Malaysia: country information

Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia. It consists of 13 states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two similarly sized regions, Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo. Peninsular Malaysia borders Thailand in the north and Singapore in the south, Vietnam in the northeast, and Indonesia in the west. Malaysian Borneo borders Brunei and Indonesia.

Kuala Lumpur is the nation’s capital and largest city.

With a population of over 30 million, Malaysia is the world’s 44th most populous country. The southernmost point of continental Eurasia, Tanjung Piai, is in Malaysia. In the tropics, Malaysia is one of 17 megadiverse countries, with large numbers of endemic species.

Malaysia has its origins in the Malay kingdoms which, from the 18th century, became subject to the British Empire when the Straits Settlements became British protectorates. Peninsular Malaysia was unified as the Malayan Union in 1946. Malaya was restructured as the Federation of Malaya in 1948, and achieved independence on 31 August 1957. Malaya united with North Borneo, Sarawak, and Singapore on 16 September 1963 to become Malaysia. In 1965, Singapore left the federation to become an independent country, reducing the number of states from 13 to 12.

The country is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, which plays a large role in its politics. About half the population is ethnically Malay, with large minorities of Malaysian Chinese (the second largest community of Overseas Chinese in the world), Malaysian Indians, and indigenous peoples.

The constitution grants freedom of religion but recognises Islam as the established religion of the state. The government system is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system and the legal system is based on common law. The head of state is the king, known as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. He is an elected monarch chosen from the hereditary rulers of the nine Malay states every five years. The head of government is the Prime Minister.

The country’s official language is Bahasa Melayu, commonly known as the Malay language. English remains an active second language. In 2017 English proficiency in Malaysia was ranked the 2nd best in Asia (after Singapore) and the 13th best in the world.

In 2018, the population of blind in Malaysia registered a little more than 40,000. Though English Braille was introduced in Malaysia during the 1950s, the number of blind people familiar with English Braille remains rather low, merely caused by the fact that the Ministry of Education promoted the Malay Language as a medium of instructions for primary schools through to institutions of higher learning. Realising the need for the English language for the business sector, the government is now reintroducing efforts in promoting the English language with also emphasis in the use of Bahasa Melayu.

In order to support the use of Bahasa Melayu among the blind, a grade 2 braille code was introduced around the 1980s. In 2001, a committee steered by the National Council for the Blind, Malaysia in collaboration with the Ministry of Special education reviewed the Malay Braille and published a new manual in 2004. In January of 2006, the Ministry of Special Education, Malaysia sent out a circular instructing all schools to adopt and use this new version.

In order to promote computerised production of Braille, the National Council for the Blind, Malaysia sought the assistance of Duxbury Systems Inc to incorporate the Malay Braille Code as one of the Braille tables. As of version 10.4 all Duxbury purchases include the Malay Braille table.

Though there are many organisations set up by sighted and blind persons to work on improving the lives of the blind, the National Council for the Blind, Malaysia has been the key connection with the World Blind Union (WBU). Malaysia has 4 representatives at the WBU, 2 of which are from the Society of the Blind in Malaysia and the other 2 representatives are from the National Council for the Blind, Malaysia (NCBM).

About the National Council for the Blind, Malaysia

Services of the National Council for the Blind, Malaysia (NCBM) and Its Member Organisations

Collectively we offer a wide range of services to blind and vision-impaired persons to assist them to regain confidence in order to participate fully in society. The services include counseling, rehabilitation, vocational training, job placement, community-based rehabilitation, advice on and sale of blindness-related equipment and low vision aids, etc. Some examples of these services are:

  • 1 Independent Living : Blind clients are given counseling to help them adjust to their vision loss and are given training on daily living skills. These include: Orientation and Mobility (techniques on the use of the White Cane), social skills and computer literacy (speech output computer and smart phone), etc.
  • 2. Vocational Training : Depending on their level of education and interest, clients are given training on Office Administration, ICT- related occupations, Massage and self-employment opportunities, etc.
  • 3. Sales and Advice on the Use of Equipment : Some of these items are low cost, while others are high-tech to assist the blind and vision-impaired persons to live normal and useful lives or use to support their employment.
  • 4. Braille and Audio Library Services : Fiction and non-fiction books in Braille and audio formats for reference and reading pleasure are available on loan from some of the Member Organisations. Braille and language classes are also conducted for the newly-blinded.
  • 5. Early Intervention Programmes : Under this service, blind and vision-impaired children are given help as soon as they are discovered or reported to us, and parents with such children are advised on ways of caring for them. Some Member Organisations run these programmes to train the children as young as four years old on Daily Living Skills to prepare them for early education.

For more information on our services and how they can cater to your specific needs, please get in touch with us by contacting the respective organizations:

National Council for the Blind, Malaysia (NCBM)

  • Unit 13-8, Menara Sentral Vista,
  • No.150, Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad,
  • Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur.
  • Tel: 03-20281999
  • Fax: 03-2276 1653
  • Email: info@ncbm.org.my
  • Contact Person: Admin
  • Website: ncbm.org.my

Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB)

  • Kompleks MAB, Jalan Tebing, off Jalan Tun Sambathan 4, 50470 Kuala Lumpur
  • Tel: 03-2272 2677
  • Fax: 03-2272 2676
  • Email: mablind@po.jaring.my
  • Contact Person: Welfare Officer

Society of the Blind in Malaysia

  • No. 24, Jalan Tun Sambanthan 3,
  • 50470, Kuala Lumpur
  • Malaysia.
  • Tel: 603 22746162
  • Fax: 603 22743818

St. Nicholas’ Home (SNH)

  • 4 Jalan Bagan Jermal,
  • 10250 Penang
  • Tel: 04-2290 800
  • Fax: 04-2278 590
  • Email: ed@snh.org.my
  • Contact Person: Low Vision Coordinator

Sabah Society for the Blind (SHSB)

  • 1st. Floor, Lot 3, Bangunan Sri Damai, Lorong Nibung, Jalan Kolam,
  • 88300 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
  • Tel: 088 218 130
  • Fax: 088 316 588
  • Email: sabahblindsociety@yahoo.com

Sarawak Society for the Blind

Last updated: 16 July 2018