Overseas Malaysian
Malay kacukan
Total population
 United Kingdom84,638[1]
 United States77,647[3][1]
 New Zealand17,464[1]
Malay, Languages of Malaysia and various languages of the countries they inhabit
Religion in Malaysia

The Malaysian diaspora are Malaysian emigrants from Malaysia and their descendants that reside in a foreign country. Population estimates vary from seven hundred thousand to one million, both descendants of early emigrants from Malaysia, as well as more recent emigrants from Malaysia. The largest of these foreign communities are in Singapore, Australia, Brunei and the United Kingdom.

Emigration from Malaysia is a complex demographic phenomenon existing for decades and having a number of reasons, with institutional racism being one of the major factors. The process is the reverse of the immigration to Malaysia. Malaysia does not keep track of emigration, and counts of Malaysians abroad are thus only available courtesy of statistics kept by the destination countries. As of 2019, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the population of the Malaysian diaspora stands at 1,730,152.[1]

Reasons of emigration

Brain drain

Due to the concept of Ketuanan Melayu (lit. Malay supremacy), a citizen that is not considered to be of Bumiputera status face many roadblocks and discrimination in matters such as economic freedom, education, healthcare and housing.[14] Opposition groups, government critics and human rights observers has labeled the Malaysian situation as being highly similar to apartheid policies due to their status as de facto second-class citizens.[15] Such policies has also led to a significant brain drain from the country.[16]


Malaysians can only lose their citizenship in a very limited number of ways. Anyone born to at least one Malaysian parent is considered to be a Malaysian citizen. It is not automatic for a child born abroad to one Malaysian parent to obtain Malaysian citizenship if the Malaysian parent has been living abroad for a long time.[citation needed]

Malaysians residing overseas who have not registered as a Normal Elector before or who wish to be registered as an Absent Voter to participate in any Malaysian election may register with the respective consulate generals, embassies or high commissioners.[17][18] As of 2013, only 8,756 Malaysians (1%) out of over 700,000 Malaysians living abroad have registered as postal voters. 6,092 of the 8,756 registered citizens overseas or 69.82% had cast their votes at 100 Malaysian missions worldwide for the Malaysian general election, 2013.[19]

Population by continent

The list below is of the countries with significant Malaysian populations. Those shown first with exact counts are enumerations of Malaysians who have immigrated to those countries and are legally resident there, does not include those who were born there to one or two Malaysian parents, does not necessarily include those born in Malaysia to parents temporarily in Malaysia and moved with parents by right of citizenship rather than immigration, and does not necessarily include temporary expatriates.

Population of the Malaysia diaspora in 2019
Continent / Country Articles Overseas Malaysian Population
Africa 13,726
 Libya 8,404[1]
Asia 1,278,839
 Singapore Malaysians in Singapore 952,261[1]
 Brunei 52,001[1][5]
 China 26248[1]
 Hong Kong 19,787[1]
 India Malaysians in India 12,228[20][1]
 Taiwan 22,000[21]
 Japan 10,561[8][9]
 Indonesia 2,363[1]
 Thailand 1,369[1]
 Philippines 817[1]
Other Asian Countries 5,782[1]
Oceania 191,784
 Australia Malaysian Australian 174,136[1][22]
 New Zealand Malaysian New Zealander 17,464[1][23]
Europe 142,348
 United Kingdom Malaysians in the United Kingdom 84,638[1]
Other European Countries 28,855[1]
Americas 103,455
 United States Malaysian American 77,647[1]
 Canada Malaysian Canadian 25,337[1][24]
Other America Countries 527[1]

Many Malaysians have relatives in Brunei, similar to Singapore, especially amongst ethnic Malays of Bruneian Malay origin residing in southern Sabah, Federal Territory of Labuan as well as northern Sarawak. There are approximately 9% Malaysian diaspora in Brunei, mostly expatriates working in the petroleum industry (Brunei Shell Petroleum oil company). Malaysians in India consist of expatriates and international students from Malaysia as well as Indian people of Malaysian descent and most of them are ethnic Malaysians of Indian origin, working as well as studying in the home country of their ancestors. In 2011, an estimated 2,500 Malaysians, mostly working for Malaysian-based companies as well as 2,000 students, reside in India, mainly in South India.[20]

