What would it be like to live in Malaysia?

Quite street in Penang with old car
Malaysia is not all beaches and jungle, there’s an old peaceful side that attracts many people to relocate there

Move to or live in Malaysia?

Malaysia was always on my list of “possible” places to live in Asia. The primary reasons, for me, was that Malaysia seemed to be calling out for people to relocate there. It seemed living in Malaysia was quite viable, on paper.

Options were open, I took notes, filed them away, and 6 + years later I finally made it here.

Now that I am here, what’s the on the ground reality of a possible life in Malaysia really like?

First, a brief exploration of Malaysia, by way of travel

Writing down Malaysia as a possible option to find a place to live is one thing. Actually arriving and experiencing Malaysia, or any other country for that matter, is another thing.

I start with an idea, some practical knowledge, some experience, and say … “Okay, now lets put all that to the test …”

It’s only when I physically arrive in a place, that I can actually get a gut feel of whether things would be good or not.

Modern day tea leaf picker in Malaysia
Traveling a country is a good way to understand more about how the place works

For me, when I arrived in Sabah, Malaysia, my gut instinct was a good one. I liked the place. Especially Kota Kinabalu. The city is just nice.

It was only when I arrived that I really could understand that Malaysia was split into three very separate parts. And, in more than just the physical sense.

Peninsular, or West Malaysia, Sarawak (Borneo) and Sabah (Borneo), are all part of “Malaysia” but very different from each other.

Traveling Malaysia to get an understanding of its culture, people and lifestyle

Travel in Malaysia is very, very, easy. It’s a tourist hotbed, and as such, everything is presented to you with ease.

This, however, also brings the small challenge of going beyond travel and actually discovering how the real Malaysia works. As opposed to what the hotel receptionist or tour guide is trained to tell you.

And, I very much enjoyed traveling Malaysia. In particular, Sabah which I will return to. I also had to postpone parts of Sarawak for a personal reason**.

Subscribe to the longest way home newsletter**This was a very personal update. To read it you’ll need to subscribe to my travel journals.

Meanwhile, West Malaysia has been very simple to travel. You can go anywhere with relative ease.

This type of infrastructure enabled me to cover a varied range of the country, and get a fair idea of what it was like. Taking with me the knowledge I’ve learned over the years on my search.

Peeling back the layers of Malaysia to reveal its heart & soul

I saw a very good heart in Malaysia. A vast and rich cultural background makes Malaysia the most ethnically diverse country in Asia.

As an outsider, I did however find huge differences between the people of Sabah, Sarawak, and West Malaysia.

Even if you take the people from the south of West Malaysia and compare them to the north there are of course differences. But, these differences, to me, are substantially greater over the three main regions of Malaysia.

And strangely, although great in many respects, all these differences caused my first inkling of trouble in Malaysia.

So while I did see a very good heart in Malaysia, I also saw a troubled soul.

Problems with living in Malaysia

I am mainly going to deal with living in West Malaysia here. The reason is that this seems to be at the heart of many issues. While culturally diverse, Malaysia has serious underlying human rights issues.

Man begging for money in Malaysia
Not everything is blissful in Malaysia

These types of human rights issues don’t make world headlines that often. And, they are vastly complicated. So much so, that many Malaysian’s I’ve spoken to, don’t fully understand what’s happening themselves.

And, I don’t particularly want to debate these issues here. But, for me, they are important when it comes to choosing a place to live, permanently.

The main issue I found here was to do with ethnic racism. I know many Malaysian’s call this by many different names, which is possibly half the problem in itself, but this is the term I am using here.

Not always visible to the tourist, or even the retired couple living in a town. But, stay a while, travel a lot, listen to the different ethnic groups throughout Malaysia, and you’ll quickly discover a lot of anger and outright hatred.

This, and learning of some quite disturbing stories, makes me put my mental brakes on outright living in Malaysia.

Examples of problems in Malaysia

Even as I write this, I know that’s it’s impossible not to offend someone in Malaysia. For if I say that many ethnic Malays or Indians see the huge majority of Chinese Malays in political power as a serious issue. Many Chinese Malays will retaliate and say these people are using religious elements to place blame on them.

There is a multi-cultural vying of power in Malaysia in terms of commerce, politics, religion, education etc.

On the outside, as a tourist everything looks great, but beyond the Malaysia Truly Asia tourism smiles are some serious issues.

Add to this a strange quasi educational / financial / caste system that’s never really spoken about, and you’ll see a glimpse of a modern dark underbelly that runs through Malaysian society today.

Malaysia man playing a violin
This man is Malaysian, has he too many rights? Or not enough?

A modern-day caste hierarchy in Malaysia

This took me a while to finally catch onto. Mainly because of the different interpretations of a caste system in dealing with a country like Malaysia which has a huge Indian population. Wipe your mind of that. And, think about a specific Malaysian caste system that’s not spoken of.

Money talks in Malaysia, as it does in the rest of the world. But here I also noticed presumptions, of which there are of course many exceptions.

But, for the sake of argument here we go with some common perceptions I picked up on from speaking with everyday Malaysians: (keep in mind, these are not my perceptions, but those of Malaysians I’ve spoken with)

  • Chinese Malays with money rule the roost, will keep to their own, and are often linked with still being influenced by China, but argue they have the least rights of all groups in Malaysia.
  • Indian Malays are often accused of misgivings, really promoting their own caste system, and again keep to their own while often promoting Indian only business.
  • Ethnic Malays are often said to have too many rights, are lazy, and generally end up working for other people whilst having more support than any other group.

How bad can all this really be?

A Chinese Malay man was refused entry to university because a greater portion of placements were set aside for ethnic Malays. He moved to Korea for work, married and had a son. He is now being told that his son has to go on a waiting list before he can claim citizenship in Malaysia.

Indian lady from Malaysia
Has letting traditional values from home countries caused Malaysia to lose its way?

An Indian Malay had his house destroyed in a flood. He claims that the government did not help his community out financially as they were busy promoting an election where another ethnic group were seen as being more important in that region.

An ethnic Malay has worked for a Chinese Malay company for over 10 years. He is still paid less than his Chinese counterparts, and says he will never get a promotion here as the Chinese Malay’s will favor their own.

Life in Malaysia as a foreigner

I’ve met quite a few western foreigners either working, or living in West Malaysia. Most, are very happy there. To separate them, and their logic, I split them into two groups.

  1. The foreigner who is working there, but will not live forever in Malaysia
  2. The foreigner who’s married, or retired in Malaysia

I do this, as these are the main people I’ve met in Malaysia.

The working foreigner has taken advantage of Malaysia’s relatively open and free visa regulations (for certain countries only). They are earning money filling a niche, or for a company. Either way, life is good for them as Malaysia is really a beautiful country. And, one day they know they will leave.

