staff quarters. Upstairs are three air-conditioned bedrooms, a family room, and three baths. With its contemporary design, the house lends itself to a variety of representational functions. These quarters are also furnished; occupants need only ship towels, blankets, bed and table linens, extra lamps, favorite paintings and knickknacks, and other personal items.

Inform the Administrative Counselor as far in advance as possible of your family’s size and needs, along with an estimated arrival date.


Furnishings Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:30 AM

All government-owned and government- leased residences are supplied with basic living room, dining room, and bedroom furniture made of rosewood or teak and some accessories, such as carpets, lamps, bedroom rugs, draperies, and curtains. All houses and apartments are air-conditioned.

A welcome kit is available to use just after you arrive and before you depart. It contains basic sheets, towels, dishes, flatware, cooking utensils, and some pots and pans. A limited number of irons, ironing boards, and cribs are also available as part of the welcome kit. Most cribs sold in Kuala Lumpur are much smaller than American cribs and do not meet safety standards. Most other baby supplies are easy to find, though at higher prices than in the U.S. Include in your airfreight baby cribs, if necessary, and other items that you will need immediately upon arrival.

Good-quality household items are more expensive in Malaysia than in the U.S. Ship your dishes, linens, flatware, glasses, towels, bedding, knickknacks, and other personal items. If desired, also ship artificial Christmas trees and trimmings, ice chests, and hobby equipment. There are good bookstores with a more limited selection than in the U.S., and sporting equipment is available in smaller sizes. Cameras and all electronic equipment such as stereos, radios, video recorders, computers and accessories, and small electrical appliances cost more in Malaysia than in the U.S. However, good quality, custom-made rattan, cane, teak, and rosewood furniture is sold locally at prices somewhat lower than in the U.S.

Humidity causes mildew in some homes. Books, records, leather items, and anything else that is not used or aired regularly or stored in air-conditioning are vulnerable. Closets and bureau drawers can take on a musty odor that is difficult to eliminate if not aired occasionally.


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:31 AM

All homes have a gas or electric stove, a microwave, hot water heaters, a clothes washer and dryer, air-conditioning in each occupied bedroom, study and living areas, and at least one refrigerator. Most hot water heaters are electric. Cooking gas is delivered in cylinders. Ceiling fans are usually supplied for living and dining areas. Kitchens, which can be the hottest room in the house, frequently are not air-conditioned; fans can help. Some homes are equipped with freezers.

The municipal water system is stretched to the limit, even though impressive deluges fall frequently. Water pressure is low by American standards; this is particularly noticeable when showering. There has in the past been water rationing or simply no water to certain areas of town where employees live. Water should be boiled before consumption.

The municipal electrical system is adequate, although most houses experience occasional power outages because of the frequent electrical storms. The electric supply is 230/250v, 50Hz, AC. Transformers are necessary for standard American appliances or others using 110/120v electricity. The Embassy supplies each home with three heavy-duty transformers. British-style three-prong plugs are standard, but adapter plugs are available. American equipment must be 50Hz/60Hz cycles in order to operate correctly; using transformers steps down the voltage from 220v to 110v, but does not change the cycles, which impacts on items with clocks, such as microwaves, and automatic coffee-makers. (The label on the back of appliances indicates the cycles as Hz.) Most appliances sold in Kuala Lumpur tend to be more expensive than in the U.S. Appliances should be shipped with household effects. Electronic equipment, although manufactured in the region, is at least as expensive as in the U.S. U.S.-purchased computers, printers, scanners, faxes, and answering machines all operate with transformers. Due to the intense lightning with resultant power outages and surges through the telephone lines, many people lose modems. Most replacement parts are available here, but are probably cheaper in the U.S. Ship your multi-system TV; your American system (NTSC) set will only play the sound, not the picture, from the PAL system programs or videos.

Many people make periodic shopping trips to Singapore for a more extensive selection of brand names and sizes than are found in Malaysia.

Food Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:32 AM

Kuala Lumpur has supermarkets, mini-markets, and street markets selling fresh produce and meats.

Some families use the van lady who will deliver food to the house several times a week. While the variety of grocery items is extensive, most imported items cost more than in the U.S. There is an excellent selection of tropical fruits and vegetables, which include both the familiar and the exotic, such as bananas, mangos, mangosteens, jackfruit, papayas, and the notorious, uniquely scented durian.

Local seafood of good quality includes prawns, crabs, eels, and a variety of fish. Local beef, mutton, pork and poultry are also available. Many Americans prefer frozen or chilled beef from Australia and New Zealand. U.S. beef is available, but expensive.

Many canned, bottled, frozen, and packaged goods are imported, as are most paper products. Shoppers can usually find the desired item or brand or a good substitute, but anything imported is more expensive than local brands. Include favorite brands in your shipment, keeping in mind expiration dates and the expected date of HHE arrival, the intense heat and possibility of insect invasions, and limited storage space in most apartments. Kosher meats are not available in K. L., but can be purchased in Singapore. Most stores stock baby foods, including formula, cereals, and strained foods. These items are more expensive here than in the U.S. Strained baby foods carry freshness dates. Not all brands of American-made formula are available and not all formula containers are dated for freshness, so arrange for shipment of any special brand recommended by a pediatrician. Disposable diapers vary in quality and are more expensive than in the U.S.; if you have a favorite brand, include it with shipment, keeping in mind the storage issue.

The Embassy Welfare Association oversees a small commissary. Liquor, wines, beer and limited personal grocery items are sold to Embassy staff with duty-free privileges at prices a bit lower than market prices. The commissary places orders with the Navy Exchange in Singapore every two months; Association members may place private orders at the same time. There are no military commissaries or exchanges in Kuala Lumpur.

