Last official update: December 25, 2020

Human Rights


Quality of Life rights (or ‘economic and social rights’) include the rights to food, health, education, housing, and work. Malaysia scores 84.5% on Quality of Life when scored against the ‘Income adjusted’ benchmark. This score takes into account Malaysia’s resources and how well it is using them to make sure its people’s Quality of Life rights are fulfilled.

This score tells us that Malaysia is only doing 84.5% of what should be possible right now with the resources it has. Since anything less than 100% indicates that a country is not meeting its current duty under international human rights law, our assessment is that Malaysia has some way to go to meet its immediate economic and social rights duty.

Source: 2017 – Human Rights Measurement Initiative



4Systematic violations of rights

Ranking countries on the degree of respect for workers’ rights.

Source: 2019 – International Trade Union Confederation



42 /167 – Country Rank

The Prevalence Index Rank ranks countries on the relative prevalance of modern slavery. A higher rank indicates a higher prevalence.

Source: 2018 – Global Slavery Index

The Vulnerability to Modern Slavery (lower is better)

Source: 2018 – Global Slavery Index

Conflict & Security


3/5Violent crisis

The Conflict Barometer ranks intra-, inter-, trans- and substate conflicts worldwide based on intesity, including violent as well as non-violent conflicts. The violent conflicts are differentiated between violent crises, limited wars or wars.

Source: 2019 – Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research

Conflict & Security


High state of peace
20 /163 – Country Rank

The Global Peace Index (GPI) measures more than just the presence or absence of war. It captures the absence of violence or the fear of violence across three domains: Safety and Security, Ongoing Conflict, and Militarisation.

Source: 2020 – The Institute for Economics & Peace

Human Rights

Freedom House

52 /100
Partly Free – Status

Freedom House rates people’s access to political rights and civil liberties.

Source: 2020 – Freedom House

Human Rights


57.6 /120 – Score
120 /178 – Country Rank

The Human Rights and Rule of Law Indicator by the FSI considers the relationship between the state and its population insofar as fundamental human rights are protected and freedoms are observed and respected.

Source: 2020 – Fragile State Index



Control of corruption captures perceptions of the extent to which public power is exercised for private gain, including both petty and grand forms of corruption, as well as “capture” of the state by elites and private interests.

Source: 2019 – The WorldBank's Worldwide Governance Indicator

Regulatory quality captures perceptions of the ability of the government to formulate and implement sound policies and regulations that permit and promote private sector development.

Source: 2019 – The WorldBank's Worldwide Governance Indicator

Rule of law captures perceptions of the extent to which agents have confidence in and abide by the rules of society, and in particular the quality of contract enforcement, property rights, the police, and the courts, as well as the likelihood of crime and violence.

Source: – The WorldBank's Worldwide Governance Indicator


Transparency International

53 /100 – Score
51 /198 – Country Rank

The Corruption Perceptions Index scores and ranks countries/territories based on how corrupt a country’s public sector is perceived to be by experts and business executives. It is a composite index, a combination of 13 surveys and assessments of corruption, collected by a variety of reputable institutions. The CPI is the most widely used indicator of corruption worldwide.

Source: 2019 – Transparency International

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Malaysia Sector Reports

Malaysia timber sector analysis (2020)

Go to sector analysis.

Areas of Interest

On the Corruption Perception Index, Malaysia scores 53 (0=highly corrupt, 100=very clean) which means the risk of corruption is medium in Malaysia. Closed-door negotiations foster corruption in public procurement and the policy of awarding large infrastructure projects and selected licenses to selected ethnic Malay/ indigenous peoples companies has encouraged corruption between public officials and companies (domestic as well as foreign).

Malaysia is placed on the Tier 2 watch list in the 2020 trafficking in persons report , which means that the country’s government does not fully meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but that they are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with these standards, and for which:
a) the estimated number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing and the country is not taking proportional concrete actions;
b) there is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year, including increased investigations, prosecution, and convictions of trafficking crimes, increased assistance to victims, and decreasing evidence of complicity in severe forms of trafficking by government officials.

There are reports of discrimination on various grounds, including gender, sexuality, religion and ethnicity. LGTBI people in Malaysia face discrimination both in law and in practice. Female migrant workers in Malaysia are compulsorily annually tested for possible pregnancy and, if pregnant, she is deported at her own expense. There is discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, whereby the law works in favour of ethnic Malay and indigenous peoples when it comes to government jobs and university opportunities, thereby disfavouring other Malay groups including Chinese and Indian minorities. At the same time, poverty is highest among the ethnic Malay and indigenous populations and they score lowest on health and education indicators.

The Freedom House Country List considers Malaysia to be “partly free”. This means the country has an oppressive regime regarding civil liberties. This includes arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, restrictions on freedom of movement and restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet, censorship, site blocking, and abuse of criminal libel laws.

The religious freedom of non-Muslims, non-Sunni Muslims and nonreligious people is restricted. Significant human rights issues reported in 2019 include problems with the independence of the judiciary, arbitrary detention, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, torture, violence against transgender persons and criminalization of consensual adult same-sex sexual activities. Human rights defenders are restricted in their work.

On the ITUC Global Rights Index (scale 1-5) for freedom of association and workers’ rights, Malaysia score a 4 which stands for systematic violations of labour rights. The government and/or companies are trying to diminish the collective voice of workers, thereby putting fundamental rights under continuous threat. This includes substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association.

There are reports of unlawful or arbitrary killings by the government or its agents.

Malaysia has been rated as secretive by the Tax Justice Network, with a score of 70 (0=not secretive, 100=exceptionally secretive) which means Malaysia could be seen as a “tax haven”.