Malaysia. According to Countryaah.com, Malaysia population in 2020 is estimated at 32,366,010. Two serious accidents hit Malaysia Airlines national airline during the year. The first occurred on March 8 when a passenger plane with 239 people on board disappeared during a flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. Of the 227 passengers, 152 were from China. A huge search effort, probably the most expensive in flight history, was initiated. Gradually the effort was directed towards the sea west of Australia. However, no debris or safe tracks, such as the planet’s tachograph, have been found.
July 17, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is shot down over eastern Ukraine, near the border of the Russian Federation. The plane – which had 298 on board, including 193 Dutch – was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
According to Dutch investigators, the plane was hit by several projectiles, and nothing indicated technical errors or human error. The accident investigation was complicated by the crash that occurred over the rebel-controlled area. The Russian Federation and Ukraine have blamed each other for shooting down the plane.
Malaysia held a national mourning day on August 22 when the remains of 20 of the 43 Malaysians who died in the MH17 crash were flown home.
The airline’s future seemed bleak. The accidents burdened the airline’s already poor economy. In August, the company initiated a restructuring in which 6,000 employees would be removed, approximately one-third of the staff.
In November, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that the government is planning a new law on terror and tightening other security laws. The purpose was to avert the threat of returning supporters to the Islamic State (IS) who fought in Iraq or Syria.
A number of arrests were made during the year against alleged terrorists. In August, the authorities stated that they had averted the plans of militant Islamists to blow up several discos, pubs and Danish Carlsberg brewery outside Kuala Lumpur.
Several notable cases occurred during the year. An appeals court sentenced opposition politician Anwar Ibrahim in March to five years in prison for sodomy. As a result, he was unable to run for election to the popular state of Selangor. Anwar was released on bail and appealed against the verdict, which he claimed was political. He had previously been acquitted in the lower court in 2012. Anwar has previously been jailed for six years for so-called sodomy, but later released. The laws originate from British colonial times.
Anwar was also investigated for rioting in connection with a speech he held in 2011. His lawyer was charged with this when he said the sodomy charge was political. Prime Minister Najib had previously promised to abolish the law introduced by the British in 1948. It has been criticized for being vague and a means to silence the opposition. Since 2013, at least 13 people have been prosecuted according to the Human Rights Watch organization. The opposition and human rights groups felt that Anwar was exposed to dirt.
US President Barack Obama addressed Anwar’s case when he met Prime Minister Najib in April. However, Obama did not meet Anwar. The Malaysian visit was the first American president made in almost 50 years.
In June, the Supreme Court decided not to change a judgment that states that non-Muslims should not call God for Allah. The Catholic Church had driven the case when in 2007 it was banned from using the word Allah in one of its newspapers published in Malay. Muslims claimed that it was an attempt to convert Muslims, while Christians saw it as an example of increased repression against religious minorities.
In November, three Muslim transgender people were given the right to dress in women’s clothing. An appellate court considered that the ban, issued by an Islamic sharia court in the state of Negeri Sembilan, violated the Constitution.
Malaysia was elected in October as one of the non-permanent members of the UN Security Council. The country’s two-year term begins January 1, 2015.