Clothing Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:33 AM

Malaysians are style-conscious and well dressed. Some of the latest trends in Western fashions are Asian. However, Westerners should be conscious of relatively conservative dress codes in certain circumstances, especially among Malays. Use discretion in selecting attire to avoid inadvertently causing embarrassment to your host or guests. This is particularly important for women (i.e. no sleeveless dresses worn to functions with Malays). Traditional dresses for Malay women have ankle-length skirts and long sleeves.

Generally speaking, Malaysia’s hot, humid climate calls for light clothing, except at hill resorts where sweaters or light jackets may be needed, especially at night. Extensive use of air-conditioning, often super-cooled, in offices, hotels, and restaurants needs to be taken into account in selecting attire. Lightweight sweaters and linen jackets for women, and suit jackets or blazers for men, are sometimes needed for comfort. Rainstorms in Kuala Lumpur can be torrential, often occurring in the late afternoon, but are usually brief. Because of the heat, umbrellas are used instead of raincoats. They are also used as shade when walking in the sun.

Clothing and shoe stores in Kuala Lumpur offer a wide selection. However, adult sizes tend to be smaller than in the US, and large sizes can be hard to find. Prices are comparable to those in the Washington area. Bring comfortable, practical-style shoes for the whole family, especially for the children. It is possible to find shoemakers who will make shoes to order at reasonable prices.


Men Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:34 AM

Office attire varies, but senior officers and those dealing with Malaysian officials generally wear business suits, working with shirt and tie in the office, but wearing a jacket to meetings outside the office. Others may wear lightweight trousers with shirt and tie, or open-necked shirt, depending on what is appropriate for their duties. Many reasonably priced tailors are available, and there are good supplies of imported and domestic materials. Attractive and locally produced batik ties and shirts are reasonably priced. Cotton batik shirts cost half or less of silk batiks. Shoes larger than size 10 are hard to find.

A tuxedo or white dinner jacket may be worn to the Marine Ball, the American Association's George Washington Ball, and other occasional formal events, but dark suit and tie is also acceptable. Invitations that specify “batik” are common and mean that men should wear a long-sleeved batik shirt, which is a practical and relatively formal dress. “Lounge suit” specifies dark business suit as the required dress, and “casual” means sport shirt (with collar) and lightweight trousers (sometimes referred to as “smart casual”). Men serving as the Ambassador or DCM, or the husband of the Ambassador or DCM, will need a morning coat (which may be rented locally) to wear at the presentation of credentials. A morning coat is required for the Agong’s birthday and at the opening of Parliament.


Women Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:35 AM

Women wear lightweight dresses with either long or short sleeves, or light skirts and blouses. Evening wear suitable for dinner parties in Washington during the summer will generally be equally acceptable in Kuala Lumpur, subject to the social considerations mentioned above. A number of dress-makers can copy patterns and do a good job for a reasonable sum. In general, custom-tailored clothes are better than readymade clothes, which can be expensive, poorly tailored, of inferior quality, or too small.

Women serving as Ambassador or DCM, or the wives of an Ambassador or DCM, need dresses with long sleeves or sleeves at least below the elbow, stockings, gloves, and hats for palace functions and calls on the Agong and State rulers. The royal color, “Windsor yellow,” cannot be worn when royalty might be present.

There are many shoe stores in Kuala Lumpur, but shoes larger than size 9 and narrow widths are hard to find.


Children Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:35 AM

Clothing requirements for children are simple. Schools require uniforms, but they can be purchased inexpensively here. Summer-weight clothes are worn all the time, except at the hill resorts. Bring a large supply of cotton clothing for children since their clothing wears out quickly. The local stores carry clothes chiefly for very small children. Tennis shoes, sports shoes, and thongs are popular for all casual activities, but can be impossible to find in the appropriate children’s size in K.L. It is easier to locate good shoes in Singapore and many people shop with catalogs or on the Internet for shoes. School uniforms include regulation shirts, which must be purchased at the school, and navy blue pants or skirts, which can be made inexpensively or bought at school. High school students can wear navy blue or white slacks or long shorts. Girls may also wear navy blue or white skirts. They are sold at the Ampang campus bookstore. No denim is allowed. Lightweight sweaters are good for the ultra-air-conditioned rooms.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:36 AM

Malaysia is becoming an increasingly consumer-oriented society, and numerous shopping malls cater to the needs of Malaysia’s growing middle class and the many expatriates living in Kuala Lumpur. Almost any product you would want, or a reasonable substitute, can be purchased in Kuala Lumpur. American towels, linens, and bath accessories are a better value and higher quality; they can be ordered from catalogs, if need be. There is a Toys “R” Us store, but selection is very limited and many products are of poor quality.

Most standard household and medical supplies and toiletries are readily available, and are likely to be British or Australian. Bring a good supply of your favorite brands of cough and cold remedies, cosmetics, contraceptives, colognes, shaving cream, deodorants, and curling irons. Some familiar American brands of shampoo and toothpaste are readily available. Some items are in constant supply, while others appear and disappear unexpectedly.

Familiar brands of American and English cigarettes and Dutch and English cigars are sold locally, as are various pipe tobaccos.

Supplies and Services

Basic Services Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:37 AM

Tailoring, dressmaking, and shoe repair are all easy to obtain. Laundry poses no problem since all government-owned and -leased quarters are equipped with washers and dryers. Dry cleaning services are available but treatment for special-care fabrics is not always available. Beauty shops and barbershops abound. Those in the international-class hotels are convenient, if expensive, and provide the most acceptable service. However, many people try the numerous unisex styling salons found in shopping malls or the small barbershops clustered in alleyway shop houses run by Malay, Chinese, and Indian barbers.

Auto repair is inexpensive, but spare parts can be a problem. Some cars require more frequent repairs because of rough road conditions, heavy stop-and-go traffic, and a high incidence of minor accidents.