The permanent foreigner may be married, or taken one of Malaysia’s many incentives for living here. An example is the government supported “Malaysia My Second Home Programme” (official website).

Here, if you have the money, you can buy a second home in Malaysia, and avail of a special visa to live there near on permanently.

So yes, there are some interesting options to living in Malaysia.

Mosque de Jame in Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia’s multicultural population is to its credit, but will it also be its downfall?

My own view to living in Malaysia

As I mentioned at the start of this article, I had Malaysia listed as a strong potential in Asia. One of only two that I could see on paper.

Once here, the world of Malaysia opened up before me. And, again, it’s a very beautiful place, with a lot of great opportunity and amazing cultures.

Yet, through all this I see something that I personally have always struggled with on this journey. Inequality, bitterness, resentment, corruption, money-centric culture, and something dark which for lack of political correctness I shall just label as racism.

Would I live in Malaysia? Yes. Certainly if an opportunity came about to stay longer in Malaysia I would have no problems in staying for some time. Maybe I could even learn to accept all this.

But, can I say right now that I want to live in Malaysia with all my heart?

No, I can’t.

Simply put: Our hearts are beating to different rhythms.

Moving on from Malaysia

I left Borneo without fully exploring Sabah nor Sarawak in the way that I wanted. This was of no choice of mine. Again, something quite personal happened. I will not make it public here yet, but if you want to know more, it’s on my latest subscriber newsletter (if you get my updates like this one via email already, you’ll get the newsletter too. If not, sign up here).

Unlike many other countries I have traveled, I will return to Malaysia soon.

In summary:

Malaysia has a beautiful heart, but her soul is in anguish

I look forward to returning, writing, photographing and exploring Malaysia very soon. But, for now, this is what I am concluding.

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Coming Soon:

Let’s not delay the inevitable: a train ride away, Bangkok awaits … what will I make of the city backpackers & travelers have raved about for decades?

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101 Replies to “What would it be like to live in Malaysia?”

  1. Oh, so you left Malaysia already.

    Anyway, as sad as it sounds, often this internal racism happens in any country that is populated by people from different racial lineage — not only in Malaysia. In the few places I’ve been, I’d say Kyrgyzstan and — I will not search farther than my own backyard — Philippines.

    1. Sometimes you backyard maybe the best option. Not for me, but when it comes to racism it’s sometimes harder to deal on someone else’s territory.

  2. Hey Dave!
    I was actually in Malaysia for a month (and will be returning in July to hopefully spend another month) and in that one month, I learned so many things about the country and its people. And yeah, I’ve seen what you have seen and have heard the stories. I do like the country a lot though, that’s why I’m returning.

    So you’ll be in BKK next then, huh? See you in Thailand hopefully! Will return there soon after my foodie trip in Penang.

    1. Hi Cristine, there’s no doubt Malaysia is a great place to visit. It’ll be interesting to see if you prefer the food in Malaysia, or Thailand? :)

  3. Living in Malaysia for several months, I have heard the same stories and comments on the different races living here. A question which comes to my mind all the time is… Really, who is a Malaysian? For as long as every Malaysian have to fill-up RACE in government forms.. for as long as RACE is printed in every Malaysian passport… the division and inequality will always be there… 1Malaysia will be a dream. Just a few days ago, I read a current issue on the newspaper. A Chinese and Indian Malaysian couple have to put OTHERS as race for their child. I guess it is not that simple to be born in Malaysia and just be a Malaysian. It’s true that it’s important for each individual to keep and value their roots, their beliefs, their religion. But it shouldn’t be something that would make you uncomfortable to stay in your own country of birth because you may not have the same rights as others born in the same country as you.

    Malaysia is indeed a beautiful country. I’ve been back for more than a week and as always, happy to be back. However, just like you, it would be difficult for me to consider Malaysia as my home. If its citizens feel they have less rights because of their race, then how can a foreigner like me ever live in peace when at the back of my mind, there’s this fear that I have zero rights to be here in the first place.

    1. I have to agree with you about the race option being printed on government type forms. In some countries this is not allowed. Just like asking if you are married, single, or your religion. I “think” in Malaysia this exists for many of the reasons I mention in the article, unfortunately. Why someone like that child will have to be identified as “Other” is beyond me. It’s insulting in my view. Let them work and actually upgrade their databases to accept more than just “Other” otherwise, remove that option.

      But, it’s not our country Marnie! It’s up to Malaysians themselves to decide their fate. But, yes I agree wholeheartedly about you point of in if they can’t get it for themselves, then what hope has the foreigner?!

      Stay well ;)

  4. I was watching TV dua a few weeks ago and saw Malaysia’s national campaign ad: Satu Malaysia. I thought to myself, what a farce…and for the reasons you mentioned. Together, as in adjacent to each other-cultures, that is-but separate, because each is the bad guy.

    My opinion differs from the expats you interviewed. I think foreigners have it worse in terms of racism and ethnocentrism. If the land’s natives can’t get along, what hope is there for the non-native? There isn’t. 7 months of Malaysia living will prove it to you as it has for me.

    1. Good points about what hope do non-natives here have. I’ve only experienced some negative racism here. Again, it was race oriented. A sad thing to hear as a tourist, coming from a Malaysian.

  5. Hai there…

    I’m a Malaysian living in NZ now. And, am following your really interesting travel blog.

    However, there’s a few things here that I need to set right.

    Firstly is the use of

    Chinese Malay’s

    Indian Malay’s

    Ethnic Malay’s

    I am not talking about the context you have gave above. I do agree on that quite abit of it.

    However, you got to define the above properly. There’s no….

    Chinese Malay

    Indian Malay

    Ethnic Malay

    because Malay itself is a race in Malaysia. You probably should have use Chinese Malaysian, Indian Malaysian and so on.

    Please have a look at this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malays_%28ethnic_group%29

    And, whom are you refering as the ethnic Malay? Because even the Malays who claim themselves to be the ethnic group are not the original ethnic group.

    It is an interesting post, however, I think it is always hard for an outsider to fully understand what is trully going on especially — on the racism part that had been the recent propaganda. It had never been as bad as it has been now.

    I dont think it is wise and fair to write such a post based on a few Malaysian opinions. It is not representative of the voice of the rest of the Malaysian. And, how would such a post reflect Malaysia to the rest of the world?

    I agree on the “Inequality, bitterness, resentment, corruption, money-centric culture, and something dark which for lack of political correctness” that you had mentioned. But then again many other countries have the same issues. Which country in the world is of total fairness to everybody?

    I’m sorry. It’s just hard to explain the complication of Malaysian’s relationship in such a short REPLY post. There’s just too many factors to take into account to write just in 1 post. You probably need to start tracing back the whole history to see where it starts.

