Malay Culture Essay Samples

The culture of Malaysia draws on the varied cultures of the different people of Malaysia. The first people to live in the area were indigenous tribes that still remain; they were followed by the Malays, who moved there from mainland Asia in ancient times. Chinese and Indian cultural influences made their mark when trade began with those countries, and increased with immigration to Malaysia. Other cultures that heavily influenced that of Malaysia include Persian, Arabic, and British. The many different ethnicities that currently exist in Malaysia have their own unique and distinctive cultural identities, with some crossover.

Arts and music have a long tradition in Malaysia, with Malay art dating back to the Malay sultanates. Traditional art was centred on fields such as carving, silversmithing, and weaving. Islamic taboos restricted artwork depicting humans until the mid-20th century. Performing arts and shadow puppet shows are popular, and often show Indian influences. Various influences can be seen in architecture, from individual cultures in Malaysia and from other countries. Large modern structures have been built, including the tallest twin buildings in the world, the Petronas Twin Towers. Malaysian music has a variety of origins, and is largely based around percussion instruments. Much early Malaysian literature was based on Indian epics, which remained unchanged even as Malays converted to Islam; this has expanded in recent decades. English literature remained restricted to the higher class until the arrival of the printing press. Locally created Chinese and Indian literature appeared in the 19th century.

Cuisine is often divided along ethnic lines, but some dishes exist which have mixed foods from different ethnicities. Each major religious group has its major holy days declared as official holidays. Official holidays differ by state; the most widespread one is Merdeka day which celebrates the independence of Malaya. Although festivals often stem from a specific ethnic background, they are celebrated by all people in Malaysia. Traditional sports are popular in Malaysia, while it has become a powerhouse in international sports such as badminton. Malaysia hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1998, the first Commonwealth Games where the torch passed through more countries than England and the host.

The Malaysian government has taken the step of defining Malaysian Culture through the "1971 National Culture Policy", which defined what was considered official culture, basing it around Malay culture and integrating Islamic influences. This especially affected language; only Malay texts are considered official cultural texts. Government control over the media is strong, and most media outlets are related to the government in some way.


Malaysia consists of two distinct geographical regions: Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia. Malaysia was formed when the Federation of Malaya merged with North Borneo (today the province of Sabah), Sarawak, and Singapore (seceded 1965) in 1963,[1] and cultural differences between Peninsular and East Malaysia remain. During the formation of Malaysia, executive power was vested in the Perikatan (later the Barisan Nasional) coalition of three racially based political parties, namely the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC).[2] UMNO has dominated the coalition from its inception.[3] Although Islam is the official state religion, the Constitution of Malaysia guarantees freedom of religion.[4]

Ethnic groups[edit]

See also: Demographics of Malaysia

Malaysia is a multi–ethnic, multicultural, and multilingual society, and the many ethnic groups in Malaysia maintain separate cultural identities.[5] The society of Malaysia has been described as "Asia in miniature".[6] The original culture of the area stemmed from its indigenous tribes, along with the Malays who moved there in ancient times. Substantial influence exists from the Chinese and Indian cultures, dating back to when trade with those countries began in the area. Other cultures that heavily influenced that of Malaysia include Persian, Arabic, and British. The structure of the government, along with the racial balance of power caused by the idea of a social contract, has resulted in little incentive for the cultural assimilation of ethnic minorities in Malaya and Malaysia.[7] The government has historically made little distinction between "Malay culture" and "Malaysian culture".[8]

The Malays, who account for over half the Malaysian population,[1] play a dominant role politically and are included in a grouping identified as bumiputra. Their native language, Bahasa Malaysia, is the national language of the country.[9] By definition of the Malaysian constitution, all Malays are Muslims. The Orang Asal, the earliest inhabitants of Malaya, formed only 0.5 percent of the total population in Malaysia in 2000,[10] but represented a majority in East Malaysia. In Sarawak, most of the non-Muslim indigenous groups are classified as Dayaks, and they constitute about 40 percent of the population in the state.[11] Many tribes have converted to Christianity.[12] The 140,000 Orang Asli, or aboriginal peoples, comprise a number of different ethnic communities living in peninsular Malaysia.[13]

The Chinese have been settling in Malaysia for many centuries, and form the second-largest ethnic group.[1] The first Chinese to settle in the Straits Settlements, primarily in and around Malacca, gradually adopted elements of Malaysian culture and intermarried with the Malaysian community and with this, a new ethnic group called emerged, the Peranakan ("Straits Chinese"). These Chinese have adopted Malay traditions while maintaining elements of Chinese culture such as their largely Buddhist and Taoist religion.[7] The more common Chinese varieties spoken in Peninsular Malaysia are Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainanese, and Fuzhou.[1]