A number of electronic shops do fair radio repairs and can adapt turntables to operate on 50Hz electricity. Stereos, TVs, radios, and VCRs normally do not require this type of adjustment for use in Malaysia. Necessary conversion parts for American equipment, which should be obtained from the manufacturer in the US, can be installed in Malaysia.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:38 AM

Most personnel at post have household help, usually a woman called an “amah.” An amah is a necessary employee if only to let in and supervise the stream of workers arriving to fix things. (To avoid theft, the front gates are kept closed, so that all repair men, gas or water deliverymen, pest control crew, and air conditioner maintainers must ring to gain entrance.) Single staff members, unless they entertain frequently, or do not like to cook, usually only need a part-time amah. Some families prefer a full-time, live-in amah. The houses require more housekeeping than usual because of the pollution, and fierce rains which cause leaks. There are no daycare facilities for children under two, so household help is essential. Normally only representational homes will have more than one amah. Amahs, especially good ones, are becoming increasingly difficult to find, so employees departing post often try to help arrange for their amahs to be hired by their replacements. Average salaries for full-time live-in amahs range from RM$800-RM$1100 per month. Expect to pay in the higher range for an experienced amah or if you have a large family. Household staff have 1 ½ or 2 days off each week, usually Saturday and Sunday. A bonus equivalent to one month’s salary is standard and is usually given at the appropriate holiday-Chinese New Year for Chinese staff, Hari Raya (at the end of the month of Ramadan) for Malays, and Deepavali for Indians.

Most homes, but few apartments, have domestic staff quarters. Staff uniforms and furnishings are not provided by the Embassy, so extra towels, bed linens, and a fan might be included with HHE shipment. Most Embassy staff living in a house employ a part-time gardener. Personal drivers are usually not needed. Extra help for parties can be hired for an evening. Several catering services provide quite satisfactory service at reasonable prices.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:38 AM

Malaysia is officially an Islamic country. However, non-Moslems are free to pursue their own religious beliefs and worship as they please. A variety of religious organizations serve the local Chinese, Indian, and expatriate communities. To avoid unintentionally giving offense, try to become familiar with the standards of behavior appropriate for interacting with members of each of the major Malaysian ethnic groups. Basic information is provided in Selamat Datang and Malaysian Customs and Etiquette.

For Christians, local Anglican, Lutheran, Mormon, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, and Roman Catholic denominations hold English-language services. The Presbyterian congregation serves as the principal expatriate international Protestant church, welcoming attendance by all worshipers without regard to previous affiliation. The nearest Synagogue is in Singapore.

Education Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:40 AM

The International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL) is the school most Embassy children attend. ISKL provides elementary and secondary education for foreign students using American elementary and college preparatory curriculums. ISKL has been accredited by the Western Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges. The education allowance equals the cost of tuition and other fees at ISKL.

The school offers classes from preschool (ages 3-4 years) through grade 12. Students transfer to equivalent grades in the US. Enrollment is approximately 1,150, with students from 50 different countries represented. Americans make up 23% of the student body; Koreans and Japanese make up 14% and 11% respectively; Australians comprise 10%.

ISKL offers a full college-preparatory program as well as a variety of extracurricular activities and intramural sports. Graduating seniors have a high acceptance rate at the colleges to which they apply in the US. The school provides bus transportation, but no boarding facilities. Each year the faculty and students present several stage productions. The playing field is used not only for school events, but also for community softball games on Sunday afternoons, and other community events. ISKL begins the school year in early August and ends in June, with Christmas and Spring breaks, but celebrates Malaysian instead of American holidays.

The school is divided into two campuses located several miles apart: one for pre-kindergarten through grade 5, the other for grades 6-12. The upper school (grades 6-12) includes a gymnasium, swimming pool, tennis courts, outdoor basketball courts, an outdoor playing field, an open-air snackbar, air-conditioned classrooms, a library, and an auditorium. The elementary school has a spacious campus with a swimming pool, auditorium, library, playing fields, and computers. For more information, write to the ISKL administrator at the following address:

International School of Kuala Lumpur P.O. Box 12645 50784 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia or e-mail:

Be sure to contact ISKL directly to begin the registering process, as the Embassy is no longer able to pre-register children.

The second American curriculum school, Mont Kiara International School, is in its sixth year of operation. Since August 2000 it has accepted students through grade 12. Mont Kiara accommodates 800-850 children total. Full-time learning resource services are available. Advanced placement (AP) courses are currently offered in several subject. The International Baccalaureate Program (IB) is under investigation for possible implementation in the near future. The learning resource programs, sports and extracurricular programs, are fully operational, and the commitment is definitely there to continue to expand these programs. The address is:

Mont Kiara International School 22, Jalan Mont Kiara 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Telephone: 60-3-253-8604 Fax: 60-3-253-6045 or e-mail:

The private Alice Smith School uses a mainly British curriculum. It offers instruction from kindergarten through the equivalent of grade 12. For more information, write to:

Alice Smith School Jalan Bellamy Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Telephone: 60-3-248-3674

The Garden School, although similar to the Alice Smith School in its use of a British curriculum, differs in that it offers instruction through the secondary level. For more information, write to:

The Garden School 251 Jalan Bukit Bintang Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Telephone: 60-3-651-8988


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:41 AM

With the exception of the International Islamic University, local four-year colleges and universities normally are not open to foreigners; and in any case, an increasing number of courses are being taught in Bahasa Malaysia rather than English. Some private two-year colleges will accept foreigners, but check to be sure credits can be transferred to a recognized U.S. school.

Other classes in various Malaysian arts and handicrafts are offered periodically in the community. For further information on these classes, check Selamat Datang, the information book published by the women’s division of the American Association. This book contains extensive information on such topics as local customs, food, tourism, shopping, churches, schools, and clubs. If you are in Washington, check the Overseas Briefing Center where there is a copy on file.

