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Guide To Malaysia

Learn Acholi LanguageGeneral Culture:History:

During world war II the British were in the control of the country that was then called Malaya. In 1942 the japanese invaded and ousted the British. In 1945 when world war II ended the British resumed control of the country. Malaya's independence movement had started under the guidence of Tunku Abdul Rahman and in 1957 Malaya gained independence with Tunku becoming their first prime minister. Information taken from www.geographia.com/malaysia/history04.htm

1957 - present day:

After Malaya gained independence on August 31, 1957 they were presented with a number of new problems. The first issue to be resolved was which territories would be included in the new state. In 1961 the country became known as Malaysia as it is now. This was after prime minister Tunku persuaded Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak to join Malaya in a federal union. In 1965 Singapore opted out of the union as we now see it as an independent country from Malaysia. Information taken from www.geographia.com/malaysia/history04.htm

The formation of Malaysia caused opposition from both the Philippines and Indonesia because they both believed they had territorial claims to eastern parts of Malaysia. Information taken from www.istc.org

Another challenge for the newly formed Malaysia was that of national identity. The people of Malaysia were a real mix of races and culture and uniting them under a common flag was not an easy task. Malays represented the majority and were given the key positions in government, national religion became Islam and the National language became Malay. It was the Chinese that dominated business and trade and the result was many Malays were suffering economic hardship. The government which was controlled by the United Malay National Organization passed the new Economic policy that aimed to increase opportunities for the Malays by establishing various quotas in their favor. This decision did not appease the Chinese. In 1969 there were violent riots in Kuala lumpar between the Chinese and Malays the country was set in state of emergency for two years, this is the most painful memory in the nations history. The last two decades have been very successful for Malaysia with great growth, prosperity and significant progress in race relations. Many attribute this progress to Prime Minister Mahahir bin Mohammed who led the country since 1981.

Recent History:

As a member of the British Commonwealth Malaysia proudly presented the Commonwealth Games in 1998. Most recently Malaysia was hit with the secondary shadow wave of the 2004 tsunami which traveled at 160 km/h. The impact resulted in 68 deaths and $25 million of damage, areas affected were Penang, Langkawi, Kedah, Perlis and Perak. In the resort areas of Langkawi and Penang clean up efforts were quick and beachfront hotels were back to full operating capacity within two weeks.

Information taken from www.istc.org

Country profile: Malaysia is located in Southeastern Asia bordering with Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei. There are 13 states 11 in western Malaysia these are Perlis, Pahang, Perak, Penang, Selangor, Kedah, Kelantan, Johor, Malacca, Terengganu, Negri Sembilan. East Malaysia consists of Sabah and Sarawak. The total area size of the country 329, 750 sq km, and is slightly larger than New Mexico in comparative size. The typical climate is tropical. Malaysia has possible natural hazards of flooding, landslides and forest fires. Malaysian population is 24, 385, 858 and has a population growth of 1.78%. The ethnic breakdown in Malaysia is 50.4% Malay, 23.7% Chinese, 11% Indigenous, 7.1% Indian and others such as Americans, Europeans 7.8%. Information taken from www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/my.html

Crime: The overall crime rate in Malaysia is low and violent crime against foreigners is rare the most common crimes against foreigners is petty theft and credit card fraud. The current biggest issues are with purse snatching and credit card fraud. Although burglaries do occur they are rare in occupied residencies and are also rare in apartments. Information from www.osac.gov

Malaysian Government system: The present administrative center is located in Putrajaya. Of Malaysia's 13 states nine are headed by their Royal Highnesses, the sultans. Penang and Melaka and the states of Sabah and Sarawak are under the care of the governor. The federal territories in Sabah which includes capital city Kuala Lumpar each have a Mayor. Putrajaya is located just 25 km south of Kuala Lumpar and houses the Government office complexes. Putrajaya is a futuristic city that houses people in a lavish mosque and comes complete with its own wetlands and nature highlights.

