22 Unwritten Rules Of Common Courtesy When You're In Malaysia

Small gestures of respect go a long way. Pass them on!

When you meet older people:

1. Address elders as 'uncle' or 'aunty', alternatively 'pak cik' or 'mak cik' in Malay.

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When you visit a friend's house:

2. Remove your shoes before entering someone's home.

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3. If invited to someone's home for dinner, bring a small gift of food such as fruit or cake.

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4. Ask if anyone is going for that last piece of food before helping yourself to it.

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5. Don't cross chopsticks on the table or stick them vertically into rice as it symbolises death.

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When you are on the road:

6. Extend your hand as a way of saying thanks when you’re given way on the road.

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7. If a car has its signal light indicating that it needs to pass before you, give way.

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8. If you MUST double park, keep watch and leave your number on the dashboard.

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When you are eating out:

9. At a busy restaurant, quickly leave when you are done with your meal to accommodate waiting patrons.

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10. Fold the top half of the banana leaf toward you to signify that you've enjoyed your meal and will return.

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11. When eating communal dishes, take moderate portions so others get a fair share.

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When you are given a gift:

12. If someone offers to pay for your meal or gives you an unexpected present, politely refuse the first time and accept after they insist that you receive it.

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13. Never open ang pows or presents in front of the giver unless asked to.

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When you are pointing your finger:

14. Instead of your forefinger, point at places, things or people with your thumb with the other four fingers closed in a fist.

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When you eat with your hands:

15. Always use your right hand when eating or handling food. The left hand is considered unclean as it is used to cleanse yourself.

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When you give face:

16. Do not openly shame, critique, insult, or put someone down in public.

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When you show respect:

17. Different people and communities in Malaysia practice different customs. Always be sensitive and respect local beliefs, customs, and culture.

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18. If you need to excuse yourself by walking across seated guests, bend to lower your posture politely.

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When you attend a wedding:

19. Do not wear pure white or black to a wedding reception. These colours are typically worn at funerals and signify mourning.

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20. It is acceptable and usually preferred to give the gift of money to the wedding couple. Put the money in a red packet or in the wedding invitation envelope.

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When you meet someone new:

21. Some women may not shake hands with men. Wait for the lady to offer her handshake first or else greet her with a smile and a nod of the head.

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When you drink alcohol:

22. Not everyone in Malaysia drinks alcohol. Always ask a person if he or she drinks before bringing alcohol to their home. If dining out, politely ask if it is okay for you to order alcohol.

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