Bahasa Malaysia classes are sometimes taught at ISKL, and ISKL also has an extensive ESL program. There are also Learning Resource teachers to help with reading difficulties, and limited facilities to help with other learning disabilities. No other special education resources are available.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:44 AM

Walking, jogging, and biking are difficult at best and are normally dangerous except in parks due to the narrow, uneven lanes and the continual traffic. However, since the British era, local clubs have been the main focus of organized social life and athletic activities among the expatriate community. There are quite a few available; prices range from moderate to expensive. The usual process to join involves an application with deposit, sometimes a sponsorship, and an interview. Several clubs have designed temporary memberships that are of use to the expatriate population. Some of the best clubs in Kuala Lumpur now require fees that are prohibitive for even the most senior officers. However, always inquire about temporary membership in any clubs in which you are interested.

Many of the larger hotels have modern health clubs open to local residents. One that is especially convenient is the “Sweat Club,” located adjacent to the MiCasa Hotel, one block from the Embassy. The Sweat Club offers a full range of health club exercise facilities, including an aerobics studio, exercise machines, a swimming pool, tennis courts and a squash court. Only children 18 years or older are allowed.

The Mutiara Hotel Racquet Club has two tennis courts and five squash courts on the roof of the downtown Mutiara. Members are entitled to use the hotel pool, and can play basketball, ping-pong, use the gym and sauna. Limited aerobics classes are also offered. Only those 16 and older may use the facilities. Diplomatic staff members do not have a waiting period to become members.

Kelab Darul Ehsan (KDE) offers “term” and fully transferable memberships. The club has indoor and outdoor tennis, squash, badminton, an exercise room, swimming pools, nine-hole golf course, and restaurants and is fairly close to the Embassy.

The Raintree, which is also close to the Embassy, features a pool, bowling, indoor tennis, a gym with aerobics, badminton and squash, as well as a restaurant.

The Subang Golf Club, about 30 minutes from downtown, has facilities for golf, swimming, tennis, squash, snooker, dining, and slot machines. The golf course is rated one of the top 10 in Malaysia.

The Lake Club, located near the Parliament building on the other side of town, has two-year temporary memberships available. To be accepted, one must be sponsored by two members who have been active members for three years or more.

Century Park Club, near the Melawati campus of ISKL offers permanent memberships and visiting memberships. The temporary card may be renewed each year for the same price and this allows you access to the facilities: the pool, tennis courts, badminton, squash, gymnasium, aerobics classes (extra charge), bowling (extra), the library, and discounts in the restaurant. They also feature karaoke, classes in karate, a ballroom to rent, and organized jungle trekking up the hill behind the club. They take groups of 10 or 20 people who then overnight in a chalet.

The Selangor Polo and Riding Club offers riding instruction for children and adults as well as polo for experienced adults. School horses are available for lessons, and members may board their own horses at the club. The club has a bar and scheduled occasional activities in connection with tournaments and other special events. There is a per ride charge, depending on the instructor, of between US$10 and US$17 for a half hour.

The Bukit Kiara Club offers free membership to diplomats and has all of the usual amenities. Several families enjoy it, but it is a 20-minute drive from most homes.

The Selangor Yacht Club, located an hour away in Port Kelang, owns several sailboats that members can rent at moderate rates. Mooring and landing facilities are also available. The club operates a bar and restaurant. The club, which has about 200 members, sponsors weekly sailboat races. Temporary memberships for two years are available, with the recommendation of two sponsors.

Kelab Golf Angkatan Tentera (the Armed Forces Golf Club) is located on the Air Force Base just south of town. It features a short, but challenging ninehole golf course. The clubhouse includes a bar and small restaurant. Only 50 expatriates can be members at any one time, but the wait is minimal.

The Royal Selangor Flying Club, at the military airport 6 kilometers from the center of the city, provides its own planes for private flying instructions and for members' use. The major advantage to joining the club is to share costs for chartering with other pilots.

The Royal Port Dickson Yacht Club is located 1½ hours away from Kuala Lumpur on a beach along the Straits of Malacca. Facilities include a restaurant, five tennis courts, four squash courts, a swimming pool, billiards, boat rentals, equipment for windsurfing and water skiing, and an active yacht basin. Three month temporary memberships are currently available.

The Hash House Harriers, a 60-year old association of cross-country running enthusiasts, and its associated splinter groups, organize runs through oil, palm, and rubber plantations. Membership rates are reasonable and there is no wait to join at the present time.

Several other clubs have more open membership arrangements. The Selangor Club, also known as “The Spotted Dog,” is located downtown facing several of Kuala Lumpur’s more picturesque colonial structures across a large public green. Housed in a renovated colonial building featuring Tudor styling, it has long been a landmark in Kuala Lumpur. The club uses the green for national tournaments and its own sporting events including, cricket, soccer, field hockey, squash, and tennis. Besides four grass tennis courts, the club facilities include a restaurant and ballroom. Bridge lessons are available. All membership applications must be sponsored by two members. Temporary memberships are available.

More affordable recreation includes several bowling alleys and the Embassy’s pool and tennis court. Embassy personnel enjoy various other formal and informal activities such as runs, golf and tennis tournaments, games such as bridge and mahjong, and a Malaysian culture group to explore and learn about Malaysia.

Public facilities, such as swimming pools, tennis courts, and playgrounds for children, are limited; however, there are two water parks, an amusement park, laser tag, and ice-skating. The ISKL pool is open to pupils and their families during certain hours of the day.

