About Malaysia

Malaysia is a South-East Asian country. Peninsular Malaysia lies south of Thailand. The states of Sabah and Sarawak are located across the South China Sea and form part of the island of Borneo. They border the small country of Brunei and the Indonesian part of the island, Kalimantan. Malaysia’s environment features mountains, mangrove swamps, low plains and sandy beaches. More than 60% is covered by rainforest.

Find out more about Malaysia




Bahasa Melayu (Malay) Cantonese English Mandarin Tamil

The national language is Bahasa Melayu (Malay), but English is widely spoken. Most Malaysians are multilingual.


32.37m (2022)


330,000 square kilometres

High Commissioner

His Excellency Zakri Jaafar


Kuala Lumpur

Joined Commonwealth

1957, following the Federation of Malaya’s independence from Britain

Episode guests

Bernice Chauly

Bernice Chauly

Award-winning poet, novelist, educator, and author

Bernice Chauly is an award-winning Malaysian poet, novelist, educator, and former festival director. She is the author of seven books of poetry and prose, taught creative writing and for 15 years, and directed the George Town Literary Festival, which won the London Book Fair International Excellence Awards in 2018. She has worked extensively in the creative industries for 30 years and is currently writing the AAA open-world video game, Contraband. Originally from Kuala Lumpur, she now lives and works in Stockholm.


by Bernice Chauly

From Onkalo (Math Paper Press, 2013)

I repeat the names of common Malayan butterflies
from the book that used to be on the long white shelf
in our house in Taiping, where my memories begin

I fear I will never recover
I know this kind of love begins and ends with flowers
not words, not alcohol, not tears
not even sadness

I am tired of the earth
I remember catching butterfies – they lived
for a while in tall glass bottles and once, a green Milo tin
slowly their wings faded and turned
into mellow dust, collecting mites
like unwelcome strangers
into a dark world

I remember the orange and brown bedcover
prikly to the touch, my green pinafore and sunflower curtains
Ah Kong standing in his white shorts
wonder where you are –
it has been forty years, since you left me
a child crying by the shattering sea –
I fear I have never recovered

I think I have outstayed my time
unlike you, there is no more mourning
there is no more darkening of the sky, of the
liver, throat and spleen, of in-between coloured boats
that ferry nightly metaphors to sweet darling madness

the birds and crcadas are asleep
the floods are gone
but the butterflies –
they still lie
awake, in
the garden.

A Hymn to My Sarong

by Salleh Ben Joned

From Poems Sacred and Profane

In the easy sensuality
of your canopy;
I sit here in the fading light,
airing my shame and pride,
marvellous golden mangoes
of the sun, dangling loose
in the tingling caress
of the breeze:
my feet to the horizon,
my rump on the earth’s.

Intimate of my bloody rites
of passage:
reassuringly protective,
comically familiar,
in you I feel continuity;
cloistering and free,
sacred and profane,
in you I taste infinity,
utterly sexual
and beyond sex.

Like the acts that sealed
the passionate concord,
between you and I:
gushing fountains
of solitary delight
drenching the diaphanous sky,
secret rituals of kind
in the oasis of striped tents
in the blazing heat
of the desert
of pubescent lust,
and a mirage of virgin’s eyes,
the sun raining down
in punishing rays
riding high on the timeless tiger
across the noon landscape
of the now,
your silky halter
round the necks,
rubbing against the jugular;
two stringy bodies
looped together
coming together
in the stretched noose
of ecstasy;
invisible chords
the concu-
of one-