Malaysia Energy and Environment Facts

Natural resources, energy and environment

Malaysia is one of the world’s largest tin producers. In the 1970s, oil and natural gas were found to be among the country’s most important export goods. Electricity comes mainly from natural gas.

Tin has been broken on the Malacca peninsula for over 1,000 years, and in 1980 Malaysia was the world’s largest tin producer. Thereafter, the prices of the metal fell, many mines were closed and other countries took the lead in tin production. Later, prices rose again and reached record highs in 2008. Malaysia also has an important role as a builder of tin.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Malaysia with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.

Also bauxite (the raw material in aluminum), iron ore, gold and coal are mined. The mining sector contributes to a tenth of the country’s GDP, but employs less than 1 percent of the workforce.

Malaysia is a major producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and one of Southeast Asia’s leading oil producers. The country is also one of the world’s most important timber exporters (see Agriculture and Fisheries).

Electricity is generated mainly from natural gas (nearly 50 percent) but also from coal (just over 40 per cent) and to a lesser extent from hydropower and oil. The share of electricity coming from oil has decreased from 56 percent in 1990 to just over 1 percent in the mid-2010s. Fuel imports account for around one-seventh of total import costs.

An expansion of hydropower is ongoing, not least at Borneo. The locals have sometimes protested against the dam construction which forced them to leave their homes when they were submerged.

  • Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, MY stands for Malaysia. Visit itypeusa for more information about Malaysia.

Read more about Malaysia’s environmental problems in Agriculture and Fisheries.


Energy use per person

3,000 kilos of oil equivalent (2014)

Electricity consumption per person

4646 kilowatt hours, kWh (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions in total

242 821 thousand tonnes (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant

8.0 tons (2014)

The share of energy from renewable sources

5.2 percent (2015)



Malaysia is prosecuting Goldman Sachs

December 17

Malaysia’s state prosecutor is suing Goldman Sachs and two former executives at the US Bank for plundering the government fund 1MDB in excess of $ 6 billion through shady deals with bonds. Goldman Sachs, for its part, accuses the former Malaysian government, led by Najib Razak, and the 1MDB fund for lying to the bank. The billions must have gone to buying luxury items, including Najib Razak and his wife. When the transactions were done, 1MDB’s CEO and Board reported directly to Najib Razak according to Goldman Sachs. Central to the fraud scene should be a Malaysian financier, Low Taek Jho, without any formal position.


Anwar Ibrahim becomes the leader of PKR

November 13

Anwar Ibrahim is unanimously elected leader of the People’s Justice Party (PKR) and thus replaces his wife Wan Azizah.


Another indictment is brought against Najib Razak

October 25th

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak and Mohamad Irwan Serigar Abdullah, a senior official in the finance ministry during Najib Razak’s time in power, are charged with plundering the state for $ 1.6 billion. It is the 38th indictment brought against Najib Razak since he resigned as head of government in connection with the election loss (see May 2018). The vast majority of the allegations are linked to the scandal surrounding the state fund 1MDB. The two defendants deny the crime.

Anwar Ibrahim is sitting in Parliament

October 13

Anwar Ibrahim wins a filling election in Port Dickson and can take his place in the legislative House of Representatives.

The government wants to abolish the death penalty

October 11

The government is proposing the abolition of the death penalty, on the grounds that support for this penalty has declined among Malaysians. In Malaysia, the death penalty is punished for, for example, murder, drug trafficking, illegal weapons possession, kidnapping and terrorist offenses. There are at least 900 convicted prisoners in the country. Executions, which always occur by hanging, are rare. The decision to abolish the death penalty is taken by a vote in Parliament.


Twenty-five new charges against Najib Razak

September 20

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak is charged with a further 25 counts of money laundering and abuse of power, police say. The suspected crimes must have been committed when $ 681 million was transferred between his private account and the 1MDB fund. Najib Razak has previously been charged with seven counts of, for example, abuse of power and corruption.


Najib Razak is charged with money laundering

August 7th

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak is charged with three counts of money laundering. He is suspected to have received 42 million ringgit (equivalent to $ 10 million) from the state fund 1MDB. The money should have been deposited into his personal account. Najib was also indicted in July, that time for corruption and abuse of power. Najib has repeatedly stated himself to be innocent. He was acquitted in a previous investigation that was carried out while he was still the head of government.


