The Guide for Driving in Malaysia

This guide is meant for non-Malaysians who are either planning to work in Malaysia, or move to Malaysia as part of the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program or just planning to visit Malaysia (for whatever reason, and Thailand flooding is not a good reason!)

For those holding Malaysian Identity Cards (including the forged ones!), please ignore the guide. Reading the guide will cause sudden stomach discomfort, as if you have just eaten humongous amount of chili!

No. 1 – Do Not Use Your Signal Lights

Do not use your signal lights for whatever reason, be it for changing lanes or before turning at a junction. It is considered an insult, especially if the vehicle behind you or the oncoming vehicle is driven by the opposite sex. If you are a man and the vehicle is driven by a woman, signaling is seen as similar to an attempt to chat her up. You will be described by the Chinese as “hum sup” (rhymes with “what’s up!!” but with totally different meaning!! The best translation would be “You horny bugger!!!). That is why signaling has also been associated with road rage.

Most Malaysian have no idea why there are yellow lights on the front and the back of their cars, though some do use them as hazard lights when driving in the rain. Why? So that you know that it is hazardous to drive in the rain, but please drive nevertheless as Malaysians just love going out in their cars in the rain.

No. 2 – Avoid Motorcyclists at All Cost

Do not stare at the motorcyclists when they rev-up their bikes at the junction. Motorcyclists in Malaysia are generally in training for the Motor GP. This is part of the Malaysian government’s secret plan to produce racing champions the likes of Valentino Rossi or the other poor Italian fellow who died last week at the Malaysian Motor GP. Most Malaysians are quite used to watching motorcyclists getting into accidents, thus the throwing of bottles when the race was stopped after the unfortunate accident at the Motor GP. 

As part of the secret plan, and due to budget constraints the motorcyclist are not allowed to practice their maneuvering skills at the tracks, and they are thus forced to train on normal roads, and thus the many accidents. DO NOT STOP TO HELP THEM!!! The other motorists behind you will be very upset. But if you are able to stop by the side, take the registration number of the bike and pass it along to the passing motorists. Don’t ask why, but you will notice some of these motorists stopping at those ubiquitous “number forecasts” outlets.

No. 3 – Please Stop at the Yellow Boxes at the Junctions

Yellow boxes at junctions are places for Malaysian motorists to, amongst others, answer text messages on the phones, pick their noses, put on their makeups, shave, and to think what to have for dinner. So do not honk at them. That is soooo rude!!!

They are only doing what comes naturally for them. And Malaysians spend so much time on the road that they don’t have time to do all those things.

Try waking up at 5.30 am every morning, send the kids to school, send your mother to the wet market and then drive to work!! Then you’ll understand!

No. 4 – Do Not Stop to Help Accident Victims

Road accidents are very common in Malaysia, and part of the learning process for Malaysian motorists. You are not considered a bona fide Malaysian motorist until you have an accident. Just drive along like the ones on the left. Again, if you can safely park by the side without blocking the passing vehicles, take the registration number of the car or motor cycle and pass it along to the passing motorists. They will appreciate it very very much. The victim? Well, that’s the job of the medical personnel when they arrive two hours later after the victim has died. Don’t blame the ambulance, it is not easy trying to drive through traffic jams and in Malaysia, ambulances do not have the right of way over other vehicles. If the pavements are not too high, the ambulances can use them. So it is also quite common to see ambulances turning turtles.

No. 5 – Where to Park Your Car

Parking is very easy in Malaysia, probably the easiest in the world. You can park your cars almost anywhere. Though you do occasionally find the sign on the left, it does not mean “No Parking”. It means “No Peeing”. Yes, we do have Malaysian peeing in public sometimes when they are drunk.

You may also find the sign on the right. You may choose to park your car inside the covered parking lots or the open air parking lots with the sign displayed, but you may risk your car being stolen, or you being molested (if you are a woman), as they are generally empty whilst the road sides near them are packed to the brim. You see Malaysian generally hate paying for parking, especially if the parking rate is more than RM1 per hour. Oh, for your information Malaysia also has the largest free open air parking lot in the world. It is called Jalan Tun Razak. It is named after the second Prime Minister, also known as the “Father of Development” who also happened to be the father of the current Prime Minister. You see, Malaysians love their politicians. However the current Prime Minister still hasn’t got a car park named after him, yet!!

No. 6 – Please Drive on the Fast-Lane Even Though You Are Only Doing 60 km/h

Unlike the Autobahn in Germany, we do have speed limits in Malaysia, where on the highway the speed limit is 110 km/h. Even though you will find signs in Malay saying “Ikut Kiri Jika Tidak Memotong”, it is just an old Malay proverb that everybody ignores and many don’t even understand. The English translation is “Keep left if not overtaking”, which was concocted by some idiots in the Department of Transportation to help the population improve their Malay comprehension as there is now a policy called “Upholding the Malay Language and Strengthening The Command of English”. However due to the budget deficit, all signs will remain in Malay only.

No. 7 – Do Not Ever Give Way to Other Motorists

Don’t ever give way to other motorists, be it at a “roundabout” (yes, the legacy of the British system is still around in some places), or at a junction. If you do, you will find yourself being honked by the vehicle behind you. Though in some places you may find a sign that says, “Sila beri laluan”, which is translated as “Please give way”, this is meant to be for the blind. And even then you will notice that most Malaysian motorists don’t give two hoots about it, as the blind can’t identify your car if you don’t give way.


So, “Selamat Datang ke Malaysia”, and enjoy the driving experience in Malaysia (if you choose to). It will either turn you into such a great driver like Sebastian Vettel (the Formula 1 Champion) or scare the living daylights out of you or traumatize you until you decide to stop driving for the rest of your life.

And by the way, the above guide is also available from the Traffic Division of the Royal Malaysian Police, except it is known to them as the “Seven Deadly Sins of Malaysian Drivers”.




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