How to Identify Real Malaysians

Malaysians! Who are they really?

Malaysians are generally identified by race, Malay, Chinese, Indian and “Yang Lain-Lain” (or “Others”). However after 50 years of the formation of Malaysia in its current form, it is becoming harder to identify them by race anymore.

This is due to inter-cultural and intra-cultural practices and behaviors which have somewhat changed the way Malaysians behaved.

Whilst to a Malaysian, it is still possible to identify a fellow Malaysian, to the foreigners (especially the tourists), identifying a Malaysian can be tricky. So here is generally how Malaysians can be identified from their behaviors.

1.  Malaysians are never on time

-      Yes, time keeping is not a Malaysian trait. The word “punctuality” does not exist in the typical Malaysian’s vocabulary. When a Malaysian tells you he will meet you at 8 am, you will be extremely lucky to see him at that time. You have more luck in striking a lottery win. Chances are he will arrive at least half an hour late. And he will not even apologize for being late. And if he does apologize (due to some fluke of nature), he will blame the traffic. “Traffic jam” is the favourite excuse for Malaysians, irrespective of whether traffic jam was the cause of the delay or not. And if traffic jam was the cause of the delay, he certainly never considered trying to avoid it by either leaving early or using alternative routes. Malaysians love being in traffic jams, even though they will claim to be upset by them.

-      Events are almost always never start on time. So if a wedding dinner is supposed to start at 7 pm, you will be lucky to find food on the table by 8 pm. And if the event is to be graced by a VIP, don’t expect the VIP to be on time either, irrespective of how big the VIP is. One former Prime Minister is notorious of being late, on top of falling asleep during the event!

2.  Malaysians speak Manglish, not English

-      Though initially you may think that Malaysians speak English, it is actually Manglish, or Malaysian English. Whilst generally you may be able to get the gist of the conversation, you may hear certain words or phrases that sound unfamiliar. Most sentences end with “lah”, “mah”, “wan”, “meh” or “ah”. For instance, “I am sure we can do it lah” or “You did it the wrong way mah.” Just ignore the “lah” and “mah”.

Malaysians also use phrases which can be rather confusing to natural English speakers. Some example:

o  “How can?” which basically means “Why?”

o  “Lie that ar?” or “Like that ar?” which basically means “Is that right?” or “Is that how it should be?”.

o  “Don’t play play!” which basically means “Please be serious!”.

Malaysians also have the habit of using words from several languages together with English in one sentence. Some example:

o  “Don’t be so kan cheong” (a combination of English and Chinese) which basically means “Don’t be a busy body”

o  “Let’s go makan” (a combination of English and Malay) which basically means “Let’s get something to eat”.

3.  Malaysians do not follow traffic rules

-      More details of their motoring habits can be viewed in “The Guide to Driving in Malaysia” on the homepage.

Why? Because traffic rules are almost never enforced by the police. And even when they are, Malaysians generally don’t bother paying the fines imposed. Every year, on average 4.7 million summonses are issued by the police for traffic offences. This is the tip of the iceberg (of actual traffic offences)! Because these summonses are mainly for speeding offences. Actual traffic offences committed by motorists (according to a reliable study) is more than ten times that!

Even though many traffic lights are also equipped with cameras, most do not work. A motorist will never be caught for not using the signal lights, for dangerous overtaking, for cutting queues, or for going against the traffic flow! Of the 4.7 million summonses issued every year, only 40% ever gets paid, and we are not talking about being paid in the same year. The 40% payment may take up to 10 years to be collected.

4.  Malaysians are the most gullible citizenry in the world

-      Malaysians are a gullible lot! They believe in almost every conspiracy theory, especially those concocted by the political parties. But these theories have to start online, as anything online is the gospel truth! Anything printed in newspapers cannot be believed! Malaysians only read newspapers for the sports news, cartoons, and the advertisements.

-      Malaysians also fall for scams easily, whether online or physically. Every scam artist in the world knows that Malaysia is the “gold mine”. Every scam known to mankind have a Malaysian victim, and the victim comes from every profession and every level of society, from lonely women to doctors. For every one scam reported in Malaysia, there are another 1,000 unreported! You just name the scam, African Black Money scam, the Facebook foreign friend who’s arrested at the airport by the Immigration personnel scam, the General Botha scam, the Gadaffi scam, the Microsoft lottery scam, the Google lottery scam, and the list goes on and on!

5.  Malaysians are the biggest waster of food

-      Yes, Malaysians love to eat. In fact if there is any unifying factor in Malaysia, it is food. Go to any hotel buffet or any “open house” buffet (during festivals), and you will see how Malaysians will pile the plates with humungous amount of food enough to feed a whole family of ten! Not that the food on the plate is meant for ten people! And does the food get eaten? Maybe a quarter of the plate, if the person is really hungry. Otherwise it is just to show that he intends to fully get his money’s worth (if it is a hotel buffet). Probably half the food at hotel buffet lines gets wasted at the end of the day. That’s why hotel buffet is now extremely expensive (especially during the Ramadan period). The price is to cover the cost of disposing the waste!  

6.  Malaysians love English Premier League football

-      Every weekend, food stalls and open air foot outlets will be filled by Malaysians watching football games telecast live from the United Kingdom. Ask any of those at these outlets to name one player on the Malaysian national team, you will be faced with a totally blank look. It is as if there is no such thing as a Malaysian football team. Well, the fact that the Malaysian national football team is ranked somewhere between 150 and 200 in the world certainly does not help! 

So that’s just 6 of the many ways to identify Malaysians. Malaysia is a unique country, where it claims to be multi-cultural and multi-races, but most people prefer to live with people of the same cultural background or the same race. Malaysians are supposed to be polite and friendly, but in most instances Malaysians are the rudest people in the world especially when they are driving!

Yes, Malaysia truly Asia! A country that still does not know how to live in a multi-race and multi-cultural environment even after 50 years!


Back to Contents