Gonzalez and Higley are at 7-under-par 209 for a two-shot lead over three players.
Saujana Golf and Country Club yielded considerably higher scores in the third round, with just six out of 69 players breaking 70. Temperatures in the 90s and stifling humidity were partly to blame.
'The key is staying patient,' said Higley. 'The rough is thick out there and obviously the heat can get to you, so you have to accept what happens to you and just take the rough with the smooth.'
Higley, a 2006 Challenge Tour graduate, is making just his 12th start on the European Tour. He joined Gonzalez in the lead after making a 35-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole -- his fifth birdie on the day.
'Being in this position is definitely a result of my confidence snowballing after a successful season on the Challenge Tour last year,' Higley said.
Gonzalez, a three-time European Tour winner making his 200th career start, had four birdies and one bogey Saturday. He has been winless since 2004.
'I need to win a tournament. This is my focus for this year,' Gonzalez declared. 'This week would be perfect and I've got a good chance. My experience should help if I am right in contention near the end of my round.'
Angelo Que was among the six players who broke 70. He shot a 4-under 68 and is tied for third place with Edward Loar (72) and Prom Meesawat (70) at 5-under 211.
Peter Hedblom also had a 68 and shares sixth place with David Bransdon (70), Simon Dyson (73) and Simon Yates (70) at 4-under 212.
The leaderboard remained notable for the names that couldn't be found near the top.
European Ryder Cup teammates Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke remained non-factors, with Westwood sitting tied for 30th place at even-par 216 and Clarke languishing a shot further back at 217. Both players had 71s in the third round.
Former U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell (78) was tied for 66th place at 7-over 223 but withdrew following the third round because of a shoulder injury.
Two-time Malaysian Open champion Thongchai Jaidee was among the players who missed the cut when the second round was completed in the morning. Play had been suspended Friday when lightning storms interrupted the afternoon wave.
Surprising second-round leader Chinarat Phadungsil, 18, managed just a 5-over 77 and tumbled all the way into a tie for 18th place at 2-under 214.