The head of the Malaysian nation is known asYang di-pertuan Agong and his position is shared with the Sultans of the nine royal states. Elected by his fellow Sultans the Yang di-Pertuan Agong keeps his position for five years then passes on the duties to another Sultan. The very first Yang di-Pertuan Agong was given the position based on seniority. The Malaysian government system is a parliamentary democracy and similar to the British system. The democracy is headed by the Prime Minister and his deputy. A host of minsters all work closely together to implement the government polices that are so crucial to future development of Malaysia.

The Prime Minister is the leader is the political party and general elections are held every five years. The Prime Minister names his cabinet and then discusses the appointment of ministers with the current Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Malaysia has seen tremendous growth especially within the last 25 years. The current government takes issues such as Education, Healthcare as well as Social Security. As part of a continued effort to benefit the entire Malaysian society Schools and Hospitals are heavily subsidized by the government. One issue that the Malaysian government are very serious over is Drug Trafficking. On this issue the government is not willing to negotiate. Depending on the exact circumstances the penalty is either death by hanging or life imprisonment. These penalties have been handed out to both the locals and foreigners and is one area the government will rarely compromise.

Information taken from www.kuala-lumpur.ws/ourgovernment/index.html

Religion: As a very diverse and multi-cultural country all of the worlds major religions are represented in Malaysia. The biggest religion is Islam, as in many Muslim countries Islam has seen a major revival in the past 10 years. All of the Malay population are ardent Muslims and to suggest anything less would cause great offense to a Malay. The Koran is the main source of religious law for Malays although few are proficient in Arabic. All Malay children are sent to learn and read the Koran. There is an annual Koran reading competition and passages of the Koran are read at Malay ceremonies. It is appropriate for visitors to be discreet in dress and behavior.

The Chinese religion is a combination of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. The Taoism is do with harmony with the universe. Confucianism is concerned with the political and moral aspects of life and Buddhism takes care of the afterlife. The view that the Chinese have three religions isn't quite correct as the religions are combined into one. At the first level the religion holds the belief of the innate vital energy is things around us such as rocks, trees, rivers and springs. At the second level idol worship sets in with people from the distant past both real and mythological are worshiped as gods. On top of this are the beliefs of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism.

Hinduism flourished in the courts before the coming of Islam in the 15th century. Hinduism was used to bolster the authority of the ruling classes. It believed to have come about due to the early Hindu traders across the Indian Ocean. Relics and remains have been found in Kedah as further evidence.

Sikhism owes it belongings mainly due to the British connection. The Sikhs believe and worship in the one and only god who is formless, thus idol worship is evil and a sin in the Sikhs scriptures. The Sikhs place of worship is known as Gurdwara. All are welcome at a Gurdwara regardless of race, religion or sex. The Sikh New Year is called Vasakhi and celebrated each year in April.

Christianity was bought to the country in part by International trade. Some Persian traders were Nestorian Christians. In the middle ages Catholic Diplomats, travelers and priests traveled through on their way to China. Churches were established in the area with the coming of the Portuguese in 1511, Dutch in 1641, and the British in 1786. Christian missionaries played a key role in the field of education and medical services by establishing Schools and Hospitals in various parts of the country. Information taken from Tourism Malaysia www.asia-planet.net/malaysia/religion.htm

Malaysia National Day: Malaysia gained its independence from the British on August 31st, 1957 and now celebrates their independence ever year on August 31, this is often known as National Day. In Malaysia the National Day celebrations are known as Merdeka. On the eve of Merdeka there are lavish celebrations in a carnival atmosphere with dancing, spectacular fireworks and performances by local artists. The Malaysian national flag known as Jalur Gemilang is raised at midnight while the Malaysian citizens chant Merdeka. On Merdeka day itself exhibitions are displayed showing the history of Malaysia there is also firework displays. This is an official holiday day in Malaysia.

