Saturday, June 04, 2011

Becoming a Malaysian... so far...

When we are staying outside the country, sometime we need get adapted to the culture of new outside world. Since I’m working in Malaysia, I’m also trying to be in same culture and trying to learn the language (Bhasha Malaysia or rather basha Melayu). So today I thought to share my living experiences in Malaysia.

History and culture of Malaysia
Before the rise of the European colonial powers, the Malay Peninsula and the Malay Archipelago (cluster islands) were home to empires such as the Srivijaya, the Majapahit (both ruled from Indonesia) and the Melaka Sultanate. The Srivijaya and Majapahit empires saw the spread of Hinduism to the region, and to this day, despite being nominally Muslim, many Hindu legends and traditions survive in traditional Malay culture. Mass conversion to Islam only occurred after the arrival of Arab traders during the Melaka Sultanate.

Malaysia is a multicultural society. While Malays make up a 54% majority, there are also 25% Chinese (especially visible in the cities), 7.5% Indian and a miscellaneous grouping of 13.5% "others", such as the Portuguese clan in Melaka and 12% of indigenous peoples (Orang Asli). There is hence also a profusion of faiths and religions, with Muslim 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 2.6%, other or unknown 1.5%, none 0.8% (2000 census).

Learning the language
In Malaysia, the 1957 Article 152 of the Federation adopted Johor (Malacca) Malay as the official language (Bahasa Malaysia). The name "Malaysia", in both language and country, emphasized that the nation consisted of more than just ethnic Malays. In 1986 the official name was changed to Bahasa Melayu, but in 2007 it was changed back.

Most of the Malay people says, BM (Bahsa Malaysia) is easy to learn. So far I was able to catch only 6-7 phases and 20-25 words. For me, most useful phase in Malay is “Di mana tandas?” which means “Where is the toilet?”.

You can find BM teaching website here

Moving with people
Malaysian people are friendly and they respecting to others, but sometimes they are proud. Every race in Malaysia has its own weaknesses. As I heard from one of the Malaysian Indian person, there is a Malay proverb quote.
“If a Malay is not lazy he cannot be a Malay, If an Indian is not talkative he cannot be an Indian, If a Chinese is not collecting money, he cannot be a Chinese”
The Malays are known to be too lazy. The Chinese are known to be very civil, disciplined and sometimes too hardworking. A Chinese who gets his/her pay, will tend to keep it for emergency or future use. A Malay in the other hand, would usually spend it immediately. Indians are very talkative and they talking too louder.

I have noticed, most of the Indian taxi drivers are rarely uses taxi meter and always asking more money from passengers but majority of Malay and Chinese taxi drivers are always following the taxi meter and respecting to the passenger. I have heard there are some mafias in Malaysia, still I was fortunate not to became a victim of it.

So when you come to Malaysia, sometimes my tips will be helpful to you.

Most of the numbers and historical details from :

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