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5 Quirky Aspects Of Malaysian Work Culture

Two Malaysian ladies at work
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Every country has their quirks in cultures and practices. With Malaysia being the cultural melting-pot that it is, distinctive features of its’ working culture have been noted, some of which may make you go “that’s so us lah!”.

1. Don’t worry, I’ll do my best!

The culture in Malaysia is simple. If you hire someone to do something, you will be assured that they will do their best. What they don’t tell you is how qualified they are for their job. It doesn’t matter what you’re asking them to do however, the response is always the same.

The natural Malaysian humility is a double-edged sword. Knowing that the person will do their best can put you at ease, but there’s a difference between doing their best and actually getting the job done.

Western countries tend to prefer when employees give the affirmation that the job will be completed no matter what. “Yes, it will be done”, is very different from “I’ll do my best”. So if you’re from a different culture, you may be in for some surprises when it comes to crunch time.

2. Showing Up Late To Work

Let’s face it, whether we mean to or not, hardly any of us arrive on time to work. The policy may be that work starts at 9, but occasionally showing up at 10 is perfectly fine (by occasionally, I mean multiple times in a week!).

Most of the time, the excuse revolves around getting stuck in traffic – which is, by all means, a perfectly valid reason if your commute involves the highways. In reality, most of us just have trouble getting out of bed in the mornings (and then we get stuck in traffic, but who’s really keeping track?).

While this may be part of our culture, it’s one that our neighbours down-south would be perplexed by. In Singapore, if a train runs a minute late, there would be a public execution the next day. Well, not literally, but you get the point.

Likewise, meetings in Malaysia are hardly ever punctual unless absolutely necessary.

“Aiya, 2.00pm he said what. Now only 2.15, we go in 5 minutes.” – some Malaysian employee, probably.

3. The After-lunch Nap
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