Information taken from www.travour.com/tours-to-malaysia/festivals-in-malaysia/merdeka-celebration.html

Malaysian Currency and Asian Financial Crisis: The currency in Malaysia is the Ringgit it is divided into 100 sen and the currency code MYR. In Malay the currency of Singapore and Brunei is also known as Ringgit for this reason the Malaysian Ringgit is abbreviated to RM. The translation of the Rinngit in Malay is jagged which was originally used to describe the serrated edges of Spanish silver dollars that were heavily circulated in the area. In 1997 Malaysia suffered as a result of the Asian financial crisis. Foreign direct investment started to fall at alarming levels. Ringgit started at 2.50 to the dollar and moved to 4.80 to the dollar at the bottom as capital flowed out. The kuala Lumpar took a drastic change starting out at 1300 fell as low as 400 points in just a few short weeks. The Malaysian government reacted to this by doing two things pegging the Rinngit to the dollar and refusing aid from the International Monterrey Fund(IMF). The rinngit was pegged to the dollar 3.80 to a dollar. Malaysia also refused aid, as it often came with specific lending conditions. By making these decisions Malaysia ensured that they were not as badly hit by the Asian Financial Crisis as Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. The GDP was affected with a 7.5% contraction in 1998.

Things quickly improved afterwards with growth of 5.6% in 1999 and much improvement in 2000 with growth towards 8%. The Malaysian government then made efforts to rebuild the economy to the levels it was at before the Asian Crisis. This was achieved by massive government spending as Malaysia recorded budget deficits in the years that followed. Malaysia then took full advantage of its biggest trading and investment partner the United States. Malaysia saw a big increase in exports of electronic and electrical products to the United States. There has been continued period of low interest rates due to no significant inflationary pressure. Malaysia that enjoyed faster economic recovery than its neighbors, however in many way they have yet to have achieved the same levels as before 1997. The pegging system was abandoned in July 2005 and Malaysia reverted to floating system and within an hour China followed this move. The ringgitt began to strengthen a percentage against major world currencies. Since December 2005 there has been no further strengthening of the ringgitt this is despite large positive current account surplus meanwhile foreign reserves have started to fall at a rapid rate. The current exchanage rate states that one US dollar is equal to 3.68 ringgit.

Information taken from www.answer.com/topic/economy-of-malaysia

Languages: With half the population of Malaysia Malay the official language on the country is Malay. Also heavily spoken are English and Chinese languages of Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka , Hainan and Foochow. Other major languages are Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi and Thai. In Eastern Malaysian areas there are indigenous languages because this is where most indigenous live and the most widely spoken are Iban and Kadazan. Information taken from www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/my.html It is interesting to note that English is the principal language used in Business in Malaysia. Information taken from www2.gol.com/users/coynerhm/malaysia_etiquette.htm

Climate: The climate in Malaysia is generally tropical and humid. That being said there can be a significant difference between the climate in the lowlands and the highlands. The temperature range in the lowlands which includes capital city Kuala Lumpur is 70 - 90 f although it can be hotter during the summer months. Generally Malaysia has high humidity which is typical 80%. The highlands can have cooler temperatures even in the summer months areas such as the Cameron highlands with temperatures around 60 f fairly common.

As is common in many tropical countries Malaysia has two distinct seasons the wet and dry season. Typically the dry season runs from may to September and the wet season runs mid November to March. Generally Malaysia has heavy annual rainfall of around 100 inches. On a typical rainy day there is often a heavy downpour with thunder and lightning. This will usually last for an hour or two. Information taken from www.expatkl.com/v3_geography_climate2.php?ref=1

Education: Education in Malaysia is available from a number of different sources generally these are government sponsored schools(public schools) private schools or homeschooling. State and local government has very little influence on the curriculum or any other major aspects of education and standardized testing is common place. The education system is overseen by Malaysian Ministry of Education and the 2006 budget is 1.2 Billion RM. The Malaysian Ministry of Education was established in 1956. Generally the primary languages of education are Malay, English, Mandarin, Chinese and Tamil. The stages of education in Malaysia is Pre-school, Primary Education, Secondary Education, Tertiary Education and Postgraduate. Only Primary Education in Malaysia is mandated by the government it is not a criminal offense to neglect the education needs of a child after six years of primary education. The Primary and Secondary education in government schools in handled by the Minsitry of Education, but for Tertiary education policies are handled by the Ministry of Higher Education which was created in 2004.

