Malaysia is second only to Singapore, the country in Southeast Asia where wealth is highest. Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of MYS and acronym for Malaysia. At the end of the 1990s, almost 4 percent of the residents were poor. But wealth is unevenly distributed. By tradition, Chinese and Indians have had assets, opportunities and influence, while the original, indigenous population, bumiputra, which made up the majority, has been underprivileged. In all development plans since 1970, the aim has been to reduce ethnic, socio-economic and regional differences and bring bumiputra through quotas to, among other things, education and government services. But differences remain and the bumiputra policy is also controversial.
Of the workforce, 12 percent are union members (2010). Strict right exists but with limitations. Unemployment insurance is missing and only one severance pay is paid in the case of closure. Unemployment has been low for decades (just over 4 percent in 2009) and the shortage of manpower has led to the move of several million guest workers, mainly from Indonesia. Most of them are low-skilled and work on oil palm plantations or in factories. For them, social insurance does not apply and, in practice, does not apply to 48 hours work week and minimum wage.
For Malaysian citizens, there are different social insurance systems. The oldest is the one that provides compensation for work injuries and disability. For some years now, compensatory insurance has been provided for foreign workers. The retirement age is 58 years for government employees and 55 years for other employees. The general pension fund refers to private employees and is based on monthly payments from workers and employers. Membership is mandatory for all low-income employees and voluntary for others. Since 2010, there is also an insurance system for farmers and other self-employed persons. The more than half a million civil servants receive their monthly pensions paid by the state.
Healthcare in Malaysia is considered to be of a high international class, comparable to countries in Western Europe, and both state and private healthcare are well spread across the country. In 2006, there were 1.9 beds per 1,000 residents. Especially private hospitals in large cities are modernly equipped and more and more patients from richer countries are looking for specialist care at low cost. The proportion of HIV-infected persons aged 15-49 was 0.5 percent in 2007.
In terms of clean water and sanitation, the supply is as good as in Western Europe. Everyone has access to clean water and for 95 percent of the population there are well-developed sanitation facilities, even in rural areas.