Malaysia–United Kingdom relations

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Malaysia–United Kingdom relations
Map indicating locations of Malaysia and United Kingdom


United Kingdom
Diplomatic mission
Malaysian High Commission, LondonBritish High Commission, Kuala Lumpur
High Commissioner Ahmad Rasidi HaziziHigh Commissioner Charles Hay

Malaysia–United Kingdom relations (Malay: Hubungan Malaysia–United Kingdom; Jawi: هوبوڠن مليسيا–اونيتد كيڠدوم) refers to bilateral foreign relations between Malaysia and the United Kingdom. Malaysia has a high commission in London,[1] and the United Kingdom has a high commission in Kuala Lumpur.[2] Both countries are full members of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Leaders of the two countries

Harold MacmillanAlec Douglas-HomeHarold WilsonEdward HeathHarold WilsonJames CallaghanMargaret ThatcherJohn MajorTony BlairGordon BrownDavid CameronTheresa MayBoris JohnsonTunku Abdul RahmanAbdul Razak HusseinHussein OnnMahathir MohamadAbdullah Ahmad BadawiNajib RazakMahathir MohamadMuhyiddin YassinUnited KingdomMalaysia

Country comparison[edit]

 Malaysia  United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Coat of arms Coat of arms of Malaysia.svg Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.svg
Flag Malaysia United Kingdom
Population (2017) 32,049,700[3] 66,040,229[4]
Area 330,803 km2 (127,724 sq mi) 242,495 km2 (93,628 sq mi)
Population density 92/km2 (240/sq mi) 270.7/km2 (701/sq mi)
Time zones 1 1
Capital Kuala Lumpur (Constitutional)
Putrajaya (administrative)
Largest city Kuala Lumpur – 1,768,000 London – 8,673,713
Government Federal parliamentary elective constitutional monarchy Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Established 31 August 1957 (Independence from UK)
16 September 1963 (Formation of Malaysia)
1 January 1801
First leader Tuanku Abdul Rahman (Monarch)
Tunku Abdul Rahman (Prime Minister)
George III (Monarch)
William Pitt the Younger (Prime Minister)
Head of state Monarch: Abdullah of Pahang Monarch: Elizabeth II
Head of government Prime Minister: Muhyiddin Yassin Prime Minister: Boris Johnson
Legislature Parliament of Malaysia Parliament of the United Kingdom
Upper House Senate
President: Rais Yatim
House of Lords
Lord Speaker: The Lord Fowler
Lower House House of Representatives
Speaker: Azhar Azizan Harun
House of Commons
Speaker: Lindsay Hoyle
Judiciary Federal Court of Malaysia
Chief Justice: Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
President: The Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury
National language Malaysian English
GDP (nominal) (2017)[5] US$336.330 billion ($10,192 per capita) US$2.638 trillion ($39,229 per capita)
GDP (PPP) (2017)[5] Int$900.426 billion ($27,287 per capita) Int$2.979 trillion ($44,288 per capita)


High Commission of Malaysia in the United Kingdom

Colonial period[edit]

Francis Light founded Penang's capital city of George Town in 1786, making it the first British settlement in Southeast Asia.[6] A statue of Light still stands in the city's Fort Cornwallis.

English traders had been present in Malay waters since the 17th century.[7] Before the mid 19th century, British interests in the region were predominantly economic, with little interest in territorial control.[8] The growth of the China trade in British ships increased the East India Company’s (EIC) desire for bases in the region. Various islands were used for this purpose, with the first permanent acquisition being Penang, which was leased from the Sultanate of Kedah in 1786.[9][10] This was followed soon after by the leasing of a block of territory on the mainland opposite Penang (known as Province Wellesley).[11] In 1795, during the Napoleonic Wars, the British with the consent of the Netherlands occupied Dutch Malacca to forestall possible French interest in the area.[12][13]