The Indian community in Malaysia is the smallest of the three main ethnic groups, accounting for about 10 percent of the country's population. They speak a variety of South Asian languages.[1]Tamils, Malayalees, and Telugu people make up over 85 percent of the people of Indian origin in the country. Indian immigrants to Malaysia brought with them the Hindu and Sikh cultures. This included temples and Gurdwaras, cuisine, and clothing. Hindu tradition remains strong in the Indian community of Malaysia. A community of Indians who have adopted Malay cultural practices also exists in Malacca. Though they remain Hindu, the Chitties speak Bahasa Malaysia and dress and act as Malays.[7]

Some Eurasians of mixed European and Malay descent live in Malaysia. A small community in Malacca are descendants of former Portuguese colonists who married Malay women. While they have adopted Malay culture, they speak their own language and are Catholics.[7]

Each ethnic group has its own underlying culture that separates it from the others, and they have achieved different levels of integration. The Chinese have integrated with Malay culture in a number of areas, including parts of Terengganu, and they form Malayanised groups such as the Baba Chinese in Malacca and the Sino-Kadazan of Sabah. Their years under combined British rule brought some joint sense of identity to all the ethnic groups, with English ideas and ideals providing some unifying features. A joint Malaysian culture can be seen in the symbiosis of the cultures of the people within it.[14]

Policies and controversies[edit]

The Malaysian government defined Malaysian culture through the issuance of the "1971 National Culture Policy".[15] It defines three principles as guidelines for Malaysian culture: that it is based on the cultures of indigenous people; that if elements from other cultures are judged suitable and reasonable they may be considered Malaysian culture; and that Islam will be an important part of national culture.[15]

Some cultural disputes exist between Malaysia and neighbouring Indonesia. The two countries share a similar cultural heritage, sharing many traditions and items. However, disputes have arisen over things ranging from culinary dishes to Malaysia's national anthem. Strong feelings exist in Indonesia about protecting that nation's national heritage.[16] The rivalry between the two countries began during Konfrontasi just after Malaysian independence, when Indonesia and Malaysia were almost at war. Building resentment since then coupled with the economic success of Malaysia mean these feelings are still strong in Indonesia today.[17] The Malaysian government and the Indonesian government have met to defuse some of the tensions resulting from the overlaps in culture.[18] Feelings are not as strong in Malaysia, where most recognise that many cultural values are shared.[16]

One dispute, known as the Pendet controversy, began when Indonesians claimed the Pendet Dance was used in an official Malaysian tourism ad campaign, causing official protests.[19] This dance, from Bali in Indonesia, was used only in a Discovery Channel ad, not an ad sponsored by the Malaysian government.[20] Songs, such as the Rasa Sayange song, have caused similar controversies.[19] The Malaysian national anthem, Negaraku, was claimed to be based on a similar Indonesian song written a year earlier. Both tunes are derived from a 19th century French song, which caused the similarity.[21]


Traditional Malaysian art is mainly centred on the crafts of carving, weaving, and silversmithing.[22] Traditional art ranges from handwoven baskets from rural areas to the silverwork of the Malay courts. Common artworks included ornamental kris and beetle nut sets. Luxurious textiles known as Songket are made, as well as traditional patterned batik fabrics. Indigenous East Malaysians are known for their wooden masks. Malaysian art has expanded only recently, as before the 1950s Islamic taboos about drawing people and animals were strong.[23] Textiles such as the batik, songket, pua kumbu, and tekat are used for decorations, often embroidered with a painting or pattern. Traditional jewelry was made from gold and silver adorned with gems, and, in East Malaysia, leather and beads were used to the same effect.[24]

Earthenware has been developed in many areas. The Labu Sayong is a gourd-shaped clay jar that holds water. Perak is famous for these. Also used to store water is the angular Terenang. The belanga is a clay bowl used to cook, with a wide base that allows heat to spread easily.[24] Carved wood is used as ornamentation for many items, such as doors and window panels.[23] Woodcarving was never an industry, but an art. Traditional woodcarvers spent years simply preparing the wood, due to a belief that woodcarvers need to be a perfect match with their wood. The wood also had to match the buyer, so woodcarving was a very ritualised task.[25]

Each ethnic group has distinct performing arts, with little overlap between them. Malay art shows some North Indian influence.[26] A form of art called mak yong, incorporating dance and drama, remains strong in the Kelantan state.[27] However, older Malayan-Thai performing arts such as mak yong have declined in popularity throughout the country due to their Hindu-Buddhist origin. Since the Islamisation period, the arts and tourism ministry have focused on newer dances of Portuguese, Middle Eastern, or Mughal origin. Malay traditional dances include joget melayu and zapin. In recent years, dikir barat has grown in popularity, and it is actively promoted by state governments as a cultural icon.[28]Silat is another popular Malay martial art and dance form, believed to increase a person's spiritual strength.[24]Wayang kulit (shadow puppet theatre) has been popular in Malaysia for centuries.[26] The puppets are usually made with cow and buffalo skin, and are carved and painted by hand.[24] Plays done with shadow puppets are often based on traditional stories,[29] especially tales from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Traditionally, theatrical music is performed only by men.[26] Javanese immigrants brought Kuda Kepang to Johor, and is a form of dance where dancers sit on mock horses and tells the tales of Islamic wars. The Chinese communities brought traditional lion dances and dragon dances with them, while Indians brought art forms such as Bharata Natyam and Bhangra. Colonialism also brought other art forms, such as the Portuguese Farapeira and Branyo. There are a variety of traditional dances, which often have very strong spiritual significance. Different tribes from west and east Malaysia have different dances.[24]

In 2010, the Malaysian Art Culture was introduced to a new revival with the arrival of new independent galleries that focuses on the new contemporary young local artists. One of the most prominent key players in this new counter-culture is Minut Init Art Social in Uptown Damansara.


