Whenever I have visited beaches in Malaysia, I have stayed in beach-side chalets or shacks. I know that most island beaches there are designated as 'marine reserves', so is it allowed to set up a tent or a hammock?
Right, I've finally formed an answer for this.
From a Lonely Planet forum:
Of course, that doesn't mean it's illegal, just not common.
Indicates and describes what is protected in a Marine reserve. It's not so much the land, but specifically
which would indicate as long as you don't camp IN the water, you'll be fine, as the land itself is not the protected part :)
Other forums, including the first one above go on to mention many camping stores and tent supplies, so while it may not be common, it certainly exists in the national park areas.
We were able to camp on the beach seen below at Bako National Park in Borneo, Malaysia. We were even able to rent the tent and all the camping equipment at the National Park office.