Malaysia–United Kingdom relations

Jump to navigation Jump to search

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 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 MohamadUnited KingdomMalaysia


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.[3] A statue of Light still stands in the city's Fort Cornwallis.

English traders had been present in Malay waters since the 17th century.[4] Before the mid 19th century, British interests in the region were predominantly economic, with little interest in territorial control.[5] 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.[6][7] This was followed soon after by the leasing of a block of territory on the mainland opposite Penang (known as Province Wellesley).[8] 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.[9][10]

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.[6][11][12] 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,[13][14] while North Borneo was founded by the North Borneo Chartered Company.[15][16] Both Sarawak and North Borneo subsequently became a British Protectorate,[17] and a Crown colony in 1946.[18][19] 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.[20][21] However, in less than two years upon the founding of the federation, Singapore was expelled as a consequence of the 1964 race riots.[22][23]


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.[24] 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.[25] The next Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak paid a state visit to the United Kingdom in November 1993.[25] Queen Elizabeth II paid state visits to Malaysia in October 1989 and September 1998.[26] 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 13–16 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.[27] 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.[28]

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.[29]

Malaysia is the UK’s second-largest trading partner in ASEAN. [30]

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.[31] 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.[31] The Malaysian side also announced its ready to work with the United Kingdom.[32] 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.[33] 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.[34][35][36]

In 1996, the two countries signed a double taxation agreement. [37]

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.[38][39][40]

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.[41][42]



  1. ^ "Official Website of High Commission of Malaysia, London". Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  2. ^ "British High Commission Kuala Lumpur". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  3. ^ Lewis, Su Lin (2016). Cities in Motion: Urban Life and Cosmopolitanism in Southeast Asia, 1920–1940. United Kingdom: Cambridge University. ISBN 9781107108332.
  4. ^ Shiv Shanker Tiwary (2008). Encyclopaedia of Southeast Asian dynasties. Anmol Publications.
  5. ^ Barbara Ingham; Colin Simmons (28 June 2005). Development Studies and Colonial Policy. Routledge. pp. 228–. ISBN 978-1-135-77995-5.
  6. ^ a b Nordin Hussin (2007). Trade and Society in the Straits of Melaka: Dutch Melaka and English Penang, 1780-1830. NIAS Press. pp. 71–. ISBN 978-87-91114-88-5.
  7. ^ Drake Peter Joseph (7 July 2017). Merchants, Bankers, Governors: British Enterprise In Singapore And Malaya, 1786-1920. #N/A. pp. 21–. ISBN 978-981-322-243-4.
  8. ^ Derek Mackay (24 March 2005). Eastern Customs: The Customs Service in British Malaya and the Hunt for Opium. I.B.Tauris. pp. 7–. ISBN 978-0-85771-230-1.
  9. ^ Dennis De Witt (2008). History of the Dutch in Malaysia: In Commemoration of Malaysia's 50 Years as an Independent Nation and Over Four Centuries of Friendship and Diplomatic Ties Between Malaysia and the Netherlands. Nutmeg Publishing. pp. 13–. ISBN 978-983-43519-0-8.
  10. ^ Gareth Knapman (14 October 2016). Race and British Colonialism in Southeast Asia, 1770-1870: John Crawfurd and the Politics of Equality. Taylor & Francis. pp. 128–. ISBN 978-1-315-45216-6.
  11. ^ "Signing of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty (Treaty of London) of 1824". National Library Board. 17 March 1824. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  12. ^ "Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 – Malaysia and Indonesia". Muslim Museum Initiative. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  13. ^ Bob Reece (2004). The White Rajahs of Sarawak: A Borneo Dynasty. Archipelago Press. ISBN 978-981-4155-11-3.
  14. ^ Steven Runciman (2010). The White Rajah: A History of Sarawak from 1841 to 1946. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1–. ISBN 978-0-521-12899-5.
  15. ^ Leigh R. Wright (1 July 1988). The Origins of British Borneo. Hong Kong University Press. pp. 182–. ISBN 978-962-209-213-6.
  16. ^ James Stuart Olson; Robert Shadle (1996). Historical Dictionary of the British Empire. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 192–. ISBN 978-0-313-29366-5.
  17. ^ A. F. Madden; David Kenneth Fieldhouse; John Darwin (1985). Select Documents on the Constitutional History of the British Empire and Commonwealth: "The Empire of the Bretaignes," 1175-1688. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 556–. ISBN 978-0-313-23897-0.
  18. ^ Paul H. Kratoska (2001). South East Asia, Colonial History: High imperialism (1890s-1930s). Taylor & Francis. pp. 269–. ISBN 978-0-415-21542-8.
  19. ^ A. Kirk-Greene (24 February 2000). Britain's Imperial Administrators, 1858-1966. Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 64–. ISBN 978-0-230-28632-0.
  20. ^ "Formation of Malaysia 16 September 1963". National Archives of Malaysia. 16 September 1963. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  21. ^ Cheah Boon Kheng (2002). Malaysia: The Making of a Nation. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 93–. ISBN 978-981-230-175-8.
  22. ^ "Singapore separates from Malaysia and becomes independent". National Library Board. 9 August 1965. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  23. ^ Julian C. H. Lee (2010). Islamization and Activism in Malaysia. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 40–. ISBN 978-981-4279-02-4.
  24. ^ Meredith L. Weiss (17 October 2014). Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Malaysia. Routledge. pp. 437–. ISBN 978-1-317-62959-7.
  25. ^ a b "Ceremonies: State visits". British Monarchy. Archived from the original on 6 November 2008. Retrieved 26 November 2008.
  26. ^ "Outward state visits made by the Queen since 1952". British Monarchy. Archived from the original on 21 October 2008. Retrieved 26 November 2008.
  27. ^ "Prince William and Kate Middleton arrive for three-day visit". The Star. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  28. ^ "Prince Charles, Camilla arrive on official visit to Malaysia". Bernama. New Straits Times. 2 November 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  29. ^ "International Directory [Malaysia]". Export Britain, British Chambers of Commerce. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  30. ^
  31. ^ a b "UK, Malaysia to further enhance bilateral ties post Brexit". Bernama. The Star. 5 April 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  32. ^ Mah Siew Keong (9 November 2017). "Post-Brexit, Malaysia stands ready to work with the UK". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 December 2017. (subscription required)
  33. ^ "The UK has more than doubled export funds to £5 billion to support UK-Malaysia trade". New Straits Times. 25 September 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  34. ^ "UK Mega Technology Mission 2017 [Malaysia]". Department for International Trade. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  35. ^ "UK Mega Tech Mission eyes collaborative deals in Malaysia". Bernama. The Sun. 4 October 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  36. ^ Anushia Kandasivam (12 October 2017). "UK trade mission leverages on Malaysia's tech future". Digital News Asia. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  37. ^
  38. ^ "English Language Teacher Development Project (ELTDP)". British Council. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  39. ^ "Ground breaking mentoring project in East Malaysia". British Council. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  40. ^ "What is it like to be a mentor?". British Council. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  41. ^ Gabriel Tan. "Five Power Defence Arrangements". National Library Board. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  42. ^ Prashanth Parameswaran (12 October 2017). "Five Power Defense Arrangements in the Spotlight with Military Exercise". The Diplomat. Retrieved 13 December 2017. (subscription required)