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Colours of rang was a cultural event. It was in conjunction with the new years of the indian countries surrounding it. This event showcased the different cultures of the people from these countries. Students performed traditional dances and sang various folk songs to make thus event more joyful. We students accepted the diversity and began to respect and embrace different cultures via this event.


(by Farhat Haniff)


Malaysia has been involved in the foreign upbringing centuries ago by the Portugese and the Dutch, but less than ten decades ago, the country was ruled by the British who settled down and finalised the country's rule of right, foreign policies and introducing a new culture to Malaysia (which was called Malaya pre-independent)
The occupation of the British brought in families from overseas thus creating a foreign atmosphere in the country. The British also wanted the English language to be largely spoken by the public apart from Malay, Chinese and Tamil for easy sense of communication between the dominant groups of the country and the occupants. Thus they have built up schools and institutions to cater their children and achieve the same sense of English education for the locals.
Kuala Terengganu Grammar School, Alice Smith School, to name a few, are one of the oldest english speaking school with an english cirriculum dated pre-independent. These were set up either privately or by government to freely educate expats and locals with, what I think, a much better approach to learning than what has been established.

Malaysia is widely known in Britain as it is one of their Commenwealth countries. This means that education and institutions in Malaysia can be recognised at the homeland and abroad. This also means that Malaysians (either Malay, Chinese and Indian) will be able to travel overseas and exchange cultures with the rest of the world. This will recognise Malaysia on the map and allow the local Malaysian tradition to be shared. Because of this, Local Malaysian institutions, such as Limkokwing, can be established in other countries apart from the home country to exchange information between them, and this allows other international institutions to be built up in Malaysia creating a sense of unity due to Institutions and education.


During colonialisation of Malaysia (called Malaya pre-independant), the peninsular became a pitstop for traders because of its geographical location, the end peak of mainland Asia, with the straits surrounding the peninsular. This broght traders from India, the Arab countries and China.
As the traders exchange goods in Malaya, an exchage of culture is signified, thus Malaysian culture becomes widely known to many nations. Malaysia is a source of timber, rubber and tin, creating a wealth in natural resources. These were exported to Mainland China, UK, and India to name a few.
In Germany, their main source of timber is from Malaysia, having a relationship with the country to establish deals of trade. Rubber plantation helps car industries in Europe, such as Continental Tires UK, to import raw rubber materials to make wheels in order to drive their nation easily.

As for Malaysia, we exchange for goods such as Machineries from Germany (Siemens) to improve quality of craftsmanship domesticly and internationally thus improve to make better products at lower costs for international traders.


Theory Of Knowlege (TOK) International Baccalaureatte Text Book of World Colonialisation, Nelson Thorne IB Geography.


(by Muhammad Shukry)

Malaysia is a multicultural society, with Malays, Chinese and Indians living side by side. The Malays are the largest community. They are Muslims and speak Bahasa. Malays mainly control the political power in Malaysia. The Chinese comprise about a third of the population. They are Buddhists and Taoists, speak Hokkein, Hakka and Cantonese, and are dominant in the business community. The Indians account for about 10% of the population. They are mainly Hindu Tamils from southern India. They speak Tamil, Malayalam, and Hindi, and live mainly in the larger towns on the west coast of the peninsula. Eurasians and indigenous tribes make up the remaining population.

Iban of Sarawak is the main indigenous tribe of Malaysia. They number around 3, 95,000. They are largely longhouse dwellers and live along the Rejang and Baram rivers. The Bidayuh (107,000) are concentrated on Sarawak's Skrang River. The Orang Asli (80,000) live in small scattered groups in Peninsular Malaysia. The tribals were mainly nomadic agriculturists but gradually they are being absorbed in the modern Malaysian society.

The traditional architectural style of Malaysia is the long-house, found particularly along the rivers of Sarawak. Families live together (though they have their own private space) in one long building, raised on stilts, sharing the open verandah which runs the whole length of the building.

Also raised on stilts are the wooden houses in other parts of rural Malaysia. These stilt-houses are around two meters above the ground to protect against floods and wild animals, while providing extra ventilation and also shelter for the family's domestic animals. The style of the houses varies from region to region, the most famous being the saddle-shaped roofs, which rise up into what are known as "buffalo horns".

A third style of home common in Malaysia is the Chinese "shop-house" where the ground floor is a shop, with the family living above.

Malaysian music is heavily influenced by Chinese and Islamic forms. The music is based largely around the gendang (drum), but includes percussion instruments (some made of shells), flutes, trumpets and gongs. The country has a strong tradition of dance and dance dramas. Some of them are of Thai, Indian and Portuguese origin. Other artistic forms include wayang kulit (shadow-puppets), silat (a stylised martial art) and crafts such as batik, weaving and silver and brasswork.

More than half of the population follows Islam. Other religions followed in Malaysia are Buddhism, Daoism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Sikhism. In addition Shamanism is practiced in East Malaysia.

