Droste, that's what the red identity cards (now called MyPR) are for. And there are lots of those around so permanent residency does exist.
MartinCh, I think there's a 10-year resident pass for highly skilled expatriates now. It's not tied to any employer so the holder can move around during the valid period. The Malaysian government also announced sometime last year it would try to make it easier for foreign nationals to obtain and renew work passes but not sure if anything's changed yet.