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The Host Country-Malaysia

Discuss about the Market Cultural Report Malaysia.

Trade can take place only if there is proper knowledge of the market in which the transaction takes place. The global economy is flourishing rapidly with the availability and acceptability of foreign products by the consumers. It is problematic for any company to set up their business abroad as they remain unaware of the people, their culture, their taste and their demands (Austrade, 2016). It is very important for any company to know the culture of the foreign country where it plans to establish their business.

Market cultural report is a systematic presentation of the cultural background of the nation and market culture that is the competitiveness that exists between the organizations and its employees. Analyzing the report of any country before establishing business over there will help the host country to have a detailed idea about the upcoming targeted customer’s preference and purchasing capability.

This report is being prepared on the basis of the existing market culture of the chosen or host country, Malaysia. The home country in this report is Singapore. An analysis of the similarities and the differences in market culture of these two countries is being done to see if it is justifiable to set up a business in Malaysia by the Singaporeans.

In this report the chosen or host country is Malaysia. This country had been chosen due to several factors. In this report two perspectives have been highlighted as the main reason behind this choice, namely business purpose and retirement purpose ("Malaysia is the Third Best Country to Retire In - MM2H", 2016).

Malaysia has an international market in the countries of India, Singapore, China, Vietnam and Myanmar. This ensures that if any business is set up in the country it is expected to flourish due to the high demand from all its neighboring countries.  

The country has plenty of youths in their population. The youths are mostly very skillful and hard-working ("Department of Statistics Malaysia Official Portal", 2016). At the same time the country has the scope to produce goods in the most cost-effective way.

The country allows foreigners to buy property just by paying a threshold level of pricing which is determined by the state in which people choose to live. It has the strong foreign asset ownership right so that foreigners do not face problems while purchasing property (Doing Business in Asia, 2016).  

Chosen for Business Purpose

The city named Kuala Lumpur is one of the most convenient and least cost cities to reside. Overall Malaysia is cheapest country in Asia after Indonesia. The prices of property are very low as compared to other Asian countries (Austrade, 2016). There is availability of cheap yet healthy foods as well. Hence setting up business in this region or its outskirts can reduce the cost of establishment of business.

Global Retirement Index as stated by International Living.Com of 2014 ranked Malaysia as the third most happening countries where people choose to retire. The reasons why it is preferable to choose Malaysia for retirement are:

The topographical features of Malaysia attract people who aim to spend their retired life in a memorable way. People can enjoy the hill-top beauty and also bask in the sun while lying down on the captivating beaches (Abdul-Aziz, Loh & Jaafar, 2014)

People retiring depends on their accumulated saving for the rest of their lives. At the same time the country has excellent health facilities with well equipped highly advanced nursing homes (Tan & Ho, 2014).  Hence it is preferable to retire in Malaysia.

Malaysia is referred to be the true representative of Asia and known as “Truly Asia”. The country’s history dates back to or before 13th century. Initially it was a sea-port used and regulated by the Europeans. The region was earlier known as Malacca and founded by the Prince of Sumatra. Over the time, it became the colony of Portuguese, Dutch and then British. They got their independence in 1957.


The population of Malaysia consists of Chinese, Indians, Malays and small communities of different natives. The current population of the country is more than 33 million and the population is growing at a slower rate than before.


Malaysia’s official language is Malay. English is the most widely used language in this country for business purpose. Other than these, Chinese and Tamil are also widely used in Malaysia.


Malaysia’s official religion is Islam. There are many Chinese who follow Buddhism and few follows Islam. The Indians of Malaysia are mostly followers of Hinduism (Krishnan, 2015).

Malaysia being the land with multi-religious dwellers has several customs and cultures which are unique and followed only by their locals (Asian Inspirations, 2016).

  • The Malays follows the festivals of “Hari Raya Aidiladha” and “Hari Raya Aidilfitri”. Their preferred cuisines are satays, nasi himpit and rending.
  • The Chinese follows their New Year dressed in their unique attire called kebaya nyonya and cheongsam. They offer a gift called Angpau to their visitors during their festive season (Communication, 2013).
  • The Indians residing in Malaysia follows the unique festival called Thaipusam in the Batu Caves of Malaysia. They carry a decorated wooden arch called Kavadi in a parade and take it to the famous Hindu temple name Batu cave.
  • Some other unique customs followed by the Malaysians are:
  • Prior to entering their homes, mosques and temple, the people remove their shoes (Communication, 2013).
  • Thumb is used to point any object or thing. It is considered to be rude if any person points their forefinger to point out things.