Another type of schools in Malaysia are Islamic Religious Schools. These schools concentrate on the teachings of Islam. Subjects include early Islamic history, Arabic and Fiqh. It is not required but some states require all muslim children from six to twelve to attend as a complement to the required primary education. The secondary school system is based of the British school system and is 5 years of schooling referred to as forms 1 - 5. At the end of the five years students must sit an examination known as SPM, which is the Malaysian Certificate of Education examination. As of this year on the English SPM paper student are given a GCE 'O' Level grade as well based on the essay portion of the exam. This secondary grade is not part of their final certificates but is included on their results slip. Earlier this year there has been widespread criticism stating there is to much emphasis to A's. There is also debate on the number of subjects being taken for the SPM with some students taking as many as 16 which is deemed as unnecessary.

There are several options open pre university which has come under some amount of criticism. The first option is staying on to study form 6 which is a two year program again based off the British A-Level program. The program is split into two parts the lower six for the first year and the upper six for the second year. Another option is matriculation which is a one year program open to all students. That being said 90% of the places are reserved for Bumiputeras. Bumiputeras represent 60% of the total population in Malaysia and the majority of them are Malays. Many people are of the opinion that the matriculation is a bit of a cop out and is generally regarded as an easier route than form six, and just stands to give the Bumiputeras population an easy route to university. There is also the option of attending a private college there are several options for students their. The main ones are the British A-level program and the Canadian matriculation program. There is also the option of other national system such as the Austalian NSW Board of studies Higher School Certificate or the American High School Diploma with AP subjects. Even more recently the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program is becoming more popular as an option before university.

University level education is referred to as Tertiary education and in order to get into a public university must have completed either the matriculation or STPM, which is the British A-level system or six form. Doing well in these exams doesn't ensure university entrance as selection is based on a number of factors and no guidelines exist. Racial quotas are a controversial issue is public university selection that seem to favor the Malay population. There was evidence of this in 2004 when 128 students who gained the best ever grades for a university application 5 A's on the STPM. All of these students were denied their first choice of medicine and the only thing they had in common was they were non-Malay. Although all these students get offers from private institutions many did not study medicine because of lack of funds.

Post graduate degrees are an option after students have completed their first degree and master degrees are becoming more and more popular. Many of the private and public universities now offer master degrees. As an alternative to a university degree students may study professional style vocation courses . The religious schools do not offer a route to university forcing students to continue their studies in a foreign country. .

There are racial issues in schools with concerns that students are not encouraged to mix with the various races within Malaysia. This is being blamed on the amount of Islam being taught in schools and is coming into all areas not just religious classes.

There has been many issues as regards to language taught in schools in Malaysia especially because Malay is the national language. Schools that were not considered national schools were using the Chinese languages, but there has been some reform. Now English is used to teach key subjects such as English and Mathematics to ensure Malaysia doesn't get left behind in the global world. Also because of this issues surrounding language the Chinese languages are now offered as electives.