    I guess for me the only disturbing part was your categorizing of the people of Malaysia. I get that alot too over here in NZ where just called Malaysian, Malay. The problem is Malay itself is a race/group in Malaysia.

    p/s: where do you then categorise me as a Malaysian being born from a mixed parentage?


    1. Hello J!

      I’ll try to address some of your points as best I can.

      In relation to the Term “Chinese Malay” etc. As another commentator replied, I was indeed using the term “Malay” as an abbreviation of “Malaysian”.

      “Ethnic Malays” in this context would be people of original Malaysian decendency. And yes, I am aware that many people will have issues with that alone. But if you don’t make an outline when writing something like this, then you’ll be here writing a novel. As mentioned in the article, I noted that some of the terminology I used would not sit well with everyone. This is life, and these are my observations from what I’ve seen of it in Malaysia.

      “I dont think it is wise and fair to write such a post based on a few Malaysian opinions.” Similar to the above. What should I do, hold a national poll. Not possible. This article is based on what I have experience here through my own observations and experiences, and those I have met.

      “And, how would such a post reflect Malaysia to the rest of the world?” Someone else wrote in the comments here a better reply to this than my one to you. But, in a nutshell, it’s not my job to promote Malaysia! These are my reflections on Malaysia, people are free here to agree or disagree with them, and add their own view points.

      “where do you then categorise me as a Malaysian being born from a mixed parentage?” I don’t. I don’t like to class people based on race, religion or finances.

      As you’ve noted yourself many of the topic within this article can be huge. Indeed, many books have been written on these subjects. Such is the nature of emotion and practicalities that they bring up. But, if you don’t speak, you’ll never be heard. And, this is after all my journal / observation etc.

      Many thanks for your comments, points and views!

  6. hi Dave..

    so, it’s the end of your journey in Malaysia, I wish you to hv a safe journey beyond.
    I Appreciate your honesty, there are many underlying issues in malaysia, but it is always a home, at least for me.
    Bon voyage.. I hope to see you in the future, n hopefully you’ll find your ‘home’ soon!

  7. When the British colonised South East Asia, they typically based themselves on an island (Hong Kong, Singapore, Penang), they brought in Chinese to improve the trade links, when they thought that the locals were lazy they brought Indians in to do the labour (Malaysisa, Singapore). That is why there is such an ethnic mix in former British colonies and they are more successful and advanced (Singapore, HK) than other nearby places. They also ensured that taxes were low of course and it was all part of the British Empire that comprised nearly 40% of the world

    1. Interesting historical references about British colonial history PalawanMartin! I do enjoy reading and learning about this side of history. It’s a little sad that to get good references I often have to refer back to British or Euro historical points of reference. Would like to read something, well structured, from the Asian side of things too sometime!

  8. I don’t think that a visitor knows Malaysia unless they have been to the East coast , the west coast is advanced and westernised, Penang is almost 1st world.

    Only 30-40 km from the coast and you will find another world, the Muslim world, virtually all the women wear headscarves, the food is all roti and chicken, there are Majids everywhere, bus drivers stop at roadsides prayer places for afternoon prayer.

    In short it is very conservative, this is the REAL Malaysia, where women are stoned for infidelity, the further east you go the more conservative it becomes. The people seem a little bit hostile to westerners, but only a little. There are a few chinese faces and restaurants, where you can buy alcohol. But yes if you are basing your vews of Malaysia on the West Coast/KL/Penank, then you are missing the ultra conservative parts that provide the bulk of the country.

    Did you know that the Chinese Malaysians must pay much more for properties and other things ? It is a wannabee first world country, but has a long long way to go before it becomes a TRUE advanced country like Singapore.

    Personally i think i think it is very dull, uptight sort of place, i am always relieved to get to Thailand or Singapore. Yes i agree sooner or later there will be race riots there again.

    Ah Thailand, i will love to read your views about there. The first thing you notice when you cross the border from Malaysia are the smiles!

    1. Valid points about not visiting East Malaysia Palawan Martin. I know after 2 years in West Africa, and PI that one can never see all of a country or even a city no matter the years one spends there. I’ll have to come up with a term for that type of scenario as it comes back to haunt me on my posts. Need to nip these things in the bud!

      You’re right of course though. Malaysia is a vast country, even on Peninsular side of things. Yes, I know about the Chinese Malaysians having to pay more for property. Didn’t have any face to face knowledge about it though, so didn’t mention it.

      For all it’s oil, an advancements Malaysia does indeed have a long way to go in many respects.

      I can’t say I found Malaysia dull, or uptight. Though I do get what you mean. It is far more conservative than many other places. Not always a bad thing. I just see it as having a troubled soul with so many divides beyond a velvet surface. I enjoyed my time there. I just hope they can get their act together rather than see things implode. Maybe that’s what I am thinking. Malaysia’s like a pressure cooker, who knows what it’s cooking though!

      See you in Thailand ;)

    2. At least most malaysians are polite, humble, kind, honest and helpful than your fake smiled thais, a smile which highly probably because they want something from you!

  9. Having just left my university, a place that felt more like home to me than my ‘real’ home ever has, I can really resonate with what you’re doing here. I think you’re on an incredible journey and you’re writing about it wonderfully. I really hope you find your home. :)

  10. Malaysia operates under a form of apartheid — as Ian Buruma wrote so eloquently in the NEW YORKER. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/05/18/090518fa_fact_buruma

    Having lived there for five years in the 1990s, hearing someone of his experience and expertise actually declare that felt like a relief.

    I’d agree with PalawanMartin about the depiction of the country as uptight and dull — crossing into Singapore or Thailand always felt like a decompression, to me. It’s powder keg of a place.

    1. It’s certainly a place run differently than what many people see on the surface. A powder keg, a pressure cooker. I hope it does not go down like that. I really don’t.

  11. what i love is that you look into the deeper issues of culture wherever you travel. for indeed, racism is alive and well almost everywhere (do we even NEED to say almost?). but sometimes, it sticks out more than others. as one who is considering malaysia, this is definitely something to keep in mind. thanks, dave.

    1. Thanks Jessie. Going beyond the cover story of Travel is something I enjoy, and must do on my journey. I’m very glad you enjoy what I do here. Keep the mind open! ;)

  12. Aside from ethnic racism, I also think that religious racism also exists in Malaysia. I’ve read of reports of Christian churches being torched. Seems like it’s not an ideal country for somebody who isn’t Muslim.

    1. For what it’s worth, I found race differences to be more spoken of here, than religious issues. Then again, both can be related to each other. Either-way, Malaysia is not the only country that has difficulties with these issues.

