Sunteți pe pagina 1din 3

Etiquette and Customs in Malaysia

Meeting and Greeting

Greetings in a social context will depend upon the ethnicity of the person you are meeting. In
general, most Malays are aware of Western ways so the handshake is normal. There may be
slight differences though and a few things to bear in mind include:

Malay women may not shake hands with men. Women can of course shake hands with
women. Men may also not shake hands with women and may bow instead while placing their
hand on their heart. The Chinese handshake is light and may be rather prolonged. Men and
women may shake hands, although the woman must extend her hand first. Many older
Chinese lower their eyes during the greeting as a sign of respect.

Indians shake hands with members of the same sex. When being introduced to someone of
the opposite sex, nodding the head and smiling is usually sufficient.

Among all cultures, there is a general tendency to introduce:

the most important person to the lower ranking person.


the older person to the younger person.
women to men.

Greetings in Malaysia

Malays greet each other with a salaam, in which two individuals each extend both hand and
grasp both their hands somewhat like a double handshake. The gesture is used when saying
goodbye. The salaam is only used when greeting men. It is normal to see people in the
tourist industry to greet visitors by placing their right hand over the left breast. This gesture
means: I greet you from my heart. [Source: The Traveler's Guide to Asian Customs &
Manners by Elizabeth Devine and Nancy L. Braganti. International etiquette expert: Mary
Kay Metcalf of Creative Marketing Alliance in New Jersey]

Men should not shake hands with women unless the women extend their hands first.
Different ethnic groups address each using different names. To avoid confusion, ask a
person how they want to be addressed.

Malays should be addressed with a Mr., Mrs. or Miss first followed by the family name
(which comes first). Thus Anwar Ibrahim would be greeted as Mr. Anwar. In the case of the
wife, both her family name and her husband's family name is used. Anwar' wife. His wife
Azizah Ismail would be greeted as Mrs. Azizah Anwar.

According to destination-asia.com: Dont offer to shake hands unless you know that your
acquaintances are fairly westernized. Even then, let them offer to shake hands first and
never shake hands with a woman unless they offer to do so first. The traditional greeting or
salam resembles a handshake with both hands but without the grasp. The Chinese
handshake is light and may be rather prolonged. Many older Chinese lower their eyes during
the greeting as a sign of respect. [Source: destination-asia.com]

According to kwintessential.co.uk: Greetings in a social context will depend upon the


ethnicity of the person you are meeting. In general, most Malays are aware of Western ways
so the handshake is normal. There may be slight differences though and a few things to bear
in mind include: 1) Malay women may not shake hands with men. Women can of course
shake hands with women. Men may also not shake hands with women and may bow instead
while placing their hand on their heart. 2) The Chinese handshake is light and may be rather
prolonged. Men and women may shake hands, although the woman must extend her hand
first. Many older Chinese lower their eyes during the greeting as a sign of respect. 3) Indians
shake hands with members of the same sex. When being introduced to someone of the
opposite sex, nodding the head and smiling is usually sufficient. 4) Among all cultures, there
is a general tendency to introduce: a) the most important person to the lower ranking person;
b) the older person to the younger person; c) women to men. [Source: kwintessential.co.uk]

Social Introductions
Handshakes are commonly used as part of the introductions in Malaysia, although in some instances
the handshake may only be exchanged with members of the same gender. A Malaysian male may
shake the hand of a man introduced to him, but may refrain from doing the same with a Malaysian
woman; the Malaysian male may instead bow in front of the woman as a gesture of greeting, instead
of shaking her hand. To be on the safe side, it is best to wait if the person you are introduced to will
extend his or her hand for a handshake or will use another manner of greeting, to avoid awkward
situations.

More familiar or physical forms of greeting, such as kissing or hugging, is normally reserved for family
members; you should avoid doing this for new acquaintances who may become very uncomfortable
(or even offended) with the overly familiar gestures. One of the most common Malay greetings is done
with the hands outstretched, lightly touching the other persons hands, and bringing the hands to
ones own chest to signify, I greet you from the bottom of my heart. A simpler version of this greeting
is done by placing the right hand over the left part of the chest while smiling.

Seniority plays a big role in Malaysian society, and significantly influences the way customs and
etiquette are followed. In occasions when introductions are made to a family, the oldest male member
of the family should be greeted first; this male member will also be given the best and the highest
placed seat at a table or gathering, and is consulted first regarding any matter. In a business setting,
the most senior Malaysian should also be the first to be greeted or acknowledged by the most senior
member of the other group/party.