Our Timeless Culture: 5 of the Most Malaysian Things You’ll Ever Observe | The Full Frontal

Our Timeless Culture: 5 of the Most Malaysian Things You’ll Ever Observe

When you think of being Malaysian, what comes to mind? Multicultural? Diverse? Beaches? Shopping?

We’ve got a lot to be proud of, but here’s what really leaves an impression.

1) The Art of Being Laid Back

chinese new year, raya aidilfitri, deepavali
We love our diversity, our food, our colours and obviously our public holidays. Photo by nst.com.my

Something a non-Malaysian will quickly notice is probably the sheer amount of public holidays we have. 15 days to be exact; which has put us up among the Top 10 countries with the most public holidays!

While we do have stacks of off days, Malaysians are generally a hardworking bunch. We still live by the 9 to 5 rule, five-days-a-week routine without fail. And since we have 15 off days, we don’t take a whole month leave to travel to Alaska like (some) of our European or American friends.

2) Rojak Manglish

malaysian manglish
Well, it means what it means. Photo by thesmartlocal.com

Being Malaysian automatically means being multilingual – if you’re doing it right. Riding on a rich diversity of dialects and languages, a majority of Malaysians are able to converse in more than one language; at times, more than one at a time. This mixed language was a result of the British introducing migrants from China and India.

A progressive mixture of interactions between these newcomers, local Malays, Orang Asli, Peranakans and Portuguese settlers birthed a language coined as “Bahasa Rojak”. We’ve even earned a Wikipedia for the birth of our unique linguistic heritage. 

3) Unpredictability

Okay maybe can’t blame them if their daily grind is kesian like this. Photo by torque.com.sg

As Malaysians, our nation is saturated with people with surprises to offer. One of the notorious acts of this is our ability to change lanes without notice. Few people know this, but there exists a taboo against using the toggle for directional signals. Whether it be out of carelessness or simply a lack of empathy, the habit haunts drivers across all legal driving age groups, and if we’re unlucky, our tourists.

That aside, most of us are still sane drivers. One way to find out is when we travel abroad. How many times do you see a travelling Malaysian zigzagging the freeway on full throttle? We can’t say the same about our friends down south though, *cough.

4) Bonded Through Worry

Flags nationwide were half-mast when we brought home the bodies from the MH17 tragedy. Photo by malaymail.com

According to the newly developed National Worry Index (NWI), Malaysians can now measure how worried our citizens are at a national level. On a scale of 0 to 1, our nation scores a “maximum worry” index of 0.77 on the NWI. As a Malaysian, there’s a lot to be kept up at night. From corruption and youth unemployment to being in debt to sustain the cost of living, we’re a worried lot and we know it.

Heck we’re even ranked 80th happiest country in the world according to the World Happiness Report. Now before you question such research, read this for more context so you don’t get all riled up.

5) United by Fret

Mamak is Malaysia. Malaysia is mamak. No other way around it. Photo by Nicholas Punter on Unsplash

From every mamak to the most prestigious restaurants in town, the conversation has a similar underlying theme: Complaining. Although this might sound derogatory (and in some perspectives, it very well might be), it’s hardly the case if you’ve lived a day in our little nation.

Our worries are national conversation starters, bridging gaps between awkward commute silences to unlikely friendships. Making friends through complaining about the heavy rain has never been so easy! Also, have you noticed how our bond is stronger whenever there is a national, political or even a security issue? Does the GE14, Lahad Datu or MH17 ring a bell?

6) The Last Straw

Saman2 1564996289
No this is not an iPhone launch. It’s a pay-you-saman before we-pay-you-a-visit thing. Photo by bharian.com.my

Okay we know we said 5 but this one is important too.

Admit it. How many times have we rushed through a last minute queue to pay our saman and bills? Remember plane ticket price drops and online shopping day? We tend to shilly-shally and let slide, only to jump at the very last minute.

Same goes for the last piece of dish on the plate. You ever noticed how no one would touch the last piece of Pai Tee or pisang goreng? Never question this. It’s just a Malaysian thing.

We Are What We Settle For

There was a time, back in the days, when we were (actually) one. Then as our nation progressed, we grew apart. Can we get back together again? Photo by todaymalaysia.wordpress.com

Our values are rooted in our culture and there lies our next generation’s mindset. Although we possess unconventional quirks that have earned us a place as the second friendliest city in the world, there’s room to grow. As we retweet posts that supposedly ‘restores our faith in humanity’, we stand to do our principles justice by actively combating racism and those who threaten our unity.

Every day we live amongst those who refuse to let race and religion divide us, but of course, it’s always easier said than done. At the end of the day, it’s all part of building a good foundation for our future generation – a community they can be proud of, our community. 

If there’s ever a pay off for conflicts then our Malaysian-made culture clash would fit the bill.