People usually are not greeted by hugs and kisses. The country still possesses orthodox mentality and they feel humiliated at these gestures.

The Muslims greet their guests by Salams and the ladies give a nod and smile.

Chosen for Retirement Purpose

Host: Malaysia and Home: Singapore:

Business Culture refers to the etiquettes, norms and ethics followed by any Company. It portrays the Company’s working style, its values, working style, use of social media and maintaining formalities. Each country has its own set of business ethics and rules that must be followed by the companies operating there (Koslowski, 2013). Malaysia is characterized by fast pace growth within the economy. It is an emerging economy with very enthusiastic, highly qualified and trained workforce. The chosen country Malaysia and home country Singapore have very few differences in their business cultures which can be summarized as follows:

Business Language: The country’s main language is Malay. Other than that, Chinese and Tamil are often used. But communication in the business takes place in English language. Having a single and fixed language allotted for business helps the foreigner to easily access the Malaysian markets without facing any language barrier (Moran, Abramson & Moran, 2014). Singapore’s official business language is English too like the Malaysian but the Singaporeans are more comfortable in speaking in Singlish. It is English spoken in their local dialects along with local slangs.

Business attire: Malaysians prefer more of formal outfits in office. They prefer less revealing clothes for both men and women. It is better to wear full sleeve shirt for men and long skirt of jeans for women.

Gestures and etiquettes: The traditional way to please a Malaysian is not by speaking flowery words but by maintaining a proper gesture while communicating. They rely more on people’s gesture, their speaking tone, facial expression, eye contacts and body language. In Singapore it is not preferable to look directly in the eyes of your client or boss. It is associated with an action of disrespect. A firm handshake is a sign of welcome note (Business culture in Singapore, 2016).

Female involvement: The country is an emerging economy showing an upward trend in female participating in the workforce. Earlier women were not much involved in working outside the home, but now Malaysian accepts and allows their female to join the labor force. Females usually join in schools and banking institutions (Noor & Leong, 2013).

Industrial Relation: The work cultures of Malaysia are highly regulated by their governing institutions. The employers have been brought under organizational barriers so that they cannot deprive their employees. All the working contracts are legal and have helped in reducing the gap between employee employer relationships.

Cultural Analysis of Malaysia

Food and gifts: It is always appreciated if any outsider eats a meal with the Malaysian counterparts in a business meeting or elsewhere (Avanade Malaysia, 2016). Giving gifts on other hand is usually not acceptable as people feel that gifts are symbols of bribe. In Singapore giving a small gift in business is an appreciated work. Business lunches are also common in Singapore.

Some other business formalities that should be maintained while trying to set up a Company in Malaysia are: People needs to be very patient during any business agreement when they try to deal with the Malaysian. Showing respect and recognizing the work of elderly members of the business is mandatory (Mun et al., 2015). The people residing there may ask some personal questions that should not be taken negatively as its Malaysian style of getting closer to their business partners (Avanade Malaysia, 2016). The way people give business cards and receive it shows their act of respect in Singapore. It needs to be maintained with care.

Greer Hostede’s famous Cultural dimension theory talks about the cross-cultural communication of a country (Rallapalli & Montgomery, 2015).It analyses the impact of culture on the behavior and lifestyle of people of the country. Hofstede’s Cultural Dimension has 6 points: Power distance, Masculinity, Individualism, Uncertainty avoidance, Indulgence, Long-term orientation.