  13. First of all, you are an excellent marketer. You’ve convinced me to sign up for your newsletter by promising secret, personal info! I’m hoping a photo of you is located somewhere in the email I will shortly receive ;)

    Not having been to Malaysia, I can’t agree or disagree with your conclusions. Based on the comments, it seems like you’ve struck a chord with people who have lived there.

    I follow several Malaysian foodie/travel blogs that present the country as a wealthy, modern state (with a penchant for Western cuisine) but I also see news headlines about discrimination and some questionable laws. I’m curious to go to Malaysia and experience it for myself.

    1. Hi Leslie, somethings are better kept offline for now. And, no it’s not a photo I am referring to ;)

      Yes, it seems a chord has indeed been struck! In more ways than one. What lies beneath the glossy photos is often least spoken about for many reasons.

      I hope you make it to Malaysia yourself one day. Aside from the great food, there’s some nice street art here too :)

  14. Hi Dave,

    First of all may I congratulate you on this find piece of writing. Honestly speaking it’s a better read here than on a popular travel mag I bought yesterday.

    Secondly, as I have been reading your posts over the past few months from Malaysia I have noticed quite a few Malaysians commenting here. Now, with this article where you open up your points on their society, they fall silent. Except for one bloke who obviously did not read this post very well. Yet, at the same time you have brought out a host of non Malaysians who have all noted similar findings. This alone seems to confirm what you have “dared” to write about here.

    These are my observations as a regular weekly reader, and may I also add, fan. Not a fan in terms of you’re some kinda Brad Pitt, but a fan in terms of your talent in writing posts like this. I simply can’t find another place with content like this.

    Now before you go getting a big head, I will stop the praise. Keep up the good work, looking forward to more.

    1. Now hang on Stuart, give us a couple of days to process before condemning the entire lot of us! I’m still processing Dave’s thoughts, myself – which isn’t at all dissimilar to my own, and I hold a Malaysian passport.

      There is an element of perceived rejection (of self, of country, of a national identity) in feedback like this, and no-one should be too surprised that a group of people would go .. woah, hang on a minute .. There will be a variety of reactions.

      I’m currently trying to articulate my own, and I suspect the other usual Malaysian commenters are doing the same.

      1. Liv, I won’t hold my breath on this one. I know there is a big difference between a photo of Malaysian chow and this. But I don’t think I am so far from the mark here.

        I’ve subscribed to comments. Let’s see.

        1. Maybe they don’t comment because they are scared of speaking openly? Reading about it now

    2. Hi Stuart,

      Firstly thank you for the kind words, no big head here!

      In relation to Malaysian’s commenting there. People are free to comment or not, for whatever reasons. It’s not for my to say why or why not. Today there seems to be several Malaysian comments. I think with regular commentators, people have lives, and can’t always rush to comment. And, as you pointed out it’s easier to drop a quick comment about food, than something like the topics in this article. Or, as Liv has pointed out, maybe this hits home to “Malaysians”, and so commenting for them, is a lot harder on such subject manners.

      But, who knows! We are all individuals, so maybe you have hit on some points too.

  15. Dave, I think the description of your time in Malaysia is an honest one and although I have never spent as much time in the country as yourself. So there is no way I could make a descision on if I could live there, It was certainly a country I quite enjoyed.

    As you travel slowly and drawn out (the way I used to travel and miss dearly), I think you get a complelty different perspective on your destination than most. Lets hope you get back to Sabah soon, as although it was a place I passed through in a few weeks, I did manage to see quite a bit as I hired a car and drove all over the state. It’s a real hidden gem.

    So your off to Thailand mate. Well your in for an interesting time there with the swarms of travellers. Something you probably havent seen since possibly India?

    I just wonder in all your searching you will discover that the world is in no way perfect and you may struggle to find your utopia, and in the end you will go full circle and eventually return home again? (where ever that is? is that public?).

    Just a side note. I love the old man playing the Violin. I think it’s one of the best images you’ve posted in the last year.

    Good luck in Thaland mate.

    1. Looking forward to Sabah again myself. Check out the newsletter, it might be next. Not sure I want to drive around much. I simply like the “state”, and the people there. That said, I feel an organ-u-tan photo is needed!

      Thanks for the comment on the violin man, he was a nice guy. No English, but we communicated with good, ha ha.

      Thailand … hmmm

  16. thanks for an honest opinion. as a malaysian i think its important to hear about this thoughts echoing in a travelor who has just been to my country for a few months. i am sure you are well aware of having this article being read as a very one sided opinion as you have put in lots of effort in clarifying that this is your opinion, and these are the people you’ve met, and i hope that other readers will be as open minded as well.

    personally, i dont mind hearing negative things about my own country. we have our problems and although we are not proud of it, we are aware of them. being secretive and shrouding from negative press is a giant step backward. so thank you for posting this. you always wake up faster when someone else slap your face.

    however i have to agree with J in suggesting that the term ‘chinese malay’ and ‘indian malay’ are wrong. malay is a race itself in malaysia, and the correct term should be ‘chinese malaysian’ etc. citizens from malaysia are not malay (ethnic group) but rather malaysian. this might perhaps also shed light on how subtle differences cannot be learn by just having been to a country for a short period :)

    1. Chinese Malay etc, I think that is what he originally intended. He just didn’t know the term for a citizen of Malaysia. He has no proof reader to check things like this and also check the many grammatical errors. He has already mentioned the reason why he makes so many errors.

      But, I always get a little annoyed when i see incorrect use of the ” ‘s “, Malaysians is the PLURAL of Malaysian, but Malaysian’s is SOMETHING BELONGING TO A MALAYSIAN OR a short form of “Malaysian is”.

      I think Malaysia is dull, as i have stated previously, but the people are …. OK. They are just not “respectful” like in Thailand and Philippines and are frozen by the effects of a stifling religion. I think that the lack of respect is a good thing, the old hierarchies and associated endemic corruption depends on everyone showing respect to more powerful people. Personally i have found many pleasant Malaysians on my travels there, and as long as the economy steams ahead like it is doing, there will be few problems with race.

      1. – PalawanMartin – Thanks for stepping in there about the grammar. You basically hit the nail on the head. Glad to have long-term readers who know the background to speak up here. I was simply abbreviating the term “Malaysian” to “Malay”, and see from the comments that several people wanted to pick up on it.

        Also correct about the grammar. Not my strong point, I do try, I think it’s better than one year ago. When people point it out, I do make an effort to pick up on those things. And, I don’t mind people writing to let me know, otherwise I won’t improve, no matter the excuses about dying laptops, bad writing conditions on the road etc.

        I’ll do my best to correct the grammar in a short while (terrible interest at the moment). But will leave the Malay/Malaysian references for now as the comments mentioning them wouldn’t make much sense. Thanks again.