Architecture in Malaysia is a combination of many styles, from Islamic and Chinese styles to those brought by European colonists.[23] Malay architecture has changed due to these influences. Houses in the north are similar to those in Thailand, while those in the south are similar to those in Java. New materials, such as glasses and nails, were brought in by Europeans, changing the architecture.[30] Houses are built for tropical conditions, raised on stilts with high roofs and large windows, allowing air to flow through the house and cool it down.[24] Wood has been the main building material for much of Malaysia's history; it is used for everything from the simple kampung to royal palaces.[23] In Negeri Sembilan traditional houses are entirely free of nails.[24] Besides wood, other common materials such as bamboo and leaves were used.[30] The Istana Kenangan in Kuala Kangar was built in 1926, and it the only Malay palace with bamboo walls. The Oral Asal of East Malaysia live in longhouses and water villages. Longhouses are elevated and on stilts, and can house 20 to 100 families. Water villages are also built on stilts, with houses connected with planks and most transport by boats.[24]

Chinese architecture can be divided into two types, traditional and Baba Nyonya. Baba Nyonya households are made of colourful tiles and have large indoor courtyards. Indian architecture came with the Malaysian Indians, reflecting the architecture of southern India where most originated from. Some Sikh architecture was also imported.[24]Malacca, which was a traditional centre of trade, has a large variety of building styles. Large wooden structures such as the Palace of Sultan Mansur Shah exist from early periods. Chinese influence can be seen in brightly decorated temples and terraced shop houses.[23] The largest remaining Portuguese structure in Malacca is the A Famosa fort. Other colonial building include the Dutch Stadthuys,[24] the Dutch Colonial town brick buildings, and buildings built by the British such as the Memorial Hall, which combines Baroque and Islamic architecture.[23]

The shapes and sizes of houses differ from state to state. Common elements in Peninsular Malaysia include pitched roofs, verandahs, and high ceilings, raised on stilts for ventilation. The woodwork in the house is often intricately carved. The floors are at different levels depending on the function of the room.[30] Mosques have traditionally been based on Javanese architecture.[23] In modern times, the government has promoted different projects, from the tallest twin buildings in the world, the Petronas Twin Towers, to a whole garden city, Putrajaya. Malaysian firms are developing skyscraper designs that are specifically for tropical climates.[23]


Main article: Music of Malaysia

Traditional Malay music and performing arts appear to have originated in the Kelantan-Pattani region with influences from India, China, Thailand, and Indonesia. The music is based around percussion instruments,[26] the most important of which is the gendang (drum). There are at least 14 types of traditional drums.[31] Drums and other traditional percussion instruments are often made from natural materials such as shells.[31] Other instruments include the rebab (a bowed string instrument), the serunai (a double-reed oboe-like instrument), the seruling (flute), and trumpets. Music is traditionally used for storytelling, celebrating life-cycle events, and at annual events such as the harvest.[26] Music was once used as a form of long-distance communication.[31] Traditional orchestra can be divided between two forms, the gamelan which plays melodies using gongs and string instruments, and the nobat which uses wind instruments to create more solemn music.[24]

In East Malaysia, ensembles based around gongs such as agung and kulintang are commonly used in ceremonies such as funerals and weddings.[32] These ensembles are also common in the southern Philippines, Kalimantan in Indonesia, and in Brunei.[32] Chinese and Indian Malaysians have their own forms of music, and the indigenous tribes of Peninsula and East Malaysia have unique traditional instruments.[23] In countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia it is believed that performing at the house during Hari Raya (a traditional malay festival) is a good belief as it brings goodluck and fortune to the performers and host of the house.

Within Malaysia, the largest performing arts venue is the Petronas Philharmonic Hall. The resident orchestra is the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.[33] Malay popular music is a combination of styles from all ethnicities in the country.[23] The Malaysian government has taken steps to control what music is available in Malaysia; rap music has been criticised,[34] heavy metal has been limited,[35] and foreign bands must submit a recording of a recent concert before playing in Malaysia.[36] It is believed that this music is a bad influence on youth.[35]