There are also gender concerns at the university level with considerable less boys than girls in tertiary education. Certain statistics show that twice as many girls are in public universities than boys, and there is also a high drop out rate amongst boys. The problems this may cause in the workforce strangely seems to of worked itself out. Only 5% of women are working in management and professional positions in the country. Information taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki_education_in_malaysia

Malaysian Culture: As discussed the biggest section of the population of Malaysia is Malay and all of Malays are Muslim. Due to this fact many of the culture values and customs in Malaysia are based off Islam beliefs. Some Malay men wear a black velvet cap this is called the songkok and many Malay men wear the songkok on Fridays. Friday is the Muslim pray day and services are attended in a Mosque to accommodate this Friday lunch time is from 11:30 to 2:30 pm. Muslim men must cover their heads with the praying on Fridays within the Mosque. Malay women can wear what they like although they must cover their heads for prayers. Be aware that there are prayer rooms in many public places, make sure your aware what it is and don't mistake it for the rest room.

Be aware of the local culture towards touching, kissing and hand gestures. In Malaysia it is considered rude to touch another person in crowed situations keep your hands close to you to demonstrate your culturally sensitive. Deliberate touching such as hand shaking is acceptable, but be aware you may receive more of a touch on your hand than a handshake. Among conservative people men do not shake hands with women, but bow to each other. Be especially careful as regards to children touching their head is not acceptable. People in Malaysia believe that the head is spiritually and vulnerable and if not handled carefully may injure. Couples be aware that kissing in public is not generally acceptable this is the case even amongst relatives and children. Be especially careful of direct pointing with one finger in fact it is only done as a deliberate insult. If you find yourself in a situation where you want to point something out do so with your entire hand. Children are taught that if they point their finger at a heavenly body it will drop off. Definitely don't crook your finger and ask someone to come to you this is used by prostitutes to encourage custom. Be aware that it is considered polite to remove your shoes before entering someones house or temple. Generally you should dress conservative short shorts and short dresses/skirts may cause offense. Also your get better service if your dressed conservatively. Don't criticize the government this is seen as a great insult. Information taken from www.dalat.org

An unique Malaysian concept is the open house. Typically when someone hosts a festival friends, families and strangers visit the hosts house to wish them well and enjoy the feast. During festival season there is an annual pilgrimage of city folk to their respective hometowns, and cities like Kuala Lumpur can often become ghost towns during this period. There is an alternative to club culture popular with the young. The sight of late night food stalls come as popular places to hang out all through the night and demonstrates how places like Kuala Lumpur never sleeps. Information from www.best-of-langkawi.com

Malaysian Food: Malaysia has one of the worlds truly diverse cuisine. Its possible to have a different dish every day for a year and still not try them all. The good news is that eating out in Malaysia is relatively inexpensive. The major different types of Malaysian cuisine are Malay, Chinese, Indian and Nyonya. Information taken from www.asia-planet.net As is generally true in Asian cuisine rice is a staple diet and can be eating for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Rice is generally eaten almost exclusively with your fingers. Fish, Chicken and Beef are all very popular choices in Malay cuisine. There is no pork in Malay cuisine as this is against the Islam beliefs. Popular dishes in Malay cooking are Nasi Dagang, Keropok Lekor/keping, Ayam Goreng, and Laksam. Nasi Dagang is princply a rice dish made by the mixing of cooking rice and glutinous rice. Keropok Lekor/Keping is a popular Malay fried snack, the Keropok is made of grounded fish mixed with sago. Its comes in two main forms the long chewy ones are known as Lekor and the thin crispy Keping. It is typically served with a chili dip. Ayam Goreng is a spicy fried chicken dish. Laksam is made using wheat and rice flours and is steamed. The gravy to accomply it is made of purified fish and mixed with coconut milk. Information taken from www.marimari.com

The Chinese dishes use rice as a staple served with a number of vegetables and heavily featured are noodles in many variates. Indian food are principly very spicy but a lot of other flavors are also added to give a delightful combination. Nyonya food is in a way a different type of Chinese food with influences from many areas including incorporating Malay cuisine. Generally the food in Malaysia has some really wonderful flavors, there are all different kinds of Asian cuisine as well as flavors from all over the world. There are also many tropical Malay fruits perhaps the most notorious is the Durian which has an strong unpleasant scent, but is a real delicacy that commands a high price. Its often described as the king of all fruits. Information taken from www.asia-planet.net

