What’s the difference between Singapore and Malaysia?

Mudassir Ali
Feb 12, 2020 05:08 AM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Feb 12, 2020 05:08 AM

As someone who stays for years in both countries…

One big difference I see between Singapore and Malaysia is the way we do things.

Singapore adores systems and due process. In fact we adore it so much we will sometimes follow procedures that don’t even make sense just because they happen to be in place.

If you try asking a normal Singaporean employee to be more flexible and smooth things along, you will get what I mean. We very seldom agree to do things outside of our procedures.

In Malaysia, most people learn to live by applying common sense and situational assessment instead of following a system.

Because in Malaysia the government can sometimes make policies that change rapidly and are ambiguous, malaysians have learnt to be comfortable living with uncertainties.

They have this ‘boleh’ culture that means just do whatever that makes sense and benefits everyone in a situation, rather than follow the rules strictly.

Of course, rules are there for a reason…so sometimes by not following rules strictly, malaysians also cause problems for themselves when everyone abuse it E.g. Parking double lane in narrow streets.

Another difference is Malaysians tend to be more emotion driven, rather than task driven compared to Singaporeans.

Malaysian productivity depend a lot on how much they like their boss. If the boss is good, they will be extra loyal and do a lot more. If not, they can be really bad. Singaporeans value professionalism, as in to get the job done regardless of how they feel, and expect boss to appreciate them with monetary rewards.

Finally, even though Malaysia may have ‘racist’ bumiputera policies, in actual fact I don’t see malaysians being very racist.

All the malaysians I know have friends from different races like Indian, Chinese, Malays. And I know a lot of malaysians.

Even though in Malaysia they tend to stick more to their own communities and don’t really mix around intentionally, everyone is still on talking terms and helps one another. Like I said, Malaysia ‘boleh’.

End of day, what I see is Singaporeans and malaysians are essentially the same people, separated only by our upbringing and our environment.

If a singaporean spends a few months in Malaysian environment, they will start to think and act like a Malaysian. Likewise for malaysians in Singapore.

More similarities than differences really.

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