Main article: Malaysian literature

The strong oral tradition that has existed since before the arrival of writing to what is now Malaysia continues today. These early works were heavily influenced by Indian epics.[37] Oral literature such as folktales flourished even after printed works appeared.[23] The Arabic Jawi script arrived with the coming of Islam to the peninsula in the late 15th century.[37] At this point, stories which previously had given lessons in Hinduism and Buddhism were taken to have more universal meanings, with their main story lines remaining intact.[29] Each of the Malay Sultanates created their own literary tradition influenced by preexisting oral stories and by the stories that came with Islam.[37] The arrival of the printing press in Malaysia was key in allowing literature to be accessed by more than those rich enough to afford handwritten manuscripts.[29] There was a division between the royal Malays, who knew English, and the lower classes, who only read Malay.[23] In the early years of the 20th century, literature began to change to reflect the changing norms of Malaysians.[29] In 1971 the government took the step of defining the literature of different languages. Literature written in Malay was called "The National Literature of Malaysia"; literature in other bumiputra languages was called "regional literature"; literature in other languages was called "sectional literature".[38]

Malay poetry is highly developed, and uses many forms.[37] A Hikayat is a traditional narrative, and stories written in that fashion are named using Hikayat followed by the name(s) of the protagonist(s). The pantun is a form of poetry used in many aspects of Malay culture. The Syair is another form of narrative, once very popular.[29] The Hikayat form remains popular, and the pantun has spread from Malay to other languages.[37] Until the 19th century, literature produced in Malaysia focused mainly on tales of royalty,[29] as it was produced just for royalty.[23] It was after this point that it expanded to other areas.[29] The race riots of 1969 strongly influenced literature; the improvements of the economy in the 1980s brought about social changes and new forms of literature.[23]

The first Malay literature was in Arabic script. The earliest known Malay writing is on the Terengganu Inscription Stone, made in 1303.[23] One of the more famous Malay works is the Sulalatus al-Salatin, also known as the Sejarah Melayu (meaning "The Malay Annals"). It was originally recorded in the 15th century, although it has since been edited;[37] the known version is from the 16th century. The Hikaya Rajit Pasai, written in the 15th century, is another significant literary work.[23] The Hikayat Hang Tuah, or story of Hang Tuah, tells the story of Hang Tuah and his devotion to his Sultan.[23] This is the most famous Hikayat;[29] it drew from the Sejarah Melayu. Both have been nominated as world heritage items under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 'Memory of the World' programme.[37] Folktales such as the Hikayat Sang Kancil, about a clever mouse deer, are popular, as are adventures such as Ramayana, adapted from Indian epics. Munshi Abdullah (Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir), who lived from 1797 to 1854, is regarded as the father of Malay literature. Hikayat Abdullah, his autobiography, is about everyday life at the time when British influence was spreading. Female Malay writers began becoming popular in the 1950s.[23]

Different ethnic and linguistic groups have produced works in their own languages.[23] Chinese and Indian literature became common as the numbers of speakers increased in Malaysia, and locally produced works based in languages from those areas began to be produced in the 19th century.[37] Beginning in the 1950s, Chinese literature expanded; homemade literature in Indian languages has failed to emerge. English has become a common literary language.[23]


Main article: Malaysian cuisine

Malaysia's cuisine reflects the multiethnic makeup of its population,[39] and is defined by its diversity.[40] Many cultures from Malaysia and the surrounding areas have greatly influenced Malaysian cuisine, with strong influence from Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Javanese, and Sumatran cuisines.[23] Much of this is due to Malaysia being a part of the ancient spice route.[40] The cuisine is very similar to that of Singapore and Brunei,[41] and also bears resemblance to Filipino cuisine.[23] The different states of Malaysia have varied dishes,[41] and often the food in Malaysia is different from the original dishes.[42]

Sometimes food not found in its original culture is assimilated into another; for example, Chinese restaurants in Malaysia often serve Malaysian dishes.[43] Food from one culture is sometimes cooked using styles taken from another.[41] This means that although many Malaysian dishes originate from another culture, they have their own identities.[40] Often the food in Malaysia is different from the original dishes;[44] for example, Chinese food is often sweeter in Malaysian versions than the original.[23] The Peranakans, Chinese who moved to Malaysia centuries ago, have their own unique cuisine that Chinese cooking techniques with Malay ingredients.[40]

During a dinner food is not served in courses, but all at once.[23] Rice is popular in many Malaysian dishes. Chilli is commonly found in Malaysian dishes, although this does not make them spicy.[39] Noodles are common. Pork is rarely used in Malaysia, because of the large Muslim population. Some celebrations have food associated with them, and mooncakes are often eaten during Mooncake Festival.[23]


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See also: Malaysian cultural outfits

See also: Hijab by country § Malaysia

As of 2013 most Muslim Malaysian women wear the tudung, a type of hijab. This use of the tudung was uncommon prior to the 1979 Iranian revolution,[45] and the places that had women in tudung tended to be rural areas. The usage of the tudung sharply increased after the 1970s.[46] as religious conservatism among Malay people in both Malaysia and Singapore increased.[47]

Several members of the Kelantan ulama in the 1960s believed the hijab was not mandatory.[45] By 2015 the Malaysian ulama believed this previous viewpoint was un-Islamic.[48]