    2. Hello Sheah,

      Yes, as PalawanMartin pointed out, and I just confirm in a comment to J, I was simply abbreviating the term “Malaysian”. Obviously, this came across incorrectly in terms of other reading. I won’t go back and correct it, as there are comments relating to it. But, thank you for bring it up.

      It’s also good to hear from a Malaysian who doesn’t mind negative aspects in relation to their country. This, I found in Malaysia kept coming up in many different scenarios. I didn’t write about it here, but in day to day things, I noted that many people in Malaysia don’t seem to like criticism, and often “bite back” when criticized! Maybe it was purely my take on things, but that’s what I came across.

      So yes, it’s great to hear that you also believe that unless people speak out about their findings, things don’t get addressed!

      In relation to your point about the length of time one spends in a country. Well, in my experience, you can spend over 2 years in a country, and longer, and still be told you don’t know anything about a place. So the only answer to this is the one I gave above, if one doesn’t speak out, things never get addresses, right or wrong :)

      1. Hai The Longest Way Home,

        Just refering back to my above post and in replying your reply.

        1stly – I do not in any way come to your site with the intention to offend anyone especially not you. I’ve been a huge fan on your site for some time now.

        2ndly – I am not here to correct your use of “Malay” or abbreaviation of “Malaysian”. I wrote what I wrote with the intention that you might want to know what the local especially those who are not Malays would feel if you call them malay. I guess this part indirectly justified the RACISM part that is on-going in Malaysia. (Sadly! It’s very much the tool the government is abusing right now…) You can try experimenting using the Malay with other races while you are in Malaysia and see what’s the reaction would be like. =)

        3rdly – I do agree on the part where Malaysian are very sensitive to criticism. Nevermind !! — Long story short….my intention was strictly just in sharing Malaysian point of view when it comes to the use of MALAY. Like you said, unless people speak out about their findings or thinking, things don’t get addressed! And, ppl will continue to use the word Malay wrongly with Malaysian.


        1. Hi J,

          No problems at all! I’m not offended, and never was :)

          I’m also glad you brought up the “Malay” terminology, and you are correct! I’m just leaving it up there to point out that you are correct when people read the comments.

          If you, and others don’t object to me changing the main article text from “Chinese Malay” to “Chinese-Malaysian” Then I am happy to do so! Just let me know!


          1. Hai Dave,

            Glad that you are not offended.

            and…No..it’s totally alright…you don’t have to change it…Like you said…if ppl are interested…they might find all these comments posted interesting….. LOL…

            on the lighter side…. you should visit borneo (Sarawak) not Sabah…here, it’s totally different from West Malaysia.

            Cheers. Hope you have a good trip… and maybe — home, someday somewhere around the world…and i’ll be following your posts…


          2. HI Dave,

            You are really dedicated, replying to all of us! I think J had struck the right note here. I suppose all the political problems going on back home just make it a tad more sensitive for non-malay to be addressed as malay. having been oversea for a few years now, i can appreciate that its unintentional, just like how british is always shortened to brits.

            i think people should definitely talk about it, especially internationally seeing that there’s a huge censor with the media back home. i used to hate talking about politics and find them offensive sometimes but its the only way forward, so keep up the good work!

          3. Hi Sheah,

            Thanks for you understanding, point relevant points. Ultimately I think you are correct, I think people should talk more about such issues. I was hoping to hear more constructive ideas such as your own. But, then again, I’m glad many people can also read things like this. I think it’s the only way we, no matter the race, religion, or nationality, can move forward.

            Thanks for the comment!

  17. I have not been to Malaysia. But, from your posts about the country (and food) I now really want to go. In fact, of all the places in Asia, Malaysia is top of my list.

    If you go back, can you visit a beach, please! Just curious :)

    I’ve been reading comments here too. Hmm, having not been I cannot say much. But to repeat Leslie a little, you seem to have struck a cord with Malaysians. Many of whom are writing about terms you used to name people, and not about resolving any issues. Just my own observations.

    1. There are some quiet nice beaches in Penang island, Anna, where Dave was last. The bizarre thing about Malaysian beaches is the fact that as well as western “liberal” tourists, there are a large number from Araqb countries, even Saudi Arabia. So you may have the strange sight of a European lady in a bikini next to a young Arab woman in the sea completely covered head to toe in black costume. Beaches are nice in Penang and Langkawi island that is a duty free island , but much more expensive.
      Dave completely missed the East coast of Malaysia, which is ANOTHER WORLD ENTIRELY from the west coast strip. This area is STRICT Muslim , but it has the best beaches ! Perhentian islands too have great beaches and diving. Maybe Malaysians can inform us about best beaches, but that is my experience

      1. Hi!

        Wouldn’t say that beaches on Penang are that nice. If you are unlucky the water (and the beaches) might be a bit polluted there.

        Nicest beaches IMHO:
        Pulau Pangkor (just off the West Coast)
        East Coast and Perhentians
        Parts of Sabah and off the coast of Sabah

        Malaysia is not a classical “beach only” location though. There are better places for that. What I like is that you can combine beach with a big number of other activities.

        I’ll be back in december :)

    2. Hi Anna, Glad you want to go to Malaysia!

      Yes, I will do my best to find you a beach when I go back to Malaysia. But, I think PalawanMartin might offer you better suggestions than me, as I’m not really a “beach” person ;)

  18. I love Malaysia! Too bad we won’t be neighbours no more.. but whilst you’re no longer a stone’s throw, you are still a boarder away! woohoo! see you in Thailand dude:P

  19. For what it’s worth, I don’t think this is particularly one-sided. I think it’s a fairly accurate perception of Malaysia in general, West Malaysia in particular, after you’ve peeled away the tourism layer. I haven’t found the sentiments that you’ve described to be that prevalent on Borneo, though I’ve been on the peripheral with ethnic racism, in that the heritage I inherited from my father is not perceived in too much of a positive light when I was a child.

    What you’ve written about is not news to Malaysians, or it really shouldn’t be. If it is, I would question where their heads and eyes have been all their lives!

    But change is whistling in the winds, it’s gearing up. I saw it with my peers in my home state election this year, and by most accounts, my generation is demanding change. With a general election coming up (I think it’s next year), it’ll be vastly interesting to see and read the reactions from the mainstream press, the alternative online press, the Facebook conversations, the heated debates in local coffeeshops.

    Unfortunately, I’m no longer that invested in Malaysia. I’d love to see change in the country, it’ll be wonderful for my friends and family who live there. But it’s unlikely I would return to live there, (visit yes, I miss the food and Mum and Dad) – it’s like what you said – hearts beating to different rhythms.

    1. Liv, I would agree with you about not finding such strong feelings in Borneo. Most of what I picked up on there was in relation to autonomy. Another serious issue I know, but it was discussed with fever for independence, justice, and finances as opposed to race or religion. And, although it does have some bad elements, as many causes do pick up, I found it more mainstream than these other issues in West Malaysia.

