Or did you?
Of late, our country has been bogged down by the poor economic climate and an influx of political dramas.
Sometimes, it does feel like we’re at our wit’s end and that it’s becoming increasingly hard to love our country. Like everyone else, we’ve taken for granted the good, because we’ve been focusing too much on the bad. That having said, there’s no better time than now for us to take a step back and look at some quirks about Malaysia that may or may not surprise you. We’re hoping that you’d be surprised, of course.
Perhaps getting to know Malaysia a little bit better will in turn help you love her better 😉
1. The Malaysian flag was the result of a design competition
The Malaysian flag was actually designed by Mohamed Hamzah, a 29-year old Public Works Department (JKR) architect in Johor Baru. He entered the Malayan flag design competition in 1947 with 2 designs which he completed within 2 weeks. The competition attracted 373 entries and voting was made by the general public via post. It wasn’t until 1997 that then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohammad named the Malaysian flag, “Jalur Gemilang”.
2. More than 60 sub-ethnic groups in East Malaysia
Believe it or not, there are more than 60 sub-ethnic groups in Sabah and Sarawak. Sarawak alone has more than 40 sub-ethnic groups, each with its own distinct language, culture, and lifestyle. There are the Melanaus, Dayaks, Ibans, Bidayuhs, and Orang Ulus. The people of Sabah are divided into 32 officially-recognised ethnic groups, in which 28 are recognised as Bumiputra, or indigenous people. The largest indigenous ethnic group is Kadazan-Dusun, followed by Bajau, and Murut.
3. The only place on Earth where war against communism was won
Malaya was the only place in the world where the war against communism was won. This period was known as the Malayan emergency, a Malayan guerrilla war fought between Commonwealth armed forces and the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA), the military arm of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), from 1948 – 1960. The 12-year guerrilla warfare conducted by communist forces (read: Chin Peng) was finally putdown in 1960.
4. Guinness World Records’ largest hotel title holder
Malaysia is also home to the world’s largest hotel! Genting Highland’s First World Hotel won the Guinness World Records title between 2006 and 2013 when it had 6,118 rooms. Just a couple of weeks ago, it was announced that the hotel earned the recognition once again. First World Hotel now consists of 7,351 rooms altogether because an extension to First World Hotel’s Tower 2 was recently built. Opened in June 2015, Tower 2 Annex is a new tower block consisting of 1,286 brand new rooms that are stylishly named as “XYZ Deluxe” and “XYZ Triple”. Our review here.
5. Elephant crossing signs along the East-West Highway
It’s true though! If you ever travel along the East-West Highway, keep a look out for elephant crossing signs. The East-West Highway is one of the more scenic routes in Peninsular Malaysia, due to its hilly nature. The highway passes through 2 major mountain ranges, namely the Bintang Range and the Titiwangsa Range. The road signs are put up to warn motorists of elephants crossing the road as there is no dedicated grade-separated animal crossing provided. A YouTube user has even caught the elephants in action on camera so it’s pretty legit 😉
6. Your MyKad can be used as a Touch ‘n Go card
The Malaysian identification card (MyKad) is perhaps the most powerful card a Malaysian could hold. In fact, Malaysia became the first country in the world to use an identification card that incorporates both photo identification and fingerprint biometric data on an in-built computer chip embedded in a piece of plastic. The MyKad may also serve as a valid driver’s license, an ATM card, an electronic purse, and a public key, among other applications, if the bearer chooses to activate the functions. You can even use it as a Touch ‘n Go card! We wouldn’t go as far as recommending it for daily use lest you misplace it or lose it altogether. It’s good to have it loaded with some credit for emergency purposes though.
7. The mother of all rainforests is located in Malaysia
Malaysia’s Taman Negara (aka National Park) has a reputation of being the oldest rainforest on Earth. At more than 130,000 million years old, it is older than the tropical rainforests of the Amazon and the Congo Basins. It’s home to more than 10,000 species of plants, 1,000 types of butterflies, 140 types of animals, 350 bird species, and 150,000 kinds of insects. Every year, Taman Negara attracts thousands of local and international travelers because it is the perfect place for travelers who love wild life viewing, jungle trekking, hiking, rock climbing, fishing, and camping. Have you been? Book a tour package from as low as RM350 via their official website.
8. Not 1, not 2, but 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
What? You didn’t think that Georgetown and Malacca were the only UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Malaysia, did you? Malaysia has 5 locations that have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites and they are Georgetown, Gunung Mulu National Park, Kinabalu Park, Lenggong Valley, and Malacca City. Getting on the list is no easy feat, mind you. Only countries that have signed the World Heritage Convention, pledging to protect their natural and cultural heritage, can submit nomination proposals for properties on their territory to be considered for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
9. A chamber of cave networks and wonders
Sarawak Chamber is the largest known cave chamber in the world by area and the second largest by volume after the Miao Room in China. It is in Gua Nasib Bagus (Good Luck Cave), which is located in Gunung Mulu National Park, in East Malaysia. It’s also home to some of the most interesting cave formations in the world, including Clearwater Cave and Deer Cave. It is often claimed that the corridor of Deer Cave, a 1-mile-/1.6km-long passage of the caves, could house 5 rows of 8 Boeing 747 jetliners parked nose to tail.
10. Malaysia’s very own Loch Ness monster
According to the Jakun Orang Asli, Malaysia has its own Loch Ness Monster at Tasik Chini. The Seri Gumum Dragon (Naga Seri Gumum in Bahasa Malaysia) is believed to live in the waters of the Tasik Chini, a formation of 12 lakes in Pahang, Malaysia. But alas, like other lake monsters, the Seri Gumum Dragon is only a legend, and there is no solid evidence of its being. No scientific study shows the lake monster to be real. Tasik Chini is also the second largest fresh water lake in Malaysia and according to historians, it might have been the site of an ancient Khmer city.
Not enough to convince you? Here are some other interesting fun facts about Malaysia:
- Sabah has the world’s longest zip line. A zip line is basically the bigger-scale version of the flying fox that enables users to traverse from the top to the bottom of a cable attached to a moving pulley. At 250 metres long, it links Pulau Gaya and Pulau Sapim, allowing users to sail from one island to another in about 30 – 40 seconds at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.
- Johor has the world’s first and largest Sanrio Hello Kitty Town outside of Japan. It consists of various interactive and walk-through activities, which follow the immensely popular Hello Kitty theme. The attraction also boasts the biggest official licensed Hello Kitty merchandise store in Malaysia and offers a variety of delicious themed food and beverage outlets.
Got any amazing or little known fun facts about Malaysia that you’d like to share with us? Leave us a comment in the box below 🙂
Sources: randomhistory.com, Malayan Emergency Wiki, East-West Highway (Malaysia) Wiki, UNESCO, The Establishment Post, Seri Gumum Dragon Wiki, The Star Online, grabhouse, Flag of Malaysia Wiki, MyKad Wiki.