Malaysia is a multicultural society whose population primarily consists of native Malaysians, Indians and Chinese. While each ethnicity has their own sets of values, there are a few traditional customs that everyone in Malaysia practices.
Whenever you visit a foreign country, it helps to be familiarized with some of the customs that the natives of that specific country practices, because it influences how people interact with each other within that country. The reality of the fact is that whenever you ignore a community’s custom, it can cause a great deal of conflict. So whenever you visit Malaysia by acknowledging a few of their customs you can make a smooth transition into their community. Here are some customs that you should be familiarized with if you intend to visit Malaysia.
When it comes to meeting and greeting people within Malaysia, most of the natives are well aware of the traditional handshakes that westerners practice and they do so as well but with a few exceptions.
Malaysia women typically don’t shake hands with men, but they do shake the hands of women. Instead, men bow while placing their hand over their heart as a form of greeting women. Another significant aspect of Malaysian greetings is that, whenever they introduce someone they start off with the most important individual down to the lower ranking individual, they also introduce the elderly before the young and women before men.
Another interesting custom in Malaysia is the exclusion of surnames. Instead of utilizing a surname they use their parent’s name instead with the term ‘bin/binti’ meaning ‘son of/daughter of’. So a man by the name of ‘Rackeem Bin Alladin’, would translate to Rackeem son of Alladin, in english. The same goes for women, if a woman goes by the name of Ashirah Binti Alladin for example, in English it would translate to Ashirah daughter of Alladin. It is also interesting to note that in Malaysia it is considered friendly to call elders “uncle” or “auntie” instead of “Mr/Sir” or “Ma’am/Madam.”
Giving And Receiving Gifts
Another important set of customs you should get familiarized with is the process of giving and receiving gifts, especially if you intend to stay with a local family. A good rule of thumb to remember is the fact that for the most part, Malaysians don’t accept alcohol or anything that consists of pigskin. If you must, when you give them food it needs to be halal which is foods that are allowed to be consumed under the Islamic dietary guidelines.
Another thing to remember when it comes to giving gifts is that you should avoid wrapping them in black, white or blue paper, due to the fact that they associate those colors with death. Yellow on the other hand should be avoided as well because this is the color of the royal family.