      I’ll bow out of political discussions, as I do believe it’s not my place as a “tourist” to discuss such things. That said, there are others, within this context of “race” who will argue the two are indeed intertwined.

      I do hope Malaysia will not go down the physical road of troubled race issues. My first published article from West Malaysia was all about the multi-cultural aspects of KL which I enjoyed and had great hope for. I leave with a final article from West Malaysia that embodies the same multi-cultural aspects, but with a different hope. Not for myself in finding home there. But for Malaysian’s themselves to be at peace with the notion of living in a multi-cultural society, peacefully, and with equality for all.

      1. Politics + race have been intertwined since independence! Maybe even longer. I think there have been attempts to keep race out of it, but it always seems to come roaring back. For some reason, maybe ’cause I’m more attuned to it now, it seems more pronounced in the last few years.

        I’ve always wondered why Malaysians aren’t one the way Indonesians are. This is very simplistic example – but every Indonesian I’ve met, no matter what their ethnicity, speaks Indonesian fluently (and like a bullet train, so fast is their cadence). Their sense of national identity is so strong that ethnicity becomes secondary. Indonesian Chinese I’ve met rarely speak their own Chinese dialects – they speak to each other in Indonesian. Mind you, I never know they’re Chinese until they tell me – their names are Indonesian. I find that utterly amazing. What happened to cause this?

        I don’t think I can say it’s quite the same for Malaysians. We’re so fixed on maintaining our unique cultural differences that there is no united national identity (if there is, please someone enlighten poor deluded me). A case of let’s keep everyone happy, let’s compromise, perhaps? A precedent was perhaps set when Tunku Abdul Rahman and others set about the business of gaining independence from Great Britain? My knowledge of post war history in Malaysia is shamefully sketchy.

        Gosh, it bears thinking now.

        Sabah & Sarawak, definitely, in comparison is a little more tolerant, race-wise. Instead, ‘we’ get riled up about West Malaysians coming and poking their noses in our business, especially after bearing the brunt of comments along the lines of, “Gosh, do you still live in treehouses over there?”

  20. A small warning about Thailand !

    Very shortly in Thailand there will be elections, there will be a period of political turbulence. Be very very careful, especially in Bangkok and North Thailand !

    I suppose that you read about the troubles last year in Thailand ? , maybe not if you lived in self-absorbed Philippines where “world” news means news about Philippinos overseas, hehe.

    I lived in Isaan, Thailand last year, and there was a 9pm curfew that lasted 2 months, the local town hall was burned to the ground and 2000 soldiers appeared on the streets. In Bangkok the biggest shopping mall was burned down.

    “Forewarned is forearmed”

    It is good to read about the recent history of the place. It is the usual power battles between billionaires, of course. The reds/left will win the election and this will cause reaction of the powerful elite and army, maybe some excitement for you ?

    1. Thanks for the heads up PalawanMartin!

      Yes, I’ve been keeping an eye on the news. Hard to tell what’s happening on the ground though.

      Perhaps waiting all this time in Penang had nothing to do with the food after all!

      Let’s see what happens over the next week or so.

      1. But on a personal level, the most dangerous thing that you will come across on a day to day level in Thailand is ….. Thai women. If you DO need a warning about them, then you will get a very good lesson from the Bangkok Water Buffalo University of extreme female bad behaviour.

        Yes all hetrosexual men must prepare to get a good lesson about females there, especially the nice guys.

        Never believe anything they say, don’t give them any money for “sick buffalos” or anything

        Martin PhD Water Buffalo University

  21. Very interesting post Dave and insightful comments! Having spent 6 months this past winter in Penang, I have to disagree with the “anguish” “troubled soul” and darkness that you are seeing.

    Not that there aren’t some of the problems that you are talking about, but in our experience and considering how VERY diverse the country is/people are, I think Malaysia is doing pretty good. One finds a “dark underbelly” in every country along with corruption and inequities etc.

    We were recently in Bhutan which is perhaps one of the happiest countries on earth, but even there, problems exist. I’ve been to about 80 countries and we’ve been to 42 on 5 continents on our family world tour so far & I’ve yet to find a total utopia or a country without some “darkness”.

    Like you, I’m not an expert on Malaysia and have yet to see the whole country ( we’ll do more immersing and exploring this coming winter or two) but I also think we have a bit of a unique view because our child speaks Mandarin and goes to one of the largest Mandarin schools in Penang ( with mostly locals but also some Asians from Thailand, Korea,Indonesia, Singapore, China etc).

    It’s true we get a closer look at the ethnic Chinese Malaysians ( most send their kids to Mandarin schools and almost all speak/read/write Mandarin although it is rarely their first language and most speak several as that is important for survival in Malaysia) but we have friends from every race and type there.

    It’s extremely common to see mixed marriages between different ethnic Malaysians which I think says a lot about the levels of acceptance. Many of our best friends are ethnic Chinese Malaysians married to ethnic Indian Malaysians ( and not from Penang originally). We are often in situations there where we are the only Caucasians and I am overweight, yet we are always treated well.

    We hear lots of stories ( from many sources) about how growing up they respected and mixed with each other’s cultures..all 3 and witness it regularly. Sure there is some separation and prejudice, but we have found the people…every type in Malaysia to be extremely kind and generous.

    One asks for direction on a bus and 20 people ( of every kind) will answer you and try to help. Over and over, people have gone out of their way to help us…every Malaysian race type.

    It is interesting that our Thai friends prefer Penang to Thailand…less tourists, no “king stuff”, etc. Malaysia is the only place in Asia where a foreigner can buy a landed property…not just an apartment. There are also great benefits through their off shore banks even for a one person business ( like where AirAsia is based).

    One Thai friend who lived in Chaing Mai for 12 years left because even though their daughter was born there & they contributed mightily with their business, their child had no rights there.

    My 83 year old mother visited, toured and stayed with us for 6 weeks in Penang and she also was treated with great respect and kindness.

    Any place where there is total acceptance of a bikini and a full black burka side by side on a beach like Langkawi says a LOT about the high level of tolerance in Malaysia. Sure there are fanatics in Malaysia like any country, but the over all day to day acceptance is higher than most places IMHO ( and we are rarely on the tourist circuit, but neither are we expats or locals).

    That said, I don’t think we will make Penang our permanent home ( or any where in Asia) and I thoroughly disagree with the commenter who said Penang was almost 1st world. There are some first world things in Penang, but it is absolutely not first world.

    I think to really know a country one has to spend many years and also speak the language ( or in Malaysia’s case…several languages). Certainly it is a very different experience living in rural Alabama than NYC or rural Iowa and LA…each being a whole different world and the same is true of any country. Hard to judge in a few months time.