The overseas Malaysian diaspora in Singapore is one of the largest with the number standing at 952,261 in 2019, making them the world's largest Malaysian diaspora community. Many Malaysians in Singapore are usually expatriates, working in various industries of the Singapore economy since its rapid industrialisation in the 1970s.[25] In 2010, according to the World Bank, there are 385,979 Singapore residents of Malaysian origin, including permanent residents and Singaporeans.[26]

At the 2016 Census 138,364 Australian residents stated that they were born in Malaysia.[27] As of 2006 census, there is around 14,547 Malaysian-born people lived in New Zealand.

The Malaysian community in the UK is one of the west's largest, this is mainly due to the influence of the British Empire on Malaysia. The 2001 UK Census recorded 49,886 Malaysian-born people, with September 2009 Office for National Statistics estimates putting the figure at around 63,000.

According to answers provided to an open-ended question included in the 2010 United States Census, 26,179 people said that their ancestry or ethnic origin was Malaysian. The Canada 2006 Census recorded 12 165 people self-identifying as Malaysian Canadian, but only 1 820 of these self-identified as exclusively Malaysian Canadian.[24]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af "International migrant stock 2019". United Nations. Retrieved 25 June 2020. Figures includes Malaysians in UN member nations
  2. ^ "GE14: 500,000 Malaysian voters in Singapore to generate friction". The Malaysian Insider. 11 September 2013. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  3. ^ "Total ancestry categories tallied for people with one or more ancestry categories reported 2010 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 18 January 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2012.
  4. ^ "Leveraging on Malaysian diaspora". The Star. 16 March 2012. Archived from the original on 6 October 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
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  8. ^ a b Statistical table of foreign resident statistics (formerly registered foreign national statistics)
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  10. ^ "Imigrantes internacionais registrados no Brasil". www.nepo.unicamp.br. Retrieved 20 August 2021.
  11. ^ "Putting the Malaysian diaspora into perspective". Stanford University. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  12. ^ a b c "The Heat Online - A different Malaysian perspective". Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  13. ^ "Lack of meritocracy among top reasons why Malaysians emigrate". www.dailyexpress.com.my. 21 February 2023. Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  14. ^ Chew, Amy. "Malaysia's dangerous racial and religious trajectory". Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  15. ^ Jonathan Kent (11 March 2006). "Malaysia 'apartheid' row deepens". BBC. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
  16. ^ "Social injustice main cause of country's brain drain". Malaysian Insider. 28 April 2011. Archived from the original on 1 May 2011. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  17. ^ "High Commission of Malaysia". Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  18. ^ "Malaysia Votes » Exercising your right to vote as a student abroad". Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  19. ^ "Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia - GE13: Collect your unused ballots, EC tells overseas voters - Home". Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  20. ^ a b "MALAYSIANS IN INDIA TOLD TO REGISTER AT HIGH COMMISSION", Yahoo Malaysia News, 4 June 2011.
  21. ^ "2021.10Foreign Residents by Nationality". NATIONAL IMMIGRATION AGENCY, REPUBLIC OF CHINA (TAIWAN). 13 December 2021. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  22. ^ "2016 Census Community Profiles: Australia".
  23. ^ "Table 8: New Zealand resident population born in Asia, 1986-2006" (PDF). Asia New Zealand Foundation. p. 12/14. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 February 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  24. ^ a b "Ethnic Origin (247), Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses (3) and Sex (3) for the Population of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2006 Census - 20% Sample Data". Canada 2006 Census. 7 April 2011. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
  25. ^ Takashi, S. (2009). Across the Causeway: A Multi-dimensional Study of Malaysia-Singapore Relations. p. 125. ISBN 978-9-812-30783-5.
  26. ^ "Malaysia Economic Monitor, The Brain Drain" (PDF). World Bank. April 2011. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  27. ^ "2016 Census Community Profiles: Australia".