Our country is a multi-ethnic, multicultural and multilingual society that comprising Malays, Chinese, Indians and some indigenous tribes. Malay and native indigenous groups make up 50.4% of the population while Chinese comprised 23.7%, the second largest ethnic group. Although the Malays and the Chinese hold the similar citizenship in one nation, but due to the religion, they in fact have their own unique and distinctive cultural identities. For instance, the Malays mostly are Muslims and they do not eat pork, whereas most of the Chinese in our country are not prohibited to eat pork unless some of them are abide by the rules of the religion of Buddhism.
Because of the feudalistic thoughts which have been passed down by the ancestors over the centuries, the Chinese people generally do not like the number “four ”, as it sounds like “death” in Mandarin and some Chinese dialects such as Cantonese and Hokkien. However, there is no such taboo in Malays’ culture. The Malays prefer to have repeated “four” for their vehicle number plates while the Chinese refrain to deal with the number “four” due to the immense influence of ancestors.
All ethnic Malays are Muslim in our country. According to the tenets of the Islamic faith, dog is fall under “Najis Berat” in the religion of Islam, which falls in the same category as pig. As we know that Muslims are not allowed to touch, eat, and keep pig. This applies the same to the dog. Muslims cannot adopt dogs as pets unless it is for guarding purpose. In addition, the dog must guard outside the house and not remain inside. The majority of Chinese people treat dogs as pets, and even as friends. The Chinese can groom their pets without any constraint; they can even touch dogs’ saliva, but this kind of action is severely prohibited in the world of Islam.
One of the significant differences between nonverbal practices in both Malay’s and Chinese’s culture is the way of greeting people . Malay women shake hands with men is forbidden, and vice versa. But Malay women may shake hands with members of the same sex. However, the handshake is also the way of greeting in Chinese social context. But Chinese men and women may shake hands with each other, provided the Chinese woman extends her hand first. While many older Chinese will lower their eyes during the handshake as a sign of respect, the Malays may place the hand on their heart after shaking hand with others to show their respects.
According to Islamic custom, in the occasion of funeral , the Malays should not show their grief in public. Instead, the funeral should be solemnly held and the dead should be buried as soon as possible. On the contrary, due to the influence of Confucian virtue the members of Chinese younger generation are urged to cry out loudly and sorrowfully during the burial ritual, for the sake of manifesting their filial pieties. Usually, a funeral of Chinese will be held at least three days, the number of days implies the value of dignity the deceased had.