    We’re in Barcelona now and consider it and also a small village in Andalusia as two of our “homes” as we’ve returned regularly on our going-on- 6-years of non-stop world travel…both Spain but both very different realities.

    I am keeping an open mind about Malaysia and Asia. There are pros and cons to every place and country, but so far I think Penang is one of the best places in Asia. Not just for the food either, ( we mostly cook our own) it is the people, in my mind, that makes it special.

    1. Hello Jeanne,

      Thanks for the very detailed comment. Indeed many valid points raised. To touch on some points not raised in the article of in other comments.

      While I agree that fully understanding a country by way of language, time in country etc is vital. On my own journey one can only do this to a certain extent. Examples being that in over 2 years spent in The Philippines, and even if I spent 50, people would still say “you don’t get it.” This is where I will disagree. I’ve built up a vast knowledge of what I am looking for, and the various aspects therein. As such, I can pretty much tap into any place straight away. And, if I don’t I’ll certainly admit it.

      Likewise for the size of Malaysia, as noted in the article I dealt mainly with West Malaysia, from south to north along my own path, not encompassing every little town. Which, is impossible. And, ultimately futile. Just like if you ask a Malaysian what’s it like to live there, they will tell you something that’s based on their own experiences, aspects, and knowledge.

      I’m sure through your own travels you’ll have come across the situation whereby it’s fruitless to ask a local about a “certain” subject matters. Why, because what’s relative to them, may not be relative to you in certain contexts. A common theory many “travelers” don’t get, but I hedge my bets you’ve seen and experienced this yourself.

      And yes, I fully agree with you about keeping an open mind on Asia, or for that matter anywhere. Places and people are constantly changing. I’m sure if you return to Penang, after some time, you’ll see this, if you enjoy peeling back the layers. Likewise once you get to travel in the other vast parts of Malaysia, you’ll see just how incredibly diverse this nation is.

      Enjoy your return to Spain!

  22. Having lived and worked most of my life in Asia, including Malaysia, I would like to point out the following. Asians, in general, do not like criticism.

    Call it a cultural attribute or flaw, it is there. And noted by the general avoidance to the key points brought up in this post.

    Instead they have focused on grammar, and national pride. The latter being quite ironic.

    Avoidance due to embarrassment, shyness are all heaped into their argument for not directly addressing the true points raised here.

    I have witnessed racism in Malaysia both towards Malaysians, and towards westerners. What they say behind closed doors would be shocking to many.

    1. I’m hearing you with the criticism Julie. Not just in Malaysia though. And, some might have issues with personal view points, and take it as criticism. However it is interesting to see some people not discussing the issues raising, but focusing on other areas.

  23. I’m sure Malaysia would be a nice place to live. What is important is if you feel home and secured of the new environment then I guess happiness will flow through. Just put your heart into it, you will learn to love it eventually.

  24. Whoa….. all of you got to take the chill pill. This is something very sensitive and for people who have lived and visited here for no less than 5 years should understand and know the political and multi-cultural issues that we face day in and day out. It’s easy to pass judgement and bang the hammer just from an experience but it’s more to that that what you may perceive.

    I mean, it’s all good that this is your own perspective but again, you are wrong in many areas you highlighted here. The good and bad, you may leave a negative impression on the curious while it’s only a point-of-view. Again, a person needs to fully understand the situation here before even thinking of passing any kind of judgement. By the way Dave, they are ‘Malaysian Chinese’ and not Chinese Malay or Malay Chinese. This alone is a very wrong description of the race and just asking for it. (This is the first basic example of understanding a culture of a country) Your statement “I was indeed using the term “Malay” as an abbreviation of “Malaysian” does not go well after publishing the article. Sorry but I have to highlight this VERY clearly.

    It’s like going to Thailand for one month and trying to understand the kingdom and how things work. The sad and shameless truth is how foreigners stay in Thailand for a few years and think they know it all. Does not work that way and I hope travelers in future would be more careful in assessing cultures and races from different countries. If you’re unsure about a culture, you need to fully understand them carefully before passing any form of judgment. This is Asia, people are sensitive and yes, people are laid back or easy to deal with. But then again I quote a foreigner friend who has lived in Malaysia for the last 35 years – Even HE cannot come to a conclusion to how things are here then alone pass any form of judgement. He plays by the rules and lives a simple and easy life.

    My final point is that while most travelers may think they know a country better just because they spoke to a few locals, you will always be wrong at some point. Remember, you are the guest and traveler here. I’m sure if an Asian went to the USA for a few months and passed some sort of overview or personal point-of-view, he/she would have been slammed left, right and center. Some topics are best left alone unless you want to be the ‘different one’ out there.

    I understand how some of you out there may have certain views and knowledge of Malaysia but I beg you, please do your homework before you reply with your basic experiences. This article was ‘asking for it’ but I will leave it as it is because it can generate a lot of animosity among many locals.

    Ps. For the Anons out there, please don’t fuel the fire. You know what I mean.

    1. The majority of what you’ve mentioned, has been raised, and addressed before. So I won’t rehash it again at length.

      So long as people are not making personal attacks, they are free to express their viewpoints here. You P.S. is borderline provocation.

      David, in relation to the term “Malaysian Chinese” that you suggest is the correct term. A Malaysian has already commented and said “Chinese Malaysian” is the correct term. Not only that, but within the Wikipedia entry presented to me sub-ethnic terminology makes many references to “regional” Malays. Then again, when in Sabah, I had people there, quite strongly, tell me they preferred to be known as Sabahans, rather than Malaysians. So much so, I got an email from one “Sabahan friend, who was disappointed I did not mention Sabahans in this article. My answer in that case is simple: before condemning someone else for using an abbreviation (correct or wrong): perhaps “Malaysians” themselves should first agree on what they would like to be called!

      In relation to your “passing judgement” references. Who’s passing “judgement”? To many people, being told they are passing judgement, it’s actually seriously insulting and offensive. No one here is directly passing judgement on anyone. These are opinions, viewpoints, and experiences.

      Your comments on tourists/expats and them knowing a country based on time spent there certainly has basis. However, as stated elsewhere in my social integration articles. It’s a two way road. One could also argue that tourisim in Malaysia, and projects like the second home one, must also do a good job in educating people on these issues. Otherwise, people will never learn more, than just paying out foreign currency. Then again, many Malaysians don’t seem to have the answers either. However, in reference to your U.S.A point, many people there do believe in the freedom of opinion and expression. Hence the term “freedom of speech”, which is taken seriously in the U.S.A. How is it doing Malaysia.

      I’ll finish by again pointing out, no single article like this can cover all the bases. “What would it be like to live in Malaysia?” These are my view points from what I have experienced both in Malaysia, and from the knowledge I’ve garnered elsewhere.