China-supported construction projects are scrapped

July 5

In connection with a comprehensive review of contracts signed during the reign of Najib Razak as prime minister, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is tearing up three major Chinese-backed projects with a total value of several billion dollars. These are plans to build two oil pipelines and a railway. All three would have been built by Chinese companies. The decision is justified by the fact that Malaysia has a growing government debt. The Malaysian government emphasizes that the decision is not directed at China as a nation. Najib Razak’s government had warm relations with China. In May, Mahathir Mohamad scrapped plans to build a high-speed train between Malaysia and Singapore, something agreed several years ago. The motivation was that the project would be too expensive.

Najib Razak is charged with corruption

July 4th

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak is charged with corruption and abuse of power in connection with the scandal surrounding the state fund 1MDB. He is accused of embezzling $ 700 million from the fund he set up himself in 2009. The defendant maintains that he is innocent. Najib Razak is released after bail on bail pending trial in February 2019. He risks being sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. Investigations concerning Najib Razak and 1MDB are also ongoing in several other countries, including the United States.

Hundreds of accounts frozen

July 2

The government-appointed investigators announce that they have frozen 408 bank accounts with links to the state fund 1MDB. The accounts have assets worth a total of $ 272 million. The transactions reviewed in the accounts were made between March 2011 and September 2015 and came from individuals, political parties and individual organizations.

Crisis Umno gets new chairman

July 1st

Umno elects Vice-Party Chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as new chairman after Najib Razak. Umno is the leading party in the National Front (NF). After the election defeat in May, several alliance parties have left the NF to join or co-operate with Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s Hope alliance instead.


Luxury for hundreds of millions seized at Najib Razak

June 27

In a series of raids against six properties belonging to former Prime Minister Najib Razak, the police find cash and valuables, including quantities of precious jewelry, 423 watches and 567 luxury bags, for a total value of between $ 225 million and $ 273 million. The police’s response is part of the investigation into the so-called 1MDB scandal. The investigation was reopened when Mahathir Mohamad took office as Prime Minister.

Malaysia withdraws the appeal on the island

June 1st

Malaysia withdraws its appeal to the International Court of Justice in The Hague (ICJ) on the Batu Puteh rock island in the Singapore Strait that the Court awarded Singapore in 2008 (see Foreign Policy and Defense). The ICJ had planned to raise the case on June 11. Nothing is said about what is behind Malaysia’s decision.


The working group will investigate the 1MDB hump

May 21

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announces the appointment of a special working group to investigate crime suspicions in connection with the 1MDB scandal. The state 1MBD fund was set up by Najib Razak.

Anwar Ibrahim leaves prison

May 16

Anwar Ibrahim, leader of the Hope Alliance and the People’s Justice Party, is released after being pardoned by the King. He has been jailed for three years, convicted of corruption and homosexuality (punishable by Malaysian law). His supporters believe that the judges were politically motivated to keep Anwar Ibrahim out of politics. Mahathir Mohamad says he intends to stay as prime minister for up to two years and then hand over the board to a successor. Anwar Ibrahim cannot immediately become prime minister as he must first be elected to parliament.

Najib Razak is not allowed to leave the country

May 13th

After rumors that Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor are planning to flee the country, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is beating the couple with a travel ban.

Mahathir Mohamad forms new government

May 12

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad begins to form a new government. He appoints ten ministers.

“Anwar Ibrahim to be pardoned”

May 11

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announces that King Sultan Muhammad V has agreed to pardon the imprisoned Anwar Ibrahim, the actual leader of the opposition.

Mahathir Mohamad again prime minister

May 10

Mahathir Mohamad is installed as new prime minister.

Government change after 60 years

May 9

The parliamentary elections lead to a historic shift in power when the National Front (BN) loses government power after 60 years. The victory goes to the opposition coalition Hope’s alliance with the 92-year-old former BN leader and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in the lead. The Hope Alliance receives 113 out of 222 mandates against 79 for BN. Prime Minister Razak Najib acknowledges the election loss and leaves the post as BN leader.


