Business in Malaysia is dominated by ethnic Chinese, the government
by ethnic Malays, and the legal and educational community by Indians.
- The standard Malaysian handshake is rather limp and lasts 10 or 12 seconds.
(Most North American handshakes only last 3 or 4.) Often, both hands are used.
- A typical Malaysian greeting is the rhetorical "Where are you
going?" "For a walk" or "Nowhere of importance" are
perfectly acceptable answers.
- The traditional Malay forms of Mr./Mrs./Miss are:
These are used in front of an individual's name (e.g., "Mr. Ahmadi"
would be addressed as "Encik Ahmadi.") You can use Puan
("Mrs.") for any adult female.
- Puan=Mrs. (married woman)
- Cik=Miss (unmarried woman)
- Try to schedule appointments at least two weeks in advance. Malaysian
executives are quite busy and travel frequently.
- English is the language of business, but official correspondence with
government officials must be in the official language, Bahasa Malaysia.
- Due to the slow pace of negotiations, it's unusual to complete a
complicated deal in one trip to Malaysia. Little will happen at the first
- Never express anger in public: A person who loses his or her temper won't
be trusted or respected.
- The word "No" is rude. In Malaysia, "Yes" can mean
"I agree" or "Maybe" or "I hope you can tell from my
lack of enthusiasm that I really mean No."
- Take advantage of any invitations to social events, although invitations
may not come immediately. Let the Malaysians make the first invitation.