Fun Facts about Global Gifting: Malaysia

Fun Facts about Global Gifting: Malaysia

Week by week, we're working our way around the globe...
In our previous Friday blogs about cross-cultural gifting, we've established why finding a gift for your friends from other lands can be a minefield of potential social and cultural faux pas. Stick with us and we'll help you avoid such frustrations (and embarrassments)... this week in Malaysia where the population is a complex mosaic of people groups.

If you will be visiting Malaysia for business or on a vacation, avoid wearing the color yellow. It is reserved for Malaysian royalty.

Business Gift Giving...
As Malaysia is a multi-ethnic society, it's essential to adapt your gift choices to your business partners. Business gifts are not usually exchanged and in some circumstances they can be perceived as a bribe. In the event that you are presented with a gift, it is customary to accept it with both hands and open the gift after your Malaysian colleagues have left. Be sure to reciprocate with a gift of equal value at a later time.

Recommended business gifts include good quality pens, desk accessories, or regional items representative of your country or city.

Personal Gift Giving...
Malaysian culture is multi-ethnic but there are three major ethnicities: Malays, Chinese, and Indians. Each of these groups has its own distinct gift giving protocols. For example:

- Malays generally follow Muslim guidelines. Gifts are not usually opened when received. Food gifts must be "halal" or permissible by Muslim law. If you aren't well versed in these protocols, it's best to avoid giving food gifts, and avoid alcohol entirely. In addition, perfumes or colognes must be alcohol-free. Offer your gift with the right hand only or with both hands if it is heavy. Red or green wrapping paper is the best choice (avoid white). Avoid toy dogs or pigs and anything made of pigskin (for example, a football).

- Indians generally follow Hindu guidelines. Gifts are not usually opened when received. Choose red, yellow, green or other bright colors for wrapping paper but avoid black and white. A gift of flowers or chocolate is an appropriate hostess gift, but Frangipani flowers carry a negative connotation, so avoid those. Avoid leather products and give alcohol only if you know your recipient would approve. Give gifts of money in odd numbers but avoid giving items in multiples of three.

- Chinese - Gifts are not opened when they are received.  Definitely wrap your gifts and choose paper in red, pink, or yellow (avoiding blue, black and white). Hostess gifts are welcomed and fruit, sweets, or cakes are good choices. When presenting these items, say it is for the children. Candy and fruit baskets can be sent the next day. Give gifts in even numbers - odd numbers are considered unlucky. Gifts to avoid include: scissors, knives, flowers (they're only given to the sick or used at funerals), clocks, handkerchiefs, and straw sandals.

There are lots of other #funfacts to learn as our blog treks around the globe. We welcome YOUR gift giving experiences in the blog comments, below...


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