Malaysian Culture


  • Greetings are very important in Malaysia and are thought to indicate the respect you will show an individual from then on.
  • When greeting a group of people, the oldest person should be greeted first.
  • Always address individuals according to their appropriate titles (i.e. Mr, Mrs, Doctor) unless they specifically ask you speak more casually. If you indicate that you prefer to be addressed on a first name basis, you may find they feel more comfortable to continue to use your title and last name.
  • The common Malay verbal greeting is “Salaam”.
  • Elders may be address as “pakcik” (uncle) or “makcik” (aunty) out of respect. You may similarly be referred to in this way by people younger than yourself.
  • The common greeting across all ethnicities is a handshake. However, physical contact between men and women is not permitted in all circumstances. If greeting a Malaysian woman, wait to see if she extends her hand first before offering to shake.
  • People may put one hand over their chest and give a slight nod to greet those they perceive are unaccustomed to being touched.
  • Muslim Malays may greet people of the same gender by using both hands to grasp the other person’s.
  • Formal greetings involve extending both hands to the recipient's right hand and placing it between one’s own. The individual then makes a small bow and place their own right hand on their heart.
  • Bow the head slightly to greet someone older. If in a more formal setting, place the forehead or the tip of the nose on the back of the elder recipient's hand.
  • Older Chinese-Malaysians may lower their gaze out of respect during a greeting.
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  • Population
    [July 2016 est.]
  • Language
    Bahasa Malaysian [official]
    Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow)
    Other indigenous languages
  • Religion
    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%)
    [Census, 2010]
  • Ethnicity
    Bumiputera [Malay (50.1%) & Orang Asli/indigenous (11.8%)] (61.5%)
    Chinese (22.6%)
    Indian (6.7%)
    Other (1%)
    Non-citizens (8.2%)
    [Census, 2010]
  • Cultural Dimensions
  • Australians with Malay Ancestry
    46,079 [Census, 2016]
Malaysians in Australia
  • Population
    [Census, 2016]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in Malaysia.
  • Median Age
    39 [Census, 2016]
  • Gender
    Males (46.0%)
    Females (54.0%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Religion
    Buddhism (24.1%)
    No Religion (21.1%)
    Catholic Christianity (12.7%)
    Islam (5.2%)
    Other Religion (32.3%)
    Not Stated (4.4%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Ancestry
    Chinese (62.3%)
    Malay (14.0%)
    Indian (6.0%)
    English (4.2%)
    Other (13.5%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Language Spoken at Home
    English (31.4%)
    Mandarin (30.1%)
    Cantonese (18.8%)
    Malay (7.2%)
    Other (12.0%)
    Of those who speak a language other than English at home, 90.5% speak English fluently.
    [Census, 2016]
  • Diaspora
    Victoria (36.2%)
    New South Wales (22.9%)
    Western Australia (21.1%)
    Queensland (10.7%)
    Other (9.1%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Arrival
    Prior to 2007 (59.5%)
    2007 - 2011 (15.4%)
    2012 - 2016 (22.0%)
    [Census, 2016]
Country Flag Country Malaysia