Conducting Business in Malaysia:

General Management: The biggest principle thing that dictates moving Malaysia forward is Vision 2020. The idea first started in the year 2000 and the aim is to become a fully developed country by the year 2020. The year 2020 was selected because when referring to eye sight 2020 is seen as perfect clear vision. This is an analogy of where Malaysia wants to be by the year 2020. The vision is based of the strength of the Malaysian economy prior to the events of the Asian Financial crisis. The Malaysian economy has since recovered and is in a strong position. Information from www.unpan1.un.org

Negotiations: People in Malaysia are firm believers in the relationship approach to business. Don't try and rush a deal because people in Malaysia are much more interested in doing business with people they know. A good way to begin to earn trust and get to know your Malaysian counter part is small talk. Be patient and expect it to take time before you reach an agreement. A word of caution once you have a written contract that doesn't necessary mean that much, as its customary to continue to negotiate after the contract.

Information from www.worldroom.com

There are three key concepts to bear in mind while negotiating with Malaysians these are Face, High context culture and Fatalism. Face is a concept evident in a lot of Asian cultures, to lose face is to lose control of ones emotions and cause public embarrassment it is seen as a negative behavior. Malaysians will often use laughter to conceal their true feelings and avoid losing face. Be aware of this concept because if you cause your Malaysian counterpart to lose face you may severely affect your business relationship. High context cultures are more interested in indirect communication such as body language. Direct answers are rarely given because Malaysian want to preserve the relationship they feel the main purpose of communication is developing relationships rather than exchanging information and facts. Malaysians will look to prevent disagreements and preserve harmony as these are important values in Malaysia. Fatalism also plays a big part in negotiations and this is the belief that success, failures, opportunities and misfortune are due to the will of god. This is important to remember because in Business Negotiations it will be hard to persuade based on evidence or hard facts. Especially the Malay Malaysians will instead make decisions based on subjective feelings and Islamic faith. Again patience is the key and remember Malaysians are likely to make decisions based on personal factors or their subjective feelings than on facts and figures.

Information from www.communicaid.com/malaysia-business-culture.asp

Also be aware when setting up business meetings that whenever possible its best to not schdule meetings for Fridays. These is because Friday is the Muslim pray day. Information from www.communicaid.com

Business and Social Protocol: When introduced to a Malaysian person refer to them by their first name preceded by their appropriate title such as Dr or Mr. In Malaysian business there is large portion of people from Chinese descent and will typically have a three syllable name and the surname precedes the first names. For instance a Chinese Malaysian called Lee Ming-teh should be referred as Mr Lee. Information from www2.gol.com/users/coynerhm/malaysia_etiquette.htm

Although the different groups of people have slightly different ideas on how they view time the general rule is its best to be punctual. Generally the language of business in Malaysia is English, however be aware that communication with government officials should be conducted in Malay. Titles are very important in Malaysian business culture they are important to show how important an employee is in an organization. Again ensure that you address all your Malaysian counterparts correctly. There is a level of respect in organizations, for instance employees don't address their managers by first name. They would be addressed by a title such as sir or madam followed by there proper title for instance Dr Chang. When meeting for the first time with your Malaysian counterparts a firm handshake is appropriate. Remember though that men and women in Malaysia do not typically shake hands so unless initiated a nod or bow is what is best. In the business world it is not customary to give gifts this is because they can often be seen as a bribe. If you are given a gift then accept it with both hands and wait until you have left your Malaysian friends before opening it. Remember to reciprocate with a gift of equal value to ensure you don't lose face. Remember loss of face could ruin your business relationship so this is very important. Business cards are typically exchanged after an initial introduction and with a large proportion of Malaysian business people Chinese it would be useful if the business card was written in Chinese on the other side. Also be sure to carefully examine the business card before placing it in a pocket or briefcase.