In 1824 British hegemony in Malaya was formalised by the Anglo-Dutch Treaty, which divided the Malay Archipelago between Britain and the Netherlands. The Dutch evacuated Malacca and renounced all interest in Malaya, while the British recognised Dutch rule over the rest of the East Indies.[9][14][15] By 1826, the British controlled Penang, Malacca, Singapore and the island of Labuan, which they established as crown colonies of the Straits Settlements, administered first under the EIC until 1867, when they were transferred to the Colonial Office in London. On the other hand, White Rajahs (founded by British adventurer James Brooke) ruled the Raj of Sarawak from 1841 to 1946,[16][17] while North Borneo was founded by the North Borneo Chartered Company.[18][19] Both Sarawak and North Borneo subsequently became a British Protectorate,[20] and a Crown colony in 1946.[21][22] In 1944, the British drew up plans for a Malayan Union, which would unite the Federated and Unfederated Malay States (except for Singapore), into a single Crown colony, with a view towards independence. It was established in 1946, and was dissolved in 1948 to be replaced by the Federation of Malaya. The federation became independent from the United Kingdom on 31 August 1957, and joined North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore to form a new larger federation known as the Federation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963.[23][24] However, in less than two years upon the founding of the federation, Singapore was expelled as a consequence of the 1964 race riots.[25][26]


The Yang di-Pertuan Agong in a carriage with Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom on the state visit to London, 1974.

The modern relations between the two countries was conditioned and shaped by British colonial rule in the country from the 19th century until its independence.[27] Since the foundation of the Malaysian Federation, several visits have been made between each other leaders. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdul Halim of Kedah paid a state visit to the United Kingdom in July 1974.[28] The next Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak paid a state visit to the United Kingdom in November 1993.[28] Queen Elizabeth II paid state visits to Malaysia in October 1989 and September 1998.[29] David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom visited Malaysia in the first half of 2012 as part of his Asia tour. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge visited Malaysia from 13 to 16 September 2012, as part of a nine-day tour through Commonwealth countries in Southeast Asia and the Pacific to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee.[30] On 2 November 2017, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, made an official visit to Malaysia to commemorate the 60th anniversary of bilateral relations between the two countries.[31]

Economic relations[edit]

Since 1963, the British Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (BMCC) has been providing British businesses with networking, knowledge exchange, trade assistance and support in Malaysia.[32]

Malaysia is the UK's second-largest trading partner in ASEAN.[33]

In 2017, the United Kingdom is Malaysia's fourth largest trading country in the European Union (EU) with annual goods and services trade at £3.34 billion.[34] In April 2017, United Kingdom Secretary of International Trade Dr Liam Fox said their country affirmed its commitment to increase trade and investment as part of a determined effort to reach out to its trading partners and to reassure that the United Kingdom was open for business beyond Brexit after the former triggered article 50 for the secession from the EU while acknowledging the massive investments by Malaysian companies in the country such as in the Battersea Power Station.[34] The Malaysian side also announced its ready to work with the United Kingdom.[35] In September 2017, the United Kingdom Prime Minister's trade envoy to Malaysia Richard Graham visit Malaysia to promote United Kingdom's education expertise and positioned the country as the overseas investment destination of choice for Malaysian companies and investors, adding that the country has more than doubled its export funds to £5 billion to support two-way trade with Malaysia.[36] In October 2017, the United Kingdom Mega Tech Mission 2017 (comprising 50 leading-edge technology companies) heading to Malaysia to widen business outreach and explore new technology deals with local players.[37][38][39]

In 1996, the two countries signed a double taxation agreement.[40]

Education relations[edit]

The British Council has provide English language mentoring to thousands of local primary school teachers in East Malaysia under the English Language Teacher Development Project (ELTDP) with the Malaysian government.[41][42][43]

Security relations[edit]

The United Kingdom maintains relations with Malaysia's Ministry of Defence and the Malaysian Armed Forces. This relation began during the colonial rule of Malaya and Singapore prior to Malaya's independence in 1957, including the confrontations between the ruling government and communist forces. Both Malaysia and the United Kingdom are part of the Five Powers Defence Arrangements.[44][45]



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  2. ^ "British High Commission Kuala Lumpur". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
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  5. ^ a b "Report for Selected Countries and Subjects". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
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