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Malaysia Map OTI

Supporting Malaysian aspirations for a more democratic society.


The May 2018 Malaysian national election sparked a wave of optimism because it demonstrated a rebuke of the patterns of governance from the previous 60 years—and a rejection of broader regional trends towards authoritarianism. Though the transition of power has been peaceful, ongoing support is needed to ensure the will of the people persists. Malaysia is a significant regional and global partner to the United States, and the two countries share a diverse and expanding partnership in trade, investment, security, and cultural relations. There is also a long history of people-to-people exchanges and robust economic ties. The U.S. Government is deeply committed to supporting the political reforms taking place in the country, and continues to work with Malaysian counterparts to strengthen the country’s leadership role in the region.


USAID/OTI partners with the Government of Malaysia, civil society, and other interested stakeholders to support Malaysians’ aspirations for a more democratic society. The program’s objectives are to:

  • Empower reformers within the Malaysian government to advance institutional, democratic change; and

  • Increase public engagement on issues of transparency, accountability, and freedom of expression.


  • USAID/OTI invested RM3.6 million (roughly US$867,000) in Malaysian government and non-government organizations (NGOs) that work to combat corruption. The Malaysia Anti Corruption Commission, the press, and other civic groups use these resources to close loopholes benefiting corrupt corporate executives, report on corrupt practices to the public, strengthen protections for whistleblowers, and increase transparency on government budgeting and procurement.

  • USAID/OTI partnered with local NGO Undi18 to organize a virtual parliamentary sitting to propose recommendations that address the economic and health crisis in Malaysia. Two-hundred and twenty-two youth representatives debated at the event, showcasing the feasibility of a virtual parliamentary democracy during a pandemic.

  • USAID/OTI increased the ability of local actors to effectively advocate for reform. By engaging the arts, youth, and media, the program increased the number of voices calling for reform and strengthened advocacy platforms, deepening these organizations’ outreach efforts. In partnership with a wide range of civil society organizations, the program organized workshops on advocacy strategy, facilitated roundtable discussions on freedom of expression in universities, and supported digital art campaigns highlighting the value of open political discourse.

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Last updated: June 29, 2021

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