February 1, 2011

Federal Territory Day – Malaysia

A couple of days ago, on January 29, the annual Federal Territory Day parade was held in Kuala Lumpur. Hopefully residents and tourists also got to enjoy a huge fireworks display, as in other years. This year Chinese New Year comes unusually early, on February 3, so the celebration of this national holiday got pushed back into January.

But today is the actual Federal Territory Day.

Kuala Lumpur used to be the state capital of Selangor, a state in Malaysia. In 1948, this city became the national capital as well. Politics and racial unrest in the 1960s showed the difficulties of one city being so important to one state as well as to the whole nation—and so the Malaysian government decided to separate Kuala Lumpur from the state and place it under direct federal rule.

On this date in 1974, this step was finally taken. Kuala Lumpur became Malaysia's first federal territory. When the Sultan of Selangor signed the cession agreement that would effectively remove the capital city from his state, he cried for the loss.

Washington, D.C., in the United States, is in a similar position as Kuala Lumpur, because it is not a part of one of the fifty states.

Learn about Malaysia

  • There are now 13 states and 3 federal territories in Malaysia.

  • Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia. Part of the country (West Malaysia) is on a peninsula that juts out from the continent of Asia, and part of it (East Malaysia) is on the island of Borneo. 

  • Although the official language of Malaysia is Bahasa Malaysia, also known as Malay, English is used for some purposes. You might guess that this is because the British Empire once colonized Malaysia—and you'd be right.

Check out...

The Malaysia Kitchen website has a map, a short and informative description of the country, and links to Malaysian restaurants—I found one near me!

Both this longish video and this much shorter video gives you an overview of some of the natural and architectural wonders of the nation, along with a taste of the wide range of cultures. Compare the two videos. For what purpose was each video made? Which has the more beautiful and colorful photography? Which has the more balanced view of Malaysia?

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