Recreation and Social Life

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:46 AM

Short trips to areas out of Kuala Lumpur offer a change of scenery and diversion from the pace of city life, but only the highlands offer any relief from the city’s hot, humid climate. Hazardous driving conditions outside of Kuala Lumpur deter many potential travelers, but the rewards of the change of scenery and natural beauty of the country make it worth the effort. In general the roads are well maintained but winding and overcrowded. The Awana Golf Club, and Genting Highlands complex, about a one-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur, winding through beautiful landscaping up into the Pahang mountains, includes several hotels and a golf course, indoor arcades for the children, outdoor amusement park rides, and offers a cool change to the lowlands. Fraser’s Hill, about 100 kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur and 2½ hours away by car, sits at an altitude of 1,370 meters, and is reached by a narrow, winding mountain road. The resort offers a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts, squash courts, and walking paths through the jungle. The weather is refreshingly cool despite high humidity. Sweaters or light jackets may be worn at night. Besides accommodations at various hotels, the resort rents numerous houses and bungalows, each with full furnishings and its own staff. Make reservations 1-2 weeks in advance. For major holidays, some families book a year in advance.

Higher, at 1,450 meters and further north than Fraser’s Hill, Cameron Highlands offers the same basic change in climate. It lies about 240 kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur, about five hours away by car. Cameron Highlands offers hotels, bungalows, restaurants, and an 18-hole golf course. Most are at reasonable rates; some are very high. There are also several hiking trails through the mountain forest. Flowers and excellent local produce, such as strawberries, can be purchased in the area, which is also known for the tea plantations that dot the hillsides.

A round trip can be made in a day by car to Port Dickson, 100 kilometers southeast of K. L. (about 1½ hours drive each way). Port Dickson, a seaside resort, consists of the town itself and a series of sandy bays stretching 17 kilometers south along the coastal road. Facilities are available for swimming, fishing, water skiing, wind surfing, tennis, and golf. Unfortunately, many areas of the beach are no longer scenic and have pollution problems. Several rest houses and hotels provide meals and accommodations. Company-owned bungalows can be rented for a weekend or several days at reasonable cost, but they have become harder to find.

Malacca, situated about 150 kilometers southeast of Kuala Lumpur, a two-hour drive by highway (or longer if the scenic coastal drive is taken), is one of the more interesting and picturesque places in Malaysia. The city’s architecture reflects its long history as a seaport city-state and later as a colonial stronghold of the Portuguese, Dutch, and British, who held it from 1824 until Malaysia’s independence in 1957. Though prices for antiques have climbed in recent years, some members of the Embassy staff enjoy window-shopping in Malacca for Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, and British antiques. Malacca is a good place to take visitors.

Like Malacca, Penang offers many opportunities for camera enthusiasts and sightseers. An island city off the northwest coast of Malaysia, Penang boasts beautiful beach hotels, an inclined railway to the top of Penang Hill, ferries to the mainland, small antique shops, and numerous temples, mosques, and British colonial buildings. Flights from Kuala Lumpur take about an hour. Penang can also be reached in six hours by car on the pleasant North-South Expressway, or by a route that takes the traveler through the principal tin mining region of the country and near Kuala Kangsar, the site of the Ubidiah Mosque, one of the most beautiful in Malaysia.

Singapore lies about an hour away by air or four hours by car off the southern tip of the peninsula. It offers a wide range of shopping and sightseeing opportunities, and a cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Both car and boat are used to reach Taman Negara, the National Park, which is in the middle of the peninsula six hours from Kuala Lumpur. The drive is around four hours and then travelers ride two hours in longboats over the shallow river to the park entrance. There are camping or bungalow facilities, and trails in virgin jungles give hikers excellent opportunities to see Malaysia's flora and fauna in their natural habitat. Caution should be taken to avoid leech and insect bites during certain times of the year.

On the island of Borneo, also known as Kalimantan, the states of Sabah and Sarawak, and the Sultanate of Brunei, have unique history, some modern resorts, and give the truly adventurous a chance to glimpse aboriginal culture, jungles, and mountains. East Malaysia can be reached in two hours by flights across the South China Sea.

The East Coast, accessible by plane or car, offers beautiful white-sand beaches and numerous examples of Malay culture and handicrafts. The drive to the nearest East Coast city, Kuantan, takes 4- 5 hours. Kuala Terengganu and Kota Baru are several hours further north along the coast. Roads are fairly good. The pace of life is considerably more relaxed than in Kuala Lumpur. Several resorts, including a Club Med, have opened along the coast in recent years.

A number of small, secluded islands off both coasts have hotel accommodations. Many are ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling, particularly those off the East Coast, such as Tioman Island. Tioman is one hour from K.L. by air, and lovely, but seasonal (March to September). Perhentian and Redang islands are also popular beach-fun spots. Off the West Coast, Pangkor Island resorts are increasingly popular year round. By car, it is a 4½ hour drive to Lumut followed by a short ferry ride to the island.

There are many interesting places to visit around Kuala Lumpur: there is the National Museum; Batu Caves, an immense limestone cave north of the city; Chinatown; bird and butterfly parks; orchid gardens; a pewter factory, batik factories, and a local handicraft center. Tours to visit local places of interest in the vicinity are available through the hotels, and are sometimes arranged by the CLO.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:47 AM

A number of air-conditioned theaters in metropolitan Kuala Lumpur show a good selection of American films, but some films are censored. Local cinemas also show a variety of Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, and Malaysian films, occasionally with English subtitles. Ticket prices are reasonable. Although the city has no professional theaters, the major hotels do have occasional dinner theater presentations, amateur theatrical events are staged at ISKL, and local professional productions are occasionally presented at various venues.

Dining out is a favorite pastime of many on the Embassy staff. The cuisine offered by local restaurants reflects the rich diversity of Malaysia’s population; literally hundreds of restaurants, coffee shops, and open-air food stalls specialize in Malay, Indian, Western, and any of several types of Chinese food. Dining out is fairly inexpensive with the exception of a few of the hotel restaurants. Restaurants are sanitary and are quite good. The food can be exciting to taste and, at open-air restaurants or stalls, exciting to watch being prepared. For those who seek other kinds of excitement, the city also has several discos and a number of bars and nightclubs. Visiting musicians perform at several concerts each year.