      What’s disturbing, and saddening to me, is that some people have been quick to condone the “foreigner” but not quick to address the issues raised. And, if I were to be controversial, I would say people from outside “west” Malaysia seem more eager at addressing these issues than those in the west. But like I said, that’s based on my observations, and possibly some of their’s, as noted in the comments.

  25. My question is… why should anyone have to state that I am a Chinese-Malaysian, Bumiputra or an Indian-Malaysian and have to clearly specify when filling up government forms.. or print in IC? Can’t it be just MALAYSIAN? Does most people in Malaysia still want to be identified based on their roots for whatever reason? Superiority? Rank? Intelligence? What?? Yes, physically, it is very easy to identify different races in Malaysia but in my opinion, it should just stop at that. There shouldn’t be any labels at all.. no Chinese Malaysian or Malaysian Chinese. Just Malaysian. Once a person is identified based on their race, in whatever country, inequality and division surely follows.

    My boyfriend is Malaysian with Chinese roots. Whenever we backpacked overseas, other travelers were surprised when he tell those who ask what his nationality is. Outside world impression of Malaysians are the ethnic Malays. Then he would explain his great grandfather was from China, so he’s a 3rd generation Malaysian. He was born in Malaysia so he’s Malaysian.

    Too easy to say but ideally and honestly, I feel it would’ve been so much simpler if we forget the race and just be proud of our nationality, as I know Malaysians are. Then have equal rights in terms of education, property ownership and work privileges. Yeah that for me is OneMalaysia.

  26. That’s a great write up about Malaysia in general. Me being Malaysian myself, did not really expect what you openly wrote here :). Sometimes I wish I can be as open.

  27. There are upcoming elections in Malaysia and last week there were big riots in Kuala Lumpur, is this a tinderbox or is it a sign of a nascent true democracy ? Personally i think the latter, human development is a one way street. Malaysia does have HUGE ethnic differences to deal with, and as history has shown these only cause problems in a country. But a rich successful democracy can easily brush these problems aside, when you take the monorail that winds between the skyscrapers in KL, you feel you are in a rich city. It may not be an ideal tourist destination, nor the best place to call “home”. But the country is developing and becoming successful. There are problems, corruption, religion, ethnic differences, but economic success will always trump them, ask Jewish victims of Madoff !
    So for me, although Malaysia is not a welcoming, smiling place like Thailand, it is becoming a developed nation with pleasant independent people.
    I await the news of the elections in Malaysia with interest

  28. Thailand IS a good place to settle down AND the people are happy and smiley (to your face), but in reality it is a army controlled state like Burma but with a huge tourist industry that the elite do not want to destroy (it brings them MILLLIONS of $$$$).

    Malaysia is moving fowards, but Thailand is NOT, Thailand does not even have a 3G mobile network !

    Dave will see what happens in this “Land of Smiles”, the ruling elite in Bangkok will NEVER willingly give up power. The problems there are just about to start, it is Thailand that is the tinderbox !

  29. I am Canadian and grew up in KL – wouldn’t have changed it for the world and would move back in a heartbeat! Love, love, love everything you write, Thank you! :)

  30. Hi Dave. I am Malaysian of ethnic Malay. I can understand as I have met a lot of foreighners who came and work in Malaysia, most of them heard these stories,gave bad comments about ethnic Malay, never bother to ask from a Malay personally our opinion about this issue, yes, we can bit shy, most don’t talk much (maybe some politicians yes), most don’t sit in bars sharing stories with foreighners like the Chinese and Indian. Listen to more views and opinion, don’t just hear and make assumption, think deep why the situation become like this. It is partly contributed by the communism the Chinese is trying to spread, they are China oriented even till now, Indian are still like in India, most Chinese some Indians don’t even know how to speak Malay, dont; want to go to national school, yet still want to claim they have the same rights? What is Malaysian about them, it will be hard to see. In fact they bring their motherland culture to Malaysia. Mostly we Malays just go about our own bussiness until these people start disrespecting and asking too mcuh after all we’ve given till we don’t have anything left. If we keep open Malaysian to them, they will bring all their relations form these 2 bigger continents, and in the end we don’t have enuf space and resource for everyone. It will be suffocating like where their grandparents came from. Maybe I am wrong, but the foreighners I met so far, think we Malays treat the Chinese and Indian very badly. If you open your eyes bigger, Malays might have bit help form gov, the Chinese and Indian even not written in any policy only make bussiness with each other, only now the west see once China become superpower the west is having economic prblem, why? Because the chinese will not share a single cent with you no matter how you help or share with them. They will take everything that you have. Malays don’t special rights, they are just rights of the original people whose been living here for thousand years ago. The Chinese and Indian say we are not the original people, that we come from Indonesia,well Malay Archipelago is big and Taiwan used to be our land too before the Chinese invasion. Just becuase we like to relax a bit doesnt mean we are lazy? This is tropical paradise, we used to live with easy food around us, we don’t have to prepare for winter or too hot summer, we are not too populated, we have enough resources for ourselves. But the immigrant from these 2 big continents are fighting for bits and pieces and we are not used to that, so we get bit defensive.We dont want to live like digs fighting for food. They fight for everything because back in their motherland, life is hard, and we don’t live that hard. I don’t want this to be part of culture in my land. Like europe, people from Malay Archipelago move around from places to places and they are still european. Even if some of our ancestors come from Indonesia, or thailand we are the same people. Our culture has a lot of similarities. I’ve been to other countries before, say for example if I go to China, do you think they will give the same rights to minority ethnic Uyghur in China for example? No, the Han Chinese wnats to conquer everything!! I went to Europe, there’s racism there, even minority black in Netherland who is a citizen of Netherland for example and have lived there for generations, they are 2nd class. We are small in numbers, we have to compete with people coming from big continents like china and india who built their little india and chinatown wherever they settle in this world. Think about it. Who doesnt assimilate? Is there any malay town or perhaps indonesian (bigger population if you want to compare) town anywhere in this world? The Malays who live overseas, no matter how large the community, they ASSIMILATE, they RESPECT THE LOCAL PEOPLE & CULTURE, we try not to ask more as we know, it is not our land,priority should be given to the locals. no matter how many generations of our children live there. To be able to live in Ireland for example, to work and live within a blessed community is good enough for us.

    1. I can’t answer for people who live near Malaysian communities overseas. I am sure, like with many cultures, there are issues on all sides. It is clear however, that within Malaysia, Peninsular Malaysia to be more specific, from what I, as noted here, others have seen and experienced many of the issues raised in this article. While some become quite impassioned on this subject matter from a personal perspective. I can only report on my own findings there. Many will disagree, some will agree. Comparisons can help in some regard, but “some” statements are too personally evoked to be taken sensically.

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