About Malaysia: Social Customs

1. Every races or religions would definitely have their own beliefs and customs to follow. Malaysians are able to live together in a harmonious multicultural living environment, in order to achieve peace and unity.

2. Although handshakes generally suffice for both men and women, some Muslim ladies may acknowledge an introduction with a gentleman with a nod of her head
and smile.

3. Shoes must be removed when entering a Malaysian home. It is also customary to do so upon entering a mosque or an Indian temple or Buddhist temple.

4. It is polite to call before visiting a home.

5. Business cards are always exchanged and should be both given and received with both hands at all times. Study the card for a few moments before placing it in
your pocket.

6. The “salam” is the Muslim equivalent of a handshake. A younger person usually offers the salam by clasping the hand(s) of the elder. This is usually followed by a verbal greeting of “Assalamualaikum” (Peace be upon you).

7. A non-Muslim should note that in Islam, physical contact between the opposite sex is discouraged. Thus,a non-Muslim should not be unnecessarily alarmed if
their offer of a handshake is not reciprocated by a member of the opposite sex.

8. Never give liquor to a Muslim (alcoholic beverages are forbidden in the Muslim religion), or clocks, watches, knives or white flowers to a Chinese person
(white flowers are associated with death in Chinese culture, and so are clocks, knives and watches – the word for time and death sound similar).

9. The right hand is always used when eating with one’s hand or when giving and receiving objects The right forefinger is not used to point at places, objects or persons. Instead, the thumb of the right hand with the four fingers, folded under is preferred usage.

10. The Chinese use their family names preceded by Mr., Mrs., or Miss. A firm handshake and a “hello” are suitable as a greeting.
11. Toasting is not a common practice because Malaysia has a large Muslim population, which does not drink.

12. What to wear: It is ideal to have light clothing to wear year round. In the evenings, a light wrap may be advised. It is also advisable for ladies to wear
long sleeves and loose pants or long skirts when entering mosques and temples.

13. No tipping in Malaysia. Tipping is usually not necessary, unless service is excellent. Most hotels and large restaurants add a 10% service charge automatically.
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