By 2015 Malaysia had a fashion industry related to the tudung.[45] By 2015 Muslim Malay society had a negative reaction to Muslim women who do not wear tudung.[46]

Norhayati Kaprawi directed a 2011 documentary about the use of tudung in Malaysia, "Siapa Aku?" ("Who am I?"). It is in Malay, with English subtitles available.[48]


Main article: Public holidays in Malaysia

Malaysians observe a number of holidays and festivities throughout the year, on both the federal and state level. Other festivals are observed by particular ethnic or religion groups, but are not public holidays. The main holy days of each major religion are public holidays. The most widespread holiday is the "Hari Merdeka" (Independence Day), otherwise known as "Merdeka" (Freedom), on 31 August. It commemorates the independence of the Federation of Malaya. This, as well as Labour Day (1 May), the King's birthday (first Saturday of June), and some other festivals are major national public holidays. Federal Territory day is celebrated in the three Federal territories.[23]Malaysia Day, held on 16 September, commemorates the formation of Malaysia through the union of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah, and Sarawak, although it is celebrated mainly in East Malaysia.[49]

New Year's Day, Chinese New Year, and the start of the Islamic calendar are all public holidays.[23]Muslim holidays are highly prominent in Malaysia. The most important of these is Hari Raya Puasa (also called Hari Raya Aidilfitri),[50] which is the Malay translation of Eid al-Fitr. It is a festival honoured by Muslims worldwide marking the end of Ramadan, the fasting month. They also celebrate Hari Raya Haji (also called Hari Raya Aidiladha, the translation of Eid ul-Adha), Awal Muharram (Islamic New Year) and Maulidur Rasul (Birthday of the Prophet).[23]

Malaysian Chinese typically hold the same festivals observed by Chinese around the world. Chinese New Year is the most prominent, lasting for 15 days. Hindus in Malaysia celebrate Deepavali, the festival of light,[23] while Thaipusam is a celebration in which pilgrims from all over the country meet at the Batu Caves.[51]Wesak (Malay for Vesak), the day of Buddha's birth, is a public holiday. Malaysia's Christian community observes most of the holidays observed by Christians elsewhere, most notably Christmas[23] and Easter. Good Friday, however, is only a public holiday in the two Bornean states. The harvest festivals of Gawai in Sarawak and Kaamatan in Sabah are also important for East Malaysians.[52]

Despite most of the festivals being identified with a particular ethnic or religious group, festivities are often participated in by all Malaysians. One example of this is the celebration of Kongsi Raya, which is celebrated when Hari Raya Puasa and Chinese New Year coincide. The term Kongsi Raya (which means "sharing the celebration" in Malay) was coined because of the similarity between the word kongsi and the Chinese New Year greeting of Gong xi fa cai. Similarly, the portmanteau Deepa Raya was coined when Hari Raya Puasa and Deepavali coincided.[53]

A practice known as "open house" (rumah terbuka) is common during the festivities, especially during Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Deepavali, Chinese New Year, and Christmas. Open house means that all well-wishers are received and that everyone, regardless of background, is invited to attend.[12] Open houses are normally held at the home of the host and foods are prepared by the host. There are also open houses held at larger public venues, especially when hosted by government agencies or corporations. Most Malaysians take the time off work or school to return to their hometowns to celebrate the festivities with their extended relatives. This practice is commonly known as balik kampung and usually causes traffic jams on most highways in the country.[54]


Main article: Sport in Malaysia

Popular sports in Malaysia include badminton, bowling, football, squash, and field hockey.[55] Malaysia has small-scale traditional sports. Wau is a traditional form of kite-flying involving kites created with intricate designs. These kites can reach heights of nearly 500 metres (1,640 ft), and due to bamboo attachments create a humming sound when flown.[56]Sepak takraw is a game in which a rattan ball is kept in the air without using hands.[57] A traditional game played during the rice harvest season was throwing gasing, which are large tops weighing around 5 kilograms (11 lb), which are thrown by unfurling a rope and scooped off the ground while spinning. They are known to be able to spin for over an hour.[24] Other sports are dragon dancing and dragon-boat racing. Malaysia's coastline is popular for scuba diving, sailing, and other water sports and activities.[57]Whitewater rafting and trekking are also often done.[58]

Many international sports are highly popular in Malaysia. Badminton matches in Malaysia attract thousands of spectators, and Malaysia, along with Indonesia and China, has consistently held the Thomas Cup since 1949.[59] Famous players include Lee Chong Wei.[citation needed] The Malaysian Lawn Bowls Federation (PLBM) was registered in 1997,[60] and already fields a strong international team[61] and has made progress on the international stage.[62]Squash was brought to Malaysia by members of the British army, with the first competition being held in 1939. The Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) was created on 25 June 1972, and has had great success in Asian squash competitions.[63] Football is popular in Malaysia,[57] and Malaysia has proposed a Southeast Asian football league.[64] Hockey is popular in Malaysia, with the Malaysian team ranked 14th in the world as of 2010.[65] Malaysia hosted the third Hockey World Cup at the Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, before also hosting the 10th cup.[66] Malaysia has its own Formula One track, the Sepang International Circuit. It runs for 310.408 kilometres (193 mi), and held its first Grand Prix in 2000.[67] Golf is growing in popularity, with many courses being built around the country.[55]