Power distance tries to focus on the inequality existing in the nation through the cultural perspective. Masculinity tries to highlight whether the society want to be the best or the society does whatever they feel is right. Individualism tries to capture the interdependency of the people amongst themselves ("Malaysia - Geert Hofstede", 2016). Uncertainty avoidance shows people’s perspective of accepting the unknown and creating ways to avoid the unknown. The way people try to control their unwanted desire and restrict their impulses is shown by the indicator named Indulgence. Long term orientation highlights the people’s ability to stay connected to their past while trying to secure a better future. Malaysia’s score in all these dimensions have been shown in the next stanza

Malaysia scores very high on the power distance component whereas its score out of 100 on Individualism is only 26 ("Malaysia - Geert Hofstede", 2016). Malaysia scored 50 in the dimension of Masculinity which implies that the country is indeterminate in this regard. Malaysia’s score on the principle of Uncertainty avoidance shows that the country does not hesitate to jump into uncertainty. A score on the wrong side of 50 based on the parameter of Indulgence shows that Malaysia gives a high level of priority to its culture and strive to attain happiness through it. The country again shows low score in their final dimension of Long term orientation ("Malaysia - Geert Hofstede", 2016). The low score indicates that the country look only on short term results and has very less propensity to save things for future.  Hence, any country planning to establish their business set up in Malaysia must take into consideration the cultures of Malaysia and should be able to communicate with their targeted clients so that the clients do not face the sense of uncertainty in their business.

Malaysia’s Cultural Uniqueness


Malaysian economy is so varied in terms of its culture, religion and other aspects. It is a very old economy with its origin dating back to 13th century. A report of 10-12 pages is not enough to justify the true glory of the nation. The report still strived to go through the country’s culture in general. Then the cultural difference of the home country and the host country have been analyzed so that it becomes easier to understand the important aspects that should be taken into consideration while establishing a business in Malaysia. Several practices like hugging, handshake and pointing the forefinger that are just a casual gesture of communicating are not acceptable or taken as a gesture of disrespect in the country. These gestures should be cautiously avoided during any business meetings or gatherings so that the locals are not offended. If these can be maintained then establishing business in Malaysia is expected to be very fruitful due to its other facilities available like low cost of living, low price of land, easily available extension of visa and the most important factor that is support of the government by the mission “Malaysia, my second home.”


10 Interesting Malay Customs and Traditions - Asian Inspirations. (2016). Asian Inspirations. Retrieved 14 November 2016, from

Abdul-Aziz, A. R., Loh, C. L., & Jaafar, M. (2014). Malaysia's My Second Home (MM2H) Programme: An examination of Malaysia as a destination for international retirees. Tourism Management, 40, 203-212.

Business culture in Singapore. (2016). Retrieved 14 November 2016, from

Code of Business Ethics | Avanade Malaysia. (2016). Retrieved 14 November 2016, from

Communication, D. (2013). Culture Presentation on Malaysia. Retrieved 14 November 2016, from

Culbertson, H. M., & Chen, N. (2013). International public relations: A comparative analysis. Routledge.

Department of Statistics Malaysia Official Portal. (2016). Retrieved 14 November 2016, from

Doing business – Malaysia – For Australian exporters - Austrade. (2016). Retrieved 14 November 2016, from

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Koslowski, P. (Ed.). (2013). Contemporary economic ethics and business ethics. Springer Science & Business Media.

Krishnan, G. P. (2015). Expressions of faith in hindu processional festivals: case studies from singapore and malaysia. Indian and Chinese Immigrant Communities: Comparative Perspectives, 137.

Malaysia - Geert Hofstede. (2016). Retrieved 14 November 2016, from

Malaysia is the Third Best Country to Retire In - MM2H. (2016). MM2H. Retrieved 14 November 2016, from

Moran, R. T., Abramson, N. R., & Moran, S. V. (2014). Managing cultural differences. Routledge.

Noor, N. M., & Leong, C. H. (2013). Multiculturalism in Malaysia and Singapore: Contesting models. International journal of intercultural relations, 37(6), 714-726.

Rallapalli, K. C., & Montgomery, C. D. (2015). Marketing Strategies For Asian-Americans: Guidelines Based on Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions. In Minority Marketing: Research Perspectives for the 1990s (pp. 73-77). Springer International Publishing.

Tan, C. H., & Ho, S. B. (2014). Tourists, Expatriates and International Retirees: An Empirical Evidence from Malaysia. In SHS Web of Conferences(Vol. 12, p. 01034). EDP Sciences.

Yee Mun, C., Yok Fee, L., Jawan, J., & Singh Darshan, S. (2015). From individual choice to collective actions: ethnic consciousness in Malaysia reconsidered. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 38(2), 259-274.

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