Get us in your inbox


11 things that make us Malaysian

Written by
Joyce Koh

1. We eat round the clock
Hobbits have elevenses, while we have... no sense of time. Kopi at ten, rojak at four, dim sum at nine, roti canai at three (in the morning). For Malaysians, any time is dinner time. Eating is a national sport; we get all the practice we can. Just look at the 24-hour mamaks.

2. We make family trees like no other
We actually got the same idea before watching the Merdeka ads from two major telcos (good job guys, we love those ads!). Whether we're calling strangers aunty, uncle, abang, kak, bro, adik, or macha, this everyone-is-family phenomenon is what makes us feel at home.

3. Our English teachers hate us
As we butcher the English language to suit our purposes (gostan, anyone?), the exclusive Manglish vocabulary is a testament to our linguistic talents as a nation. Cuba try?

4. For Asia’s most obese nation, we sure are obsessed with watching sports
If there's one man who can bring unity to the nation, it’s Dato’ Lee Chong Wei (although your Lin Dan supporter friend might disagree). Here’s the best example: Political parties bicker and persecute, but when the Thomas Cup rolls around, all differences seemingly evaporate so we can root for our national athletes. Thank you, Lee Chong Wei, Nicol David, and Harimau Malaya. Malaysia – united by badminton, divided by EPL.

5. We create our own rules (and break them as we see fit)
From the ubiquitous ‘power of the hand’ to jaywalking like professionals, Malaysians are united in our quest to making and breaking laws. We’re so good at it, we even made our own parking summons.

6. We are always prepared for another public transport adventure
Bus stops are decorative afterthoughts. Keretapi Tanah Melayu brings out the shudders. The KL Monorail is a sardine fest. Whichever form of public transport hell you’re facing, ask the professionals. We know how to deal with it – we drive. 

7. We like to take care of cloth edges
We are a jaga tepi kain bunch. Got a new boyfriend? The whole village finds out before you get home from your first date. Car accident on the highway? Slow down to see lah! Failed an exam? Your neighbour’s cousin’s kid’s tuition teacher knows. We may be busybodies, but hey, who else is going to help you change your tyres on the highway?

8. Katy Perry likes her road trips; we like our food trips
Bidor duck noodles two hours’ drive away? No problem. Kolok Mee over in Sarawak? Everyone can fly. How about that glorious Penang street food? Stop by Ipoh for some hor fun on the way. Going the extra kilometre for good food is a God-given right. Others recommend destinations. We recommend restaurants.

9. We have a built-in cultural GPS
With supersized cultural GPS built in, we Malaysians are a tolerant bunch. Come Friday afternoon, non-Muslims know to automatically steer clear of mosques. When the Chinese have funeral processions that take up the whole street, we wait patiently. When the Indian neighbour’s wedding tents block the road, we use another route – no fuss about it. 

10. We have a weird brand of hospitality
‘Dah makan?’ is our national method of saying hi, and we just can’t bear to see a fellow Malaysian go hungry.  There’s a reason why Malaysian-organised events and conferences have the most ‘refreshments’ and ‘tea breaks’. Bliss. 

11. Greek gods live on ambrosia, we live on chilli sauce
Any self-respecting Malaysian restaurant has a bottle or two of chilli sauce on the tables. Malaysians studying overseas arm themselves with six-pack bottles of chilli sauce. When homesickness gets too overwhelming, a dash of spice will give you a fiery taste of home.

Latest news