The Federation of Malaya Olympic Council was formed in 1953, and received recognition by the International Olympic Committee in 1954. It first participated in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. The council was renamed the Olympic Council of Malaysia in 1964, and has participated in all but one Olympic games since the council was formed. The largest number of athletes sent to the Olympics was 57, to the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.[68] Malaysian athletes have won a total of four Olympic medals, all of which are in badminton.[69] Malaysia has competed at the Commonwealth Games since 1950 as Malaya, and 1966 as Malaysia. It has been dominant in badminton, and hosted the games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.[70] The 1998 Commonwealth Games were the first time the torch relay went through more nations than just England and the host country.[71]


Main article: Media of Malaysia

Much of the Malaysian media is tied to the ruling UMNO party,[72] with the county's main newspaper owned by the government and political parties in the ruling coalition.[73] Major opposition parties also have their own newspapers.[74] Besides Malay newspapers, there is large circulation of English, Chinese, and Tamil dailies.[75] The media has been blamed for increasing tension between Indonesia and Malaysia, and giving Malaysians a bad image of Indonesians.[76] There is a divide between the media in the two halves of Malaysia. Peninsular-based media gives low priority to news from East Malaysia, and often treats it as a colony of the Peninsular.[75] Internet access is rare outside the main urban centres,[72] and those of the lower classes have less access to non-government news sources.[73]

The regulated freedom of the press has been criticised, and it has been claimed that the government threatens journalists with reduced employment opportunities and denial of family admittance to universities.[77] The Malaysian government has previously tried to crack down on opposition papers before elections when the ruling party was unsure of its political situation.[74] In 2007, a government agency issued a directive to all private television and radio stations to refrain from broadcasting speeches made by opposition leaders,[78] a move condemned by politicians from the opposition Democratic Action Party.[79] Sabah, where only one tabloid is not independent of government control, has the freest press in Malaysia.[75] Legislation such as the Printing Presses and Publications Act has been cited as curtailing freedom of expression.[77] The Malaysian government has large control over the media due to this Act, which stipulates that a media organisation must have the government's permission to operate. However, the "Bill of Guarantee of No Internet Censorship" passed in the 1990s means that internet news is uncensored.[72]


Main article: Cinema of Malaysia

Malaysian filming has gone through five stages. The first stage occurred when narrative filmmaking began in 1933, with the production of Laila Majnun by a company operating out of Singapore. For the first couple of decades following World War II, most films were directed by directors from India and the Philippines, which produced a second stage of movies. The first locally directed film, Permata di-Perlembahan, was produced in 1952. It however failed in the cinemas. A third stage appeared as Singapore-based studios began to produce films in the 1950s, but the industry was subsequently damaged due to independence of Singapore and the loss of studios there. Indonesian films gained popularity at this time, although a small group of filmmakers continued to produce in Malaysia, forming the fourth stage. In the 1980s the local industry began to recover, bringing about the fifth and most eloquent stage, which covered more themes than any previous stage. This was also the first time non-Malay films began to have a significant presence.[80]

The government began to sponsor films in 1975, creating the National Film Development Corporation in 1981.[80] Through this the government offers loans to filmmaker's who want to develop films, however the criteria for obtaining funds has been criticised as promoting only commercial films. Due to this lack of government funding for smaller projects, a strong independent film movement has developed. There has been a large increase in short films, which in the past two decades have begun to gain status in international film festivals. Independent documentaries often cover areas which would normally be censored by the government, such as sex and sexuality, as well as racial inequality and tension. Although the government has criticised some films for not showing multiculturalism, its actions have been inconsistent in that respect, and often favour the Malay culture over others.[81]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ abcde"Malaysia". Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  2. ^"Was Merdeka taken or was it given?". 8 November 2010. Archived from the original on 11 November 2010. Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  3. ^"Malaysia". 14 July 2010. Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  4. ^"No Freedom of Worship for Muslims Says Court". 31 May 2007. Archived from the original on 27 May 2008. Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  5. ^Kahn, Joel S. (1998). Southeast Asian Identities: Culture and the Politics of Representation in Indonesia, Malaysian, Singapore and Thailand. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. p. 169. ISBN 981-3055-79-0. 
  6. ^Andaya, Barbara Watson; Andaya, Leonard Y. (1982). A History of Malaysia. London: MacMillan Press Ltd. p. xiii. ISBN 0-333-27672-8. 
  7. ^ abcdR. Raghavan (1977), "Ethno-racial marginality in West Malaysia: The case of the Peranakan Hindu Melaka or Malaccan Chitty community", Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies, 133 (4)), pp. 438–458, ISSN
Clockwise from bottom left: beef soup, ketupat (compressed rice cubes), beef rendang and sayur lodeh
Gasing spinning top at the cultural center Gelanggang Seni

Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multicultural and multilingual society which consist of three major races; the Malays, the Chinese, and the Indians. They are once immigrants who are brought in as workers by the British. The tribal people who lived in Malaysia long before the existence of the three races are known as the Orang Asli which means “Original People”; they populate the East Malaysia more in Sabah (Dayak,

Iban, and Bidayuh) and Sarawak (Kadazan) in our current era. There are also other immigrants and expatriates races like Indonesian, Europeans, and etc. Among the three races, the Malay population is the largest. The people in Malaysia lived in harmony in relation with each other, in business, in marriage, and even sharing food amongst themselves in someone’s wedding dinner or “kenduri”. The Malaysian flag also known as the “Jalur Gemilang” consist of 14 stripes which represents 14 states in Malaysia, the colours are red (courage), yellow (royalty), white (honesty and integrity), and blue (unity and harmony of the people). National anthem: Negaraku (My country)</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">National Car Company: PROTON, and PERODUA<br /> National newspaper: The Star, The Sun, Berita Harian, Utusan Malaysia, Sin Chew Daily, New Sabah Times, Rengah Sarawak. Due to the multi-language environment, the English language in Malaysia has evolved into a creole with its own phonology, and grammar. In Malaysia the language spoken by the people are their own mother tongue language however, there is a mixed language called ”Manglish”. It is an unofficial English based language with words originating from Malay, Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese, and Tamil. Manglish means Malaysian English or sometimes Malglish or Mangled English; a unique dialect of English spoken in Malaysia.It is not taught in schools nor in the newspaper, on the streets Manglish is just &#8220;Malaysian English&#8221;.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The “Lah word”; in Malay, &#8216;lah&#8217; is used to change a verb into a command or to soften its tone, particularly when usage of the verb may seem impolite. Examples like “come here”; sounded harsh and commanding, but if it’s like “come here lah”; it encourages you to go there, so the Malaysians implement this idea to improve the politeness of one’s word. When you step into a Malaysian’s house, they will normally invite you in with a warm welcome. They will serve you with some drinks and titbits, of course to appreciate them, just take it or at least a small piece or sip. After your visit, they will walk you out the door. The Malay Culture</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The Malays, made up of more than 60% of Malaysia’s total population. Typical Name: Muhamad (name starter meaning praiseworthy) Zulkifri (real name) bin (bin stands for “son of” and bte stands for “daughter of”) Abu (father’s name) Language: Malay (Bahasa Malaysia), generally all people in Malaysia can speak the Malay language, for the Malays besides speaking Malay alone, they also speak and read Bahasa Jawi, an Arabic language. Religion: Islam</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Place of worship: Mosque<br /> Traditional Shirt: Baju Kurung and Baju Kebaya (for ladies), Baju Melayu (for men), Songkok are normally worn on the head by men as a custom on Fridays when they visit the mosque</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Food: Nasi Lemak, Nasi Kandar, Nasi Briyani, Mee Rojak, Mee Bandung, Roti Jala, Murtabak, Keropok Lekor, Laksam, Satay Celebrates Ramadan which is the month of fasting, during that time Malays would fast and eat only at certain hours around in early morning, Hari Raya Puasa ends of the fasting month), the reason is to ask parents for forgiveness as well as to cleanse their sins. Green packets with money and Arab words imprinted on it are given to children and to others. The Kris is an ancient weapon used during the invasion, and now is an ornament and collectibles found in most Malay Houses.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Kulit Wayang (shadow puppet) controlled by a puppet master, it is a traditional drama played long before the existence of theatre or television and until today there is still shows offered to the public. Wau bulan is a large moon-like kite flown around the beach or on a large field; it is made by local shops spanning 2.5 meters in width and 3.5 meters in length, it is normally heavily decorated with bright colours so as it is high in the sky, it would look pretty. The traditional Joget dance consist of dancers in pairs following a quick tempo. It involves a precise control of movements which involves in changing steps and body weight shifting, requires balance and if successful the dance look gracefully. Dikir barat is another type of traditional dance which is a group of dancers dancing based on poetry, the leader (tukang karut) will randomly alter the poem’s text based on social issues, legal matters, animal lifestyles, government regulations, human foibles and more, he may also adjust the tone, speed and rhythm. The backup singers known as the “awok-awok” sings the same lyrics back to him. During the performance, members of the awok-awok clap and perform rhythmic body movements.