Penang and East Malaysia have organized festivals and pageants that may appeal to the enthusiastic traveler. Most festivals in Kuala Lumpur are celebrated in a low-key manner. A parade marks Malaysian Independence Day; banners and arches are erected for Hari Raya, which marks the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan; and a Quran-reading contest occurs each year during Ramadan. At Chinese New Year, lion dancers and firecrackers can be seen and heard throughout the Chinese sections of the city. During the Indian festival of Thaipusam, hundreds of thousands of devotees come to Batu Caves just north of the city to pay homage to Krishna. Many devotees carry ornately decorated “kavadis,” some attached to their bodies with hooks through the skin. Smaller, but still elaborate, versions of the Thaipusam festivities occur in Penang and elsewhere throughout the country.

Photographers will find many interesting subjects in Malaysia. Both black-and- white and color film is available. Most kinds of film can be developed in Kuala Lumpur. Photographic supplies can be purchased for reasonable prices in Malaysia and Singapore.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 7/11/2003 11:00 AM With the assistance of the CLO, spouses organize welcomes for newcomers with gatherings such as coffees, teas, or poolside potlucks. The Marines host occasional social events at the Marine House and the annual Marine Ball. The American Embassy Welfare Association (AEWA) also sponsors community events, such as Easter, Christmas, Welcome, and Hail and farewell parties. The American Association of Malaysia (AAM), which is open to all resident Americans, conducts charity and social programs, luncheons, and trips to Bangkok and other parts of Asia. AAM also sponsors the George Washington Birthday Ball, the Memorial Day picnic, and a community Fourth of July Celebration. The women’s division meets monthly and offers a variety of classes and other activities. The women’s division also publishes Selamat Datang, a comprehensive and useful book about all aspects of life and facilities available in Kuala Lumpur, and also an excellent cookbook.

Embassy personnel rely primarily on small dinner parties or cocktail parties to socialize. Videocassette recorders are popular among the Embassy community. Videotapes using the British PAL system can be rented locally. The quality ranges from good to fair.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

International Contacts Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:48 AM Diplomatic social life in Kuala Lumpur consists of cocktail parties, luncheons, and dinner parties in homes, private clubs, or restaurants. The Embassy maintains cordial social relations with most of the diplomatic community.

The Lincoln Resource Center, while primarily for Malaysians, also welcomes Americans. The Center also features a library of books and journals, specializing in American social studies and the humanities. Similar facilities are offered by the British Council, the Goethe Institute, and Alliance Francais.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:49 AM

The Ambassador or Deputy Chief of Mission can expect to attend a number of royal state functions during a tour. These occasions, which coincide with national or religious holidays, royal weddings, or investitures, are carefully regulated and meticulously arranged.

Members of the diplomatic corps are invited to attend band concerts, parades, public receptions, or other entertainment on state occasions. Usually, as in the case of royal functions, only the Ambassador, the DCM, and a few senior officers are invited. Foreign missions follow the same procedure with invitations for “national day receptions,” which are usually large afternoon or evening gatherings held at a club, hotel, or official residence.

The emphasis in local social life is on buffets, luncheons, dinners, cocktails, and morning coffees or teas. Embassy officers sometimes hold buffet receptions serving from 30 to over 200 guests. Official functions usually begin at 8 p.m. to allow for evening prayers. Dietary restrictions of the various religious and ethnic groups must always be taken into consideration. Moslems do not eat pork; Hindus do not eat beef; many Indians are vegetarian. For further information, see the section on etiquette in Selamat Datang.

For an official function such as the opening of an art exhibit or a reception, a man can wear a batik shirt in lieu of standard office attire if specified on the invitation. Women are expected to dress more formally in modest dresses.

Kuala Lumpur has 67 resident diplomatic missions, 55 of which are headed by resident Ambassadors or High Commissioners. About 500 diplomatic officers reside in Kuala Lumpur.

Official Functions

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:50 AM

Paying calls is not widely practiced in Kuala Lumpur, but is optional and most officers use business cards in carrying out their daily business. Locally printed or engraved cards are easy to obtain at reasonable prices and are of very good quality. Social activities are relatively casual in Malaysia. The most important rules concern the religious practices and other cultural differences that identify the various ethnic groups. These rules are detailed in Selamat Datang as well as in Malay Customs and Etiquette (See Recommended Reading.)

Special Information Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:50 AM

The States of Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia maintain separate customs and immigration offices, so travel to the Borneo States must be treated as an international journey (take passports). All long-term residents of Malaysia must obtain national identity cards (ICs). Embassy personnel are issued diplomatic or nondiplomatic ICs depending on their status. Local sales tax and restaurant or entertainment taxes are not refundable and must be paid by all personnel.

Post Orientation Program

The CLO coordinator sends newcomers a welcome letter after assignments are announced. The post will also send a welcome cable containing useful information. The CLO also finds a volunteer sponsor to help newcomers adjust to life in Kuala Lumpur. On arrival, newcomers will receive Welcome Kits consisting of basic linens, dishes, and kitchenware. The CLO, the volunteer sponsor, and the Administrative Section jointly handle processing and orientation of new arrivals.

Periodically, the Embassy holds an orientation briefing session for newcomers and adult dependents. This orientation ensures that all official Americans are aware of the Mission's basic operations and goals in Malaysia. The RSO provides security briefings to all newcomers.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:51 AM

Currently there are no American carriers that fly directly into Kuala Lumpur. Under current Fly America regulations, incoming personnel can connect with foreign carriers in Singapore, Tokyo, Nagoya, Hong Kong, or Bangkok. It is important to schedule air flights as soon as plans are firm because air travel between the U.S. and Asia is very busy, particularly during the summer.

Airfreight usually arrives within two weeks of shipping; surface freight within two months. Long delays in shipping are not uncommon. Customs clearance procedures can extend the wait an additional 2-6 weeks. Contact the Department or the nearest U.S. Despatch Agent for instructions and necessary documentation for shipping household effects to Kuala Lumpur from the U.S. When you get to post, be sure to follow up on both airfreight and HHE for speediest delivery.

