Malaysian Culture

Naming

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Most name choices are reflective of a Malaysian’s ethnicity and indicate whether a person is Malay, Indian or Chinese-Malaysian.


Malay

  • A Malay’s name is usually structured as their first name followed by a patronym (bin/binte/binti) followed by their father’s first name. For example, a girl named ‘Aisyah’ whose father is named ‘Musa’ will be ‘Aisyah binte Musa’. A female’s name does not change at marriage.
  • A title of ‘Haji’ or ‘Hajjah’ indicates the person has made their pilgrimage to Mecca. ‘Sayyed’ or ‘Sharifah’ shows that the person is considered to have descended from the prophet Mohammed.


Chinese-Malaysian

  • In Chinese names, the surname comes before one or two given names (e.g. WANG Zhifu Ping). The surname is usually one syllable, and the given names may contain one or two syllables each.
  • Chinese women do not change their names when they marry, but children are given their father's name.
  • Chinese names are hard for Westerners to pronounce as the tones of Cantonese and Mandarin are very specific. Upon moving to Australia, the Chinese take this into consideration (along with the pressure to conform to Western standards), and therefore, most will adopt a Westernised first name. They may keep one of their original first names as a middle name, but essentially adopt a new name and format it in the Western way: [Westernised first name] [Chinese first name/middle name] [surname] (e.g. James Zhifu WANG). This new name is only used in Western and international contexts; they revert to their original name when returning to China. However, first-generation Chinese migrants living in Australia usually give their Australia-born child a Western name instead of a Chinese one.


Indian-Malaysian

  • Many Indian names do not include a surname. The initial of the father’s name is placed before their first name (e.g. N. Kumar). When addressed formally, the name is written as ‘s/o N. Kumar’. ‘S/o’ means ‘son of’, while ‘d/o’ is used for females and means ‘daughter of’.
  • Sometimes when women marry, they omit their father’s initial and adopt their husband’s first name as their surname (e.g. Nita KUMAR). However, it is also common for women to adopt their husband’s family name (e.g. Nita VASANI).
Malaysia
  • Population
    30,949,962
    [July 2016 est.]
  • Languages
    Bahasa Malaysian [official]
    English
    Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow)
    Tamil
    Telugu
    Iban
    Kadazan
    Other indigenous languages
  • Religions
    Islam [official] (61.3%)
    Buddhism (19.8%)
    Christianity (9.2%)
    Hinduism (6.3%)
    Confucianism, Taoism and other traditional Chinese religions (1.3%)
    Other (0.4%)
    No Religion (0.7%)
    [2010 census]
  • Ethnicities
    Bumiputera [Malay (50.1%) & Orang Asli/indigenous (11.8%)] (61.5%)
    Chinese (22.6%)
    Indian (6.7%)
    Other (1%)
    Non-citizens (8.2%)
    [2010 census]
  • Cultural Dimensions
    Power Distance 100
    Individualism 26
    Masculinity 50
    Uncertainty Avoidance 36
    Long Term Orientation 41
    Indugence 57
  • Australians with Malay Ancestry
    46,079 [2016 census]
Malaysians in Australia
  • Population
    138,364
    [2016 census]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in Malaysia.
  • Average Age
    39
  • Gender
    Males (45.5%)
    Females (54.5%)
  • Religion
    Buddhism (25.2%)
    No Religion (16.3%)
    Catholic Christianity (14.5%)
    Islam (6.2%)
    Other (37.7%)
  • Ancestry
    Chinese (62.1%)
    Malay (13.2%)
    Indian (5.8%)
    English (4.2%)
    Other (14.7%)
  • Languages
    English (32.6%)
    Mandarin (24%)
    Cantonese (23.1%)
    Malay (8.1%)
    Other (12.2%)
  • English Proficiency
    Well (92.5%)
    Not well (6.5%)
  • Diaspora
    Victoria (34.2%)
    New South Wales (23.5%)
    Western Australia (21.5%)
    Queensland (11%)
  • Arrival
    Prior to 2001 (56.3%)
    2001-2006 (16.3%)
    2007-2011 (24.1%)
Where do we get our statistics?
Country MY Flag