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The musical instrument consists of five main instruments, the rebana ibu, the gendang anak, the gong, the maraccas, and the canang. Malays just don’t like white and black as they represent sorrow colours, the Malays are also not allowed to get in contact with pigs and dogs as to religion, they also must pray 7 times a day, they are “imsak”, “subuh”, “syuruk”, “zohor”, “asar”, “maghrib”, and “isyak” praying times, it’s a sin not to attend any of the prayers unless extremely ill. In Malaysia, when a non-Muslim marries a Muslim, he or she must convert to Islam, disregarding the gender and previous religion. Some sayings that, a girl who sings in the kitchen will marry an old husband, if a cat jumped over a dead person, that person will sit up as a zombie, pointing the rainbow make you to lose your fingers, pointing at the moon will cause shortening of the fingers that is used to point it The Indian Culture</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The Indians, made up of more than 15% of Malaysia’s total population. Typical Name: Abimanyu (real name) A/L (son of) Muniyamdum (father’s name) Language: Tamil and Hindu<br /> Religion: Hinduism (Hindus believe Brahman, Vishnu and Shiva are three parts of the “force” God: one creating, one preserving and one destroying). Place of worship: Kuil (temple)<br /> Traditional Shirt: Sari (for ladies), Dhoti (for men), Kurta(for men) Food: Roti canai, Roti telur, Chapatti, Tossai, mostly food with a lot of spice</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Celebrates Deepavali (festival of lights), they light up lights which it means “light up your inner light, may it clear the darkness that’s blocking your way”, it is a spiritual celebration with scented incense and, fire-crackers, feeling of joy, togetherness and regaining hope. Ponggal is another celebration by the Indians, Pongal in Tamil means &#8220;boiling over or spill over.&#8221; The boiling over of milk in the clay pot symbolizes material abundance for the household, the Thai Ponggal, celebrated during harvest time, is traditionally intended to thank the “Sun God” for providing them abundant food, rice. It is one of the most important celebrations as it makes them realize the importance of life. Thaipussam where crowds of people assemble and march to “Batu Caves”, they will have to climb the mountain with stairs and enter the temple within the mountain. There are also “Kavadi” bearers where they are so into meditation that they don’t feel the pain stabbing their body, the kavadi is made up of wood and metal which is decorated with colourful decorations.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The Indians do not eat beef, so don’t ever offer them beef dishes, they appreciate cow as a very important organism as it helps the people to survive by providing milk as food when famine strikes. Their dish normally, has an extensive use of various spices, herbs and other vegetables, that’s what makes the Indian food burning spicy. They use Yoga (meditation) as a discipline to help a person control her or his body, mind, will and adhere to Dharma; moral laws. The Karma, we as humans have the freedom to do anything, may it be doing bad or good to others and to yourself, however there is always a consequence where you will be responsible for your actions, it will also be inflicted on you. So, just be good at all times.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The Chinese Culture</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The Chinese, made up of more than 20% of Malaysia’s total population. Typical Name: Chan (surname) Lek Jian (two Chinese name)<br /> Language: Chinese (Dialect: Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew, Mandarin, Hainanese, Min Bei, Foochow) Religion: Buddhist, Taoist<br /> Place of worship: Temple and Pagoda<br /> Traditional Shirt: Cheongsam (One piece dress for ladies), Samfu (A shirt with long pants for men) Food: Curry mee, Fish ball noodle, Char Kuey Teow, dim sum, Chinese tea, Moon cake (Eat and also gift to other people, during moon cake festival) Celebrates Chinese New Year with lion dance, fire crackers, giving red packets (ang pau) with money­ to each other, paying visit to most relatives, having a family reunion dinner, some grandma or aunty would set up a mah-jong game normally after the dinner,gifting Pomelos or “loke yau”, in Cantonese is a popular gift as the word &#8216;yau&#8217; sounds like the Cantonese word for abundance, and having a dish called Yee Sang; it is a simple mixture of thin slices of raw fish, shredded vegetables, colourful herbs and sauces.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The people would mix it as it is a separated dish with pair of chopsticks, tossing the Yee Sang higher while saying out loud the word ”loh hei”, would bring prosperity­­­­­­­­­­­­ and longevity. Wesak Day is the celebration of the birth of Buddha. Feng Shui is an ancient art related to the law and order of the universe and the power of nature. It&#8217;s a system developed 6,000 years ago based on the elements of astronomy, astrology, geology, physics, mathematics, philosophy, psychology and intuition. People believe through the knowledge of Feng Shui, are able to make themselves more in tune with nature, so that they can be better on their finances, health, and emotions. The Chinese term &#8216;Feng Shui&#8217; simply means &#8216;Wind and Water.&#8217; There is another element known as Yin Yang, Yin and Yang are opposite in nature, for example good and bad, but they are part of nature, they rely on each other, and they can&#8217;t exist without each other. The balance of Yin and Yang is important; any offset will cause the other to become stronger than the other, this will cause trouble. Many people believed that Yin Yang exists in everything.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Summary<br /> So, to summarize, people in Malaysia may have different culture, different ways of doing things, different believes, but they are all united, Malaysia is a country with three major races whereas most countries have only one. Even though there are limitations, but we can tolerate and be considerate to others, I guess this the main point our unity. We do enjoy celebrating others celebration, enjoy other races food, and enjoy dressing up as others. Our government is doing a fantastic job in maintaining this harmony, and being a third world country is not too bad as people wouldn’t strive for work much, heavily compete among each other, instead we live in peace and implement “real culture” not “ideal culture”.</p>

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