Tell packers to ensure that liftvans and shipping containers are made as waterproof as possible. Heavy rains are frequent, and shipments awaiting clearance at Port Kelang, 40 kilometers from Kuala Lumpur, have been severely damaged by rain.

Before shipping a car, post must request approval to import, so cable make, model, year, engine capacity, color, and both chassis (VIN) and engine number to post. Vehicles with windows and windscreens tinted more than 50% cannot be registered in Malaysia and waivers are not granted. Several people have had to remove tint from their windows and even light factory tint will cause a lengthy battle with customs. All autos must have a rear center high-mounted brake light. The Government of Malaysia considers motorcycles to be POVs and separate customs declarations are required. If you are including a motorcycle in your HHE shipment, please ensure that it is shipped in an individual crate, and inform GSO by cable or e-mail that it is on the way. Automobiles do not need to be boxed for shipment to Malaysia. To prevent pilferage en route, ship cigarette lighters, tools, and other removable items in your HHE. Ship effects only on vessels that bypass Indonesian ports; numerous incidents of pilferage have been reported there. It is very important to remember that UAB, HHE, and POV shipments should not arrive at post more than 30 days prior to your arrival. Customs will turn away such shipments and they will be returned to the place of origin. Please be sure to forward the packing list, the original bill of lading, and air waybill to post as soon as possible, to avoid heavy demurrage and storage charges.

Port Kelang is the port of entry for Kuala Lumpur, and it can handle 20-40 foot containers. Address all surface shipments to:

(Name) American Embassy Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Port of Discharge: Port Kelang

Make sure that you carry with you to post the bill of lading for seafreight and air-way bill number with you, since they are needed to trace shipments.

Good packing services are available in Kuala Lumpur for outbound shipments, and fairly good temporary storage facilities exist. Even though some protection is afforded under the Military Personnel and Civilian Claims Act of 1964, insure personal effects shipped to and from Malaysia.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:52 AM

All officers and staff are granted exemptions from duty on personal and household effects and any other imports throughout the period of assignment. Employees on the diplomatic list may import or purchase in Malaysia two vehicles tax and duty free; those not on the list may import or purchase one vehicle tax and duty-free.

Clearance procedures normally take around two weeks for airfreight, so pack anything you want immediately in your accompanied baggage. HHE takes about three weeks to clear after it arrives. POV clearance/registration/licensing procedures take about 5-6 weeks, but cannot even begin until after the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has issued a diplomatic/home-based identity card to the employee. Card issuance usually takes 2-3 weeks after employee submits application form and photos through the Embassy GSO (General Services Office) section to MFA. POV procedures are longer than UAB and HHE procedures because another agency, the Road Transport Department, is involved in registration and licensing. Procedures for the registration of a used car purchased from a departing diplomat are somewhat faster; but, as always, require the MFA identity card in order to start. The original car title, or a certified true copy, is required for the import permit to be issued.

Personnel of all agencies and dependents 12 years of age and older should bring 10 to 12 1½” x 2” color photos for use at the post. The Administrative section requires photographs of the employee, spouse, and dependent children over age 12 in order to obtain residence visas, Foreign Office identity cards, and Malaysian drivers licenses. You can have the pictures taken at post, but to expedite matters, you should arrive with the necessary photos. The residence visa takes 2-3 weeks to process and currently must be renewed each year. With this 12-month, multiple-entry visa, employees and dependents may travel freely in and out of Malaysia.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Passage Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:52 AM

Valid visas, issued by Malaysian authorities, are required for arrival in Malaysia, as well as evidence of inoculation against cholera, typhoid fever, and yellow fever if the traveler is coming from an infected area. The Malaysian Government issues single-entry visas for the initial trip to Malaysia. Visas are not normally required of Americans making short social or business visits of 90 days or less to Malaysia.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Pets Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:53 AM

If you plan to ship a pet, let post know one month before shipping so that reservations can be made at a quarantine facility. Do not ship your pet until you have received confirmation that space is available. The following information is required by post to make the reservation: quantity, name of pet/s, species, age, sex, breed and color, as well as the name of the carrier, flight number, time of arrival, and air waybill number. A health certificate and a copy of current vaccination records must accompany the pet. Rabies vaccinations are not necessary before shipping, as pets will be vaccinated before leaving quarantine. Pets shipped from non-Commonwealth countries must be quarantined for one month upon arrival in Malaysia. However, pets of diplomatic personnel are often released after 7 days and put under “house quarantine” for the remainder of the 30 days.

The quarantine kennel is a 30- minute drive from Kuala Lumpur. The kennel costs about $1.20 per day to board cats and $1.60 for dogs. It is best to have pets arrive with you, as the Embassy cannot assist otherwise.

Excellent veterinary care is available locally. Several tropical canine diseases, for which treatment is not fully successful, are peculiar to Malaysia. Ticks and fleas can be a serious problem in some sections of the city. American pet foods are available, although more expensive than in the U.S.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:54 AM

In compliance with host government policy, the Embassy does not permit firearms to be shipped to post.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:54 AM

The Malaysian ringgit is freely convertible. The exchange rate, which fluctuates daily, was $1=RM$3.8 in December of 2002. Employees are encouraged to maintain a US dollar checking account in a U.S. bank. Local Malaysian ringgit checking accounts can be obtained with a signed letter from the Administrative Counselor and a copy of your passport. Such accounts are freely convertible into U.S. dollars.

Personal U.S. dollar checks are accepted as deposits to local Malaysian ringgit accounts, but expect to encounter delays of up to three weeks while the check clears. The simplest, most convenient way to convert U.S. dollars to Malaysian ringgit is with the Embassy cashier. No limit is placed on the importation of U.S. dollar instruments at the time of entry or thereafter. American banks maintaining branches in Kuala Lumpur are Citibank, Chase Manhattan, and the Bank of America. Traveler's checks can be purchased at these and other banks as well as from the local American Express office.