Information from www.communicaid.com

Gift Giving: One of the most important thing to find out before giving a Malaysian person a gift is what origin they are and even more important what religion they are. Remember Malays are Muslim and of the Islam religion whereas Chinese are not. If giving gifts to a Malay never give alcohol or products made from pigskin as these are against the Islam religion. Also remember if your recipient is a Chinese Malaysian then alcohol is appropriate. Another cautionary note is avoid yellow where possible both as a wrapping and as the actual gift. This is because yellow is a color associated to royalty in Malaysia. Information from www2.gol.com/users/coynerhm/malaysia_etiquette.htm

Remember Malaysian are keen to establish a relationship before they trust you this also pertains to gift giving. Its important that before you consider giving a gifts you remember Malaysians favor relationships and if you don't have a personal relationship with the recipient the gift may be seen as a bribe. An overly expensive gift is generally not a good idea as you could get in trouble with the authorities as the gift may be seen as a bribe. If you receive a gift do not reciprocate with a gift of greater value.

Good business gifts include the following: Pens Desk Accessories Items representative of your country Good social gifts: Food or other item representative of your country

If male be caitious of given a gift to a women because in the Malaysian culture this may show romantic intent. Malaysian business protocol requires that the man should explain gift is from his wife. Never wrap gifts in white this color is associated with death, blue, black and yellow wrapping should also be avoided.

Information from www.1worldglobalgifts.com

Gift guidelines for Malays: If invited to a Malays home bring small gifts for the family and present gifts upon leaving not arriving.

Good gift choices: Alcohol free perfume for hostess Toys for children Fine cotton shirts for men Food can also be good gifts but bear in mind that meat products must be halal which is the Muslim equivalent to Kosher. Avoid the following: Alcohol and products containing alcohol such as certain perfumes Pork Personal items such as underwear Toy dogs or gifts that picture dogs Gifts with images of nude or partially clad women even in artistic form

Guidelines for Chinese Malaysians: Be aware that it is a Chinese custom to decline gifts three times before finally accepting this is done to prevent the recipient appearing to acquisitive. When you are offered a gift you are expected to do as the Chinese do. Give an even number of flowers to a Chinese person an odd number will only be perceived as a bad omen. At Chinese New Year it is customary to give a gift of money to children and service personnel in a red envelope. Again only an even amount of money. Red or Pink are the safest colors to wrap gifts for Chinese Malaysians.

Gifts to Avoid: Gifts or wrappings where the colors are white, black or blue Knives, scissors or cutting tools they suggest the severing of a friendship or similar close bond clocks, towels, handkerchiefs, straw sandals Guidelines for Indian Malaysians: Hindus do not eat beef or use any cattle products, leather goods of any kind should not be given as gifts . The Indians believe that odd numbers are lucky. When giving money give in odd numbers, and give gifts in odd numbers. Do not give any gifts of multiples of three because these are considered unlucky. Also don't give the flower frangipani as it is considered a funeral flower. Information from www.1worldglobalgifts.com

Preparation for assignment: Language Lessons: Although the national language of Malaysia is Malay it is not necessary to be able to speak Malay to get business done. This is because the language of business in Malaysia is English. If you decide you would like to try and learn some Malay then we recommend the Berlitz Language Center located here in Kuala Lumpar the address is listed below. Wisma UOA Building Ground Floor 50 Jalan Dungun Kuala Lumpar 50490 Tel: +60 3 2093 1619

Information from www.languagesource.com Cost of Living: Generally the cost of living in Malaysia is relatively low. When looking for items around the markets a bargain can always be picked up and bargaining is expected. Generally Asian products are available at bargain prices from clothing to high end electronics. It is a good idea to stay away from designer European and American goods which have been imported and will be high in price. A common feature in Malaysia are food stalls in the cities, which can be as cheap as RM 3.00 for a bowl of noodles. Another good thing to bear in mind is that appearance doesn't always matter. The less exciting looking places often have the best food. On average you can expect to pay around RM 80.00 for a party of four eating out at an ordinary restaurant. As a general rule its best to stick to the native cuisine although many international dishes are now served these are often the items that carry the higher price tags. An important note is that don't go to expensive places just for superior service. The service in Malaysia is not well developed service can be slow, inept or even rude. Often restaurants up the price of the meal with alcohol especially fine wines. A typical glass of wine can cost RM20.

