There are many places where you can get information about Malaysia. For example, the CIA World Factbook, Wikipedia, and BBC’s country profiles. I’m gonna present the Malaysia that I know in a nutshell from my point of view, and based around questions people have asked me or have misperceived about Malaysia.
- It’s a former British colony, like India and Hong Kong.
- The three majority racial groups in descending % of the population: Malay, Chinese, and Indian. Other minority groups include the native peoples and Eurasians.
- “Malay” is not the same as “Malaysian”. You don’t call a Malaysian citizen a “Malay”.
- It is a Muslim country but there is freedom of religion. Major public holidays revolve around the religious festivals of Islam, Buddhism/Chinese, Christianity and Hinduism.
- By law and tradition, all Malays are compelled to be Muslims at least on a superficial level.
- Alcohol is allowed for non-Muslims, and not all Muslim women wear a headscarf.
- Illicit drugs and recreational drugs are illegal and will attract severe punishment. Best not to dabble with it while you are in the country. Nightclub raids occur from time to time.
- Although there isn’t as much intermingling of the races on a social level, there is intermingling day to day in shops and restaurants, commercial dealings and government offices.
- The national language is “Bahasa Malaysia”, also colloquially called “Malay”. English is widely spoken and taught in schools. Most Malaysians are at least bilingual.
- Every one eats the food of all other races, and there is much fusion of recipes and ingredients.
- Police bribery and corruption is a norm and accepted by the populace, especially when dealing with traffic offenses. The police are lowly paid: salaries start at RM800 a month, compared to the RM1200 and above of an entry-level office job for educated professionals.
Hope that was enlightening. 🙂