Malaysia uses the metric system, and government efforts to enforce its use have done away with a host of old measuring units including pounds, katis, taels, and piculs.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:55 AM


Embassy policy limits the importation of personal property to items and quantities adequate for the exclusive use of the employee and accompanying dependents during their tour at post. Malaysian law requires that all items brought into the country must be taken out when the employee departs. The sale of items in the country requires the prior approval of the Malaysian Government. Approval for the sale of vehicles is granted routinely at the time of the employee's departure.

Non-diplomatic staff have duty-free import privileges only for their first six months at post.

All Embassy personnel are exempted from paying road tax (automobile registration), Malaysian income tax, and import duties on items imported for personal use. Dependents employed outside the official mission are customarily subject to Malaysian income tax.

Existing U.S. Government policies and regulations concerning the acquisition and disposal of duty-free articles are strictly enforced. Importing items in quantities that exceed reasonable anticipated needs or for the purpose of sale, barter, or exchange violates Malaysian law.


Local currency derived from the authorized sale of personal property by American personnel departing from post may be negotiated through a bank regularly licensed under Federation laws or may be purchased as an accommodation exchange transaction by the Embassy Class B cashier. All transactions for conversions of funds must have the prior approval of the Administrative Counselor.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:57 AM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on Malaysia. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.


Abdullah, Asma. Going Global: Cultural Dimensions in Malaysian Management. Malaysian Institute of Management, 1996.

American Association of Malaysia. Selamat Datang.

APA Photoguide. Prentice-Hall, Inc.: Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Andaya, Barbara Watson and Leonard Y. A History of Malaysia. Macmillan: London, 1982.

Baker, Jim. Crossroads, A Popular History of Malaysia & Singapore, Times Books International, 1999.

Barber, Noel. War of the Running Dogs: How Malaysia Defeated the Communist Guerillas, 1940-60. Collins: London, 1971.

Bedlington, Stanley S. Malaysia and Singapore: The Building of New States. Cornell University Press: Ithaca, NY, 1978.

Bock, Philip K. ed. Culture Shock: A Reader in Modern Cultural Anthropology. University Press of America: Lanham, MD, 1981.

Chandra, Muzaffar. Islamic Resurgence in Malaysia. Penerbit Fajar Bakti Sdn. Bhd.: Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, 1987.

Chapman, Spencer. The Jungle is Neutral. Times Books International: Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Crouch, Harold. Government and Society in Malaysia. Cornell University Press: Ithaca and London.

Gomez, Edmund Terence and Jomo, K.S. Malaysia's Political Economy: Politics, Patronage and Profits. Cambridge University Press: 1997.

Hall, D.G.E. A History of Southeast Asia. 4th ed. St. Martin's Press: New York, 1981.

Henderson, John W., et al. Area Handbook for Malaysia. American University Foreign Area Studies: Washington, DC, 1970 (Available from US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.)

Hoefer, Hans, ed. Jalan-Jalan. Apa Productions: Hong Kong, 1981.

Mahathir bin Mohamed, Datuk Seri. The Malay Dilemma. Federal Publications: Kuala Lumpur, 1982.

Malaysia, A Country Study. U.S. Department of the Army: Washington, DC, 1984. (Available from U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.)

Means, Gordon P. Malaysian Politics: The Second Generation. Oxford University Press: Singapore, 1991.

Nagata, Judith. The Reflowering of Malaysian Islam. University of British Columbia Press; Vancouver, 1984.

Raslan, Karim. Ceritala. Times Books International: Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, 1996.

Raslan, Karim. Heroes and Other Stories. Times Books International: Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, 1996.

Rehman Rashid. A Malaysian Journey.

Rehman Rashid: Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, 1993.

Roff, William R. The Origins of Malay Nationalism. Yale University Press: New Haven, 1967.

Runciman, Steven. The White Rajas, A History of Sarawak From 1841 to 1946. Cambridge University Press: London, 1960.

Ryan, N.J. The Cultural Heritage of Malaysia. 2nd ed. Humanities Press, Inc.: Atlantic Highlands, NJ, 1971.

Sodhy, Pamela. The U.S.-Malaysian Nexus: Themes in Superpower-Small State Relations. Institute of Strategic and International Studies, Malaysia, 1991.

Syed Amin, Noor Ainu. Malaysian Customs and Etiquette: A Practical Handbook. Times Books International: Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, 1991.

Wang Gungwu, ed. Malaysia, A Survey. Praeger: New York, 1964.

Internet http://www.bernama.common


Burgess, Anthony. The Long Day Wanes: A Malaysian Trilogy. Norton: New York, 1977.

Burgess, Anthony, ed. Maugham's Malaysian Stories. Heinemann Asia: Singapore, 1969.

Fauconnier, Henri. The Soul of Malaya. (Translated from the French by Eric Sutton.) Oxford University Press: Kuala Lumpur and London, 1965.

Han Su Yin. And the Rain My Drink. Jonathan Cape: London, 1956; reprint Grafton Books, 1973.

Theroux, Paul. The Consul's File. Houghton Mifflin Co.: Boston, 1977.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 7/11/2003 10:59 AM

In addition to standard U.S. Government holidays, the Embassy observes the following Malaysian holidays:

Kuala Lumpur City Day February 1 Chinese New Year February 12-13* Awal Muharram (Islamic New Year) March 15 Malaysian Labor Day May 1 Prophet Muhamad's Birthday May 25 Malaysian National Day (Independence Day) August 31 Deepavali (Indian New Year) November 4* Hari Raya Puasa December 6-7*

Exact date depends on lunar calendar. Dates listed are for 2002.

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
Share |