Culture of Malaysia

Topics: Malaysia, Geert Hofstede, Gender Pages: 11 (3701 words) Published: July 5, 2012

Malaysia is a one of the multi cultural country. Cultures have been meeting and mixing in Malaysia since the very beginning of its history. More than fifteen hundred years ago a Malay kingdom in Bujang Valley welcomed traders from China and India. Malaysia's cultural mosaic is marked by many different cultures, but several in particular have had especially lasting influence on the country. Chief among these is the ancient Malay culture, and the cultures of Malaysia's two most prominent trading partners throughout history--the Chinese, and the Indians. These three groups are joined by a dizzying array of indigenous tribes, many of which live in the forests and coastal areas of Borneo.  Although each of these cultures has vigorously maintained its traditions and community structures, they have also blended together to create contemporary Malaysia's uniquely diverse heritage.

The Malays, who account for over half the Malaysian population, play a dominant role politically and are included in a grouping identified as Bumiputra. Their native language, Bahasa Malaysia, is the national language of the country.  By definition of the Malaysian constitution, all Malays are Muslims.

The Chinese have been settling in Malaysia for many centuries, and form the second-largest ethnic group. The first Chinese to settle in the Straits Settlements primarily in and around Malacca. These Chinese have adopted Malay traditions while maintaining elements of Chinese culture such as their largely Buddhist and Taoist religion. The more common dialects of Chinese spoken in Peninsular Malaysia are Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainanese, and Foochow.

The Indian community in Malaysia is the smallest of the three main ethnic groups, accounting for about 10 percent of the country's population. They speak a variety of South Asian languages. Tamils, Malayalees, and Telugu people make up over 85 percent of the people of Indian origin in the country.  Indian immigrants to Malaysia brought with them the Hindu and Sikh cultures. This included temples and Gurdwaras, cuisine, and clothing.  Hindu tradition remains strong in the Indian community of Malaysia.

According to the Hofstede’s value dimensions, if we explore the Malaysian culture through the lens of the 5-D Model, we can get a good overview of the deep drivers of Malaysian culture relative to other world cultures. There are main four elements in Hofstede’s value dimensions: - Power distance, Individualism, Masculinity / Femininity, and Uncertainty avoidance. The below graph shows the overview of the Hofstede’s value dimensions of Malaysia.


Hofstede classified a county's cultural attitudes as four dimensions; one of the dimensions is power distance. The extent to which power is distributed equally within a society and the degree that society accepts this distribution. A high power distance culture prefers hierarchical bureaucracies, strong leaders and a high regard for authority. A low power distance culture tends to favour personal responsibility and autonomy. In societies with low power distance, people strive to equalise the distribution of power and demand justification for inequalities of power.

On the other hand, high PDI cultures accept and expect a more unequal, or hierarchical distribution of power. It is not the norm for subordinates to question the decisions made by those in power. They accept their status as lower-rank. Australia (36), New Zealand (22), Nordic countries (18-30s) and USA (40) are low PDI countries while China (80), Mexico (81) and Russia (93) are high PDI countries. The Southeast Asian region, like most of Asia, is a high PDI culture, with Indonesia (78), Thailand (64), Singapore (75) and the Philippines (94) scoring well above the world average of 55.

In this case, Malaysia becomes one of the top country in PDI which is (104). This notoriously high score is reflected in every facet of Malaysia society....
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