Accommodation: Generally the cost of living in Kuala Lumpur is relatively low, but the city if fairly highly populated so finding appropriate accommodation may not be that easy. However we have taken the lead on this one and selected appropriate residencies. The place we have selected is SuCasa Service Apartments located at 222, Jalan Ampang City Center 50450 in Kuala Lumpur. These apartments have everything your need and is what is known as a Serviced Apartment. All utilities are included in the monthly rent and there is no lease to sign so you want be locked in. The location could hardly be better right in Kuala Lumpar center with easy access to all the Dining, Entertainment and shopping as well as the second tallest buildings in the world the Petronas Twin Towers. All apartments have: Tastefully fully furnished Fully equipped kitchen Separate living and dining area The building also features the following facilities: Airy and spacious lobby 24-hour guest services Foreign Exchange Message Service Security Deposit Box Security lift card system Fully equipped business center with secretarial service, courier service, Internet facilities & Travel Arrangements Recreational facilities with Gymnasium, Swimming Pool Housekeeping services Laundry & Dry Cleaning Maintenance Service Limousine Service Scheduled Shuttle Service Parking Bay 24 hour security Prices start at RM4, 300 for a room bedroom which equates to about $1075 monthly. The following may be useful:

Information taken from www.moveandstay.com Public Transportation: Taxis are relatively inexpensive, but you may have trouble getting the driver to use the meter. Typically Taxis are a bargaining process so precede with caution. In some places in Kuala Lumpar taxis work on a prepaid coupon system. This is often more expensive that metered rates, but cheaper than bargaining so it is generally recommended. Almost certainly the best way to get around the city is the LRT or Light Rail Transit it is newly completed and fairly comprehensive. Below is a map of the routes.

Some useful stations are: Bukit Bintang for shopping in the Golden Triangle Bukit Nanas for clubbing at P.Ramlee KLCC Kuala Lumpar center with twin towers and shopping mall Masjid Jamek LRT interchange as well as access to Chinatown and Little India Plaza Rakyat for puduraya bus station There are also buses that work out quite well. All buses depart from hubs and they are all accessible through the rail network. There are several different bus operators and the system can be a little complex, but once you get used to it your be able to get around the city perfectly well. Information from www.wikitravel.org Visa requirements: A work permit/visa in required in order to conduct business in Malaysia. With this visa you will be allowed: Attend business meetings or discussions Attend sales calls to potential Malaysian client provided that the employee represents a commercial entity outside Malaysia Attend seminars or fact finding meetings The business visa may be extended within Malaysia if valid business reasons can be given for the extension. There are some basic requirements to apply for a business visa these are: Must have a residence and a employer outside of Malaysia and must be traveling to Malaysia for a defined limited period, not to exceed the authorized period May not receive compensation from sources within Malaysia Must have proof of adequate funds to defray expenses while on business visit Must have specific, realistic and pre-determined plans for his/her stay in Malaysia The period of stay must be consistent with the intended purpose of the trip For the visa you will need: Valid passport Completed application form Letter from employer stating the purpose and length of trip as well as financial responsibility during the business trip in Malaysia Proof of legal residence in the country where the application is being submitted Two passport sized photos Travel itinerary Application fee Information from www.pubweb.com

By James Kent - James Kent has been an online content writer for the last six years or so. He is also the Editor and Owner of a Norwich City fans site called Canaries Chatter that has a growing audience. James specializes i...  

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