Head of state: King Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin
Head of government: Najib Tun Razak
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 27.9 million
Life expectancy: 74.7 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 12/10 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 92.1 per cent
The government restricted freedom of expression in electronic and print media. Detention without charge or trial continued as the Internal Security Act (ISA) entered its 50th year. Refugees, migrants and Malaysian nationals were subjected to judicial caning for criminal offences, including immigration violations. Under Shari'a law, three women were caned for the first time. Malaysia was elected to the UN Human Rights Council in May.
Najib Tun Razak served his second year as Prime Minister after ousting Abdullah Badawi. He had until March 2013 to call parliamentary elections. The trial of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on politically motivated criminal charges of sodomy for the second time in 12 years continued. If convicted, Anwar Ibrahim faced imprisonment and a ban from political office for five years. In announcing a new multi-year economic policy in March, Najib Tun Razak called for the reform of Malaysia's positive discrimination policy which favours Bumiputeras (a legal status which comprises ethnic Malays and Indigenous people in eastern Malaysia).
Freedom of expression
The authorities restricted freedom of expression by requiring government licences for publications and imposing criminal penalties under the Sedition Act on those speaking out against the government.