The electoral movement begins

April 28

The electoral movement starts and will last for eleven days.

Parliamentary elections will be held in May

April 10

Malaysia will hold general elections on May 9, the Election Commission announces. An electoral movement will last eleven days before Election Day.

Parliament is dissolved before the election

April 7

Prime Minister Najib Razak dissolves Parliament in the run-up to the general election.

Mahathir Mohamad’s party is deregistered

April 5

Authorities are deregistering former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s newly formed opposition party Bersatu for 30 days. The reason is that the party registration was not done correctly. Critics believe the deregistration is an attempt to prevent the opposition from winning in the upcoming election, but representatives of Bersatu say the party will stand in the election as part of the party alliance Hope’s Alliance.

Fake news becomes punishable

2 April

Parliament adopts a law that prohibits so-called fake news. Anyone who spreads fake news can be sentenced to up to six years in prison. Critics say the law is in place to silence government-critical media and opposition voices ahead of the general election that is soon to be announced. The law applies to both domestic and foreign media.


Criticism when redrawing electoral districts

March 28

Parliament is voting to redraw the map for the country’s constituency. The decision receives sharp criticism from both the opposition and election observers as general elections are to be held that year. Critics believe that the new electoral district benefits the ruling National Front and is an attempt by the government to increase the chances of retaining power despite harsh criticism in connection with the 1MDB scandal. The decision will lead to demonstrations outside the Kuala Lumpur parliament building.

Pacific free trade agreement clear

March 8th

Malaysia, together with ten other countries, signs the Free Trade Agreement (CPTPP) (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Parthership). The agreement is also called TPP-11 and is a slightly revised version of TPP. The changes are a result of the US withdrawing from the TPP before it came into force. The CPTPP is presented as a counter to the anti-free-trade policy pursued by US President Donald Trump.

USA: “Kim Jong-Nam was murdered with nerve poison VX”

6 March

According to the US, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s half-brother Kim Jong-Nam was murdered with the banned nerve poison VX at the Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017. The United States says the North Korean regime is behind the murder and condemns Pyongyang for using a chemical weapon inside at an international airport. An Indonesian and a Vietnamese are facing trial in Malaysia for the murder which is believed to have been arranged by the North Korean Security Service. The women killed the man by spraying him in the face with a liquid. The women say they received the information that it was a so-called practical joke. Kim Jong-Nam lived in exile in China and was seen as a potential challenger to Kim Jong-Un’s power holdings.


Artist is imprisoned for caricature by the Prime Minister

February 20th

Malaysian artist Fahmi Reza is sentenced to one month in prison and 30,000 ringgit (about $ 7,700) in fines for having made a caricature drawing of Prime Minister Najib Razak dressed as a clown. The drawing was spread via social media in connection with protests against the head of government for how he handled the 1MDB scandal (see Current Policy). Fahmi Reza was arrested in 2016.

Opposition politicians are sentenced to prison

February 7

Rafizi Ramli, Member of Parliament and Deputy Chairman of the Opposition People’s Justice Party, is sentenced to 30 months imprisonment for leaking confidential banking information on a company suspected of corruption in 2012. The punishment means that Ramli must not run for office in the parliamentary elections to be held in 2018. This is the second time Ramli has been convicted of similar crimes. In November 2016, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for leaking secretly stamped documents linked to the scandalized state fund 1MDB.


Mahathir Mohamad is running for prime minister

7 th of January

Former Umnolah leader Mahathir Mohamad, 92, is running for prime ministerial candidate for the opposition quad party coalition Hope Alliance, which includes the People’s Justice Party. Mahathir Mohamad’s own party, formed in 2016, is also part of Hope’s alliance and his goal is to oust current Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has been suspected of involvement in the corruption scandal surrounding the state fund 1MDB. The People’s Justice Party is led by Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, wife of incarcerated opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Mahathir Mohamad has agreed that Anwar Ibrahim will become prime ministerial candidate if he is pardoned by the Sultan following his release in June 2018. Otherwise, Anwar Ibrahim is prevented from working politically for five years after the release. Anwar Ibrahim is convicted of homosexuality which is illegal in Malaysia.

Malaysia Energy and Environment Facts

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