The Malaysia idea is certainly novel, and presented as well as I think it possibly could be. The author, Ralph A. Olsen, notes that it avoids a large number of standard Book-of-Mormon location problems, like use of Egyptian, and presence of animals and crops. (For example, he writes that “Wheat, barley, and other cereal grains have long been cultivated in Southeast Asia. There is no evidence of their cultivation in Mesoamerica.”)
I’m not convinced.
I haven’t given this idea serious thought, but it seems to me, on quick reflection, that a major piece of evidence against this theory is First Nephi 12 and 13, which strongly suggest that the Lehites lived somewhere in the Americas. (It is certainly possible to argue that a long trans-Pacific voyage was just not mentioned in Nephi’s vision, but that seems like a strained reading).
I should note that, whatever its merit as a thesis, this article gave Dave a launching-off point for a very thoughtful insight. He writes:
To say that Malaysia is as good a candidate as the “limited geography” Mesoamerican model or the “hemispheric” North American model is to admit that all hypotheses are equally unsupported. In other words, it highlights the disconnect between real-world facts and the Book of Mormon text.