Vietnamese in Malaysia

Malaysians of Vietnamese origin
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Kuala Lumpur, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Selangor, Johor, Sabah, Sarawak
Vietnamese, Chinese and Malay
Atheism, Buddhism, Caodaism and Christianity
Related ethnic groups

The Vietnamese Malaysians consists of people of full or partial Vietnamese descent who were born in or immigrated to Malaysia. The estimated number of people who speak Vietnamese in Malaysia is 70,000 in the country.

Migration history

Vietnamese refugees

After the Fall of Saigon, in 1975 (at the end of the Vietnam War) Malaysia experienced the immigration of Vietnamese refugees. The first refugee boat that arrived in Malaysia was in May 1975, carrying 47 people.[2] A Vietnamese refugee camp was established later in Pulau Bidong in August 1978 with the assistance of the United Nations. As Vietnam began to witness economic growth in the early 1990s, the number of refugee arrivals also quickly dropped in the early 1990s. The joint collaboration efforts between Malaysia, Vietnam and UNHCR to address the refugee problem enabled Malaysia to quickly downsize its Vietnamese refugee populace, facilitating the closure of the Pulau Bidong refugee camp in November 1991.


A group of Vietnamese factory workers having a break in Taiping, Perak

A joint commission meeting between the two countries in 1996 saw the arrival of skilled and semi-skilled workers entering Vietnam from Malaysia in the late 1990s.[3] Between 2002 and 2003, Malaysia saw the first wave of Vietnamese workers coming to Malaysia to provide for its labour demand in the expanding manufacturing sector.[4] By 2003, there were 67,000 Vietnamese workers in Malaysia and both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding which exempted unskilled Vietnamese workers from having to master a sufficient grasp of English or Malaysian language to qualify for employment.[5] The number of Vietnamese work permit holders increased slightly to 80,000-90,000 by 2011, and their presence later expanded to other sectors including construction, housekeeping, agriculture and service sectors.[6] However, these permits also had been used by sexual traffickers to lure Vietnamese women into Malaysian brothels; one raid in January 2014 rescued a total of 108 victims, which 37 of them still have a valid passports.[7]

See also


  1. "Malaysia to raise minimum wage for Vietnamese laborers". Thanh Niên. 1 January 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
  2. Last Vietnamese boat refugee leaves Malaysia, 30 August 2005, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, retrieved 17 September 2013
  3. K. P. Waran (20 October 1996). "Malaysia offers help in some areas". New Straits Times. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  4. Sidel (2008), p. 112
  5. "Malaysia to recruit more Vietnamese workers". Bernama. Utusan Malaysia. 3 December 2003. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  6. "More labour from Vietnam". Bernama. The Star. 17 April 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  7. "Over 100 Vietnamese women rescued from Malaysian brothels". Thanh Niên. 6 January 2014. Retrieved 27 February 2014.

Further reading

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