Malaysian Culture

Other Considerations

  • Australians can underestimate how seriously Malaysians value modesty. Exposing your body too much by wearing something very revealing can seriously offend people. In these cases, explanations suggesting that it was done in jest or without malicious intent may be inadequate.
  • It is a good idea to approach friendship earnestly with Malaysians. Malays in particular tend to seriously invest time in deepening relationships. If you are flippant or superficial about your friendship with them, they may be offended and discouraged to get to know you further.
  • It is the Malaysian media/government’s position that those who leave and become expatriates in other countries are disloyal to Malaysia. It can be valuable to consider what this means for Malaysians living in Australia. If a Malaysian gives up their citizenship, the act is considered irrevocable.
  • As of 2014, around a quarter of the Malaysian population lives in rural areas as opposed to the 74% that reside in urban areas.
  • Many Muslims pray five times (in the early morning, midday, afternoon, after sunset and at night) every day. Each prayer session requires they ritually wash their body beforehand. While not all Malaysians pray every day, anticipate that these prayers could interrupt your time with a Malaysian if they are observant.
  • It can be inappropriate to wear yellow (the royal colour) on some occasions. It is also inappropriate to wear black.
  • Chinese-Malaysians consider odd numbers unlucky, so gifts should be given in even numbers, 8 being the luckiest. However, 4 is considered an unlucky number as its pronunciation rhymes with “death” in Chinese.
  • Drug possession can result in mandatory death as punishment in Malaysia.
Download this Cultural Profile

Too busy to read it right now?

You can download this cultural profile in an easy-to-read PDF format that can be printed out and accessed at any time.

  • Population
    [July 2016 est.]
  • Languages
    Bahasa Malaysian [official]
    Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow)
    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
  • Australians with Malay Ancestry
    46,079 [2016 census]
Malaysians in Australia
  • Population
    [2016 census]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in Malaysia.
  • Average Age
  • 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%)
  • Language Spoken at Home
    English (32.6%)
    Mandarin (24%)
    Cantonese (23.1%)
    Malay (8.1%)
    Other (12.2%)
    Of those who speak a language other than English at home, 92.5% speak English fluently.
  • 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%)
Country Flag Country Malaysia