Muslim 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 2.6%, other or unknown 1.5%, none 0.8% (2000 census)
Bahasa Malaysia (official), English, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai

note: in East Malaysia there are several indigenous languages; most widely spoken are Iban and Kadazan

Malay 50.4%, Chinese 23.7%, indigenous 11%, Indian 7.1%, others 7.8% (2004 est.)

Early Malay houses can be described as raised on timber stilts and made of materials which were easily available from the tropical forests such as timber, bamboo, rattan, tree roots and leaves. Usually the houses have pitched roofs, verandahs or porches in front, high ceilings and lots of big openings for ventilation purposes. Although these characteristics are particularly common in all Malay houses throughout the Peninsular Malaysia, their shapes and sizes differ from state to state.

Through many decades, the Malay architecture has been influenced by Indonesian Bugis, riau and Java from the south; Siamese, British, Arab and Indian from the north; Portuguese, Dutch, Acheh, Minangkabau from the west; and Southern Chinese from the east. Due to this fact, the Malay vernacular architecture have modified their styles in order to adapt to these influences. For example, some houses in Kelantan state have a kind of roof which is similar to that of Southern Thailand. This kind of roof style is totally different from the ones in the Negeri Sembilan state which have been greatly influenced by the Minangkabau of Indonesia.
Factors that govern the styles of the Malay vernacular architecture:


Malaysia is situated in the central part of the Southeast Asia, it is bordered by longitudes 100 degrees and 120 degrees east; and by Latitudes of the Equator and 7 degrees North. The country is sunny, hot anf humid all year round with temperatures range from 25 C to 34 C. It has an annual rainfall from 80" to 100". Due to heavy monsoon rains, the roofs of the Malay vernacular houses are very steep. In some places, flooding occurs after heavy rainfalls. To solve this problem, some houses have used timber stilts to elevate the building above the ground level. The warm climate also effects the style of the Malay vernacular architecture. For ventilation purposes, many buildings have large openings on the sides and grilles are provided at high level in gable ends. Houses raised on stilts are provided with better natural ventilation.


Since Malaysia has a tropical climate, building materials such as timber, rattan, tree roots, bamboo and leaves are easily available from the tropical forests. In a traditional Malay house, timber is used for the building structures, rattan and tree roots are used for tieing up joints whereas bamboo and leaves are used for floors and walls.


In the Malay culture, buildings such as houses and palaces that are highly hand-crafted and beautifully patterned and decorated reflect the building owners high status. For instance, the old Kenangan Palace in Kuala Kangsar, Perak which was built by a Malay sultan, has mignificiently crafted walls. As Muslims, the Malays have adopted the Islamic principles of orientation of mosques, particularly the prayer halls which have to be designed and faced towards Mecca. In other cases, some of the traditional Malay houses have floors at different levels, indicating the room functions. For instance, the verandah floor is raised lower than the living room floor. This is not only indicating the room functions but also giving a sense of spatial transition in the building.


During the colonisation periods of the Portuguese, Dutch and British, Malay architecture was exposed to many new building technologies. For example, zinc and clay tiles as substitutes for roofs made of leaves; brick and cement columns as replacements for timber stilts and ladder; glass for windows which were formerly open; and nails as alternatives for rattan and tree roots that tie joints together. These features can be seen at the Alor Setar's Balai Besar or Audience Hall in Kedah state. Built in 1898, the building has clay tile roofs, brick and cement stairs, glass windows with brick and timber walls. Each of these had a profound impact on the Malay vernacular architecture. It can also, then, be observed that the process of adopting new technologies to ancient architecture is not entirely a new idea. Malay architecture has been modified by technological and cultural changes for centuries.

Today, the styles of the Malay vernacular achitecture have inspired many young architects and engineers in designing Malaysia's contemporary architecture. In the past years, many modern buildings have focused their design concepts on the Malay vernacular architecture, particularly the Malay houses and palaces. Various roof shapes have derived from the Malay houses such as from the states of Negeri Sembilan, Kelantan and Terengganu.

The best known traditional architectural style of Malaysia is the long-house, found particularly along the rivers of Sarawak. Families live together (though they have their own private space) in one long building, raised on stilts, sharing the open verandah which runs the whole length of the building.

Also raised on stilts are the wooden houses of the other parts of rural Malaysia. These stilt-houses are around two metres off the ground to protect against floods and wild animals, while providing extra ventilation and also shelter for the family's domestic animals. The style of the houses varies from region to region, the most famous being the saddle-shaped roofs which rise up into what are known as "buffalo horns".

A third style of home common in Malaysia is the Chinese "shop-house" where the ground floor is a shop, with the family living above.

European colonial style buildings can be found in every major town, especially on the west coast. Most are British in origin but some Dutch and Portuguese architecture remains. Malaysia's religious diversity shows in its architecture. Mosques and minarets show the Islamic heritage in one particularly famous mosque, now more than two hundred years old and built in hardwood, without the use of nails, by craftsmen from Java. There are also many Buddhist and Hindu temples, some of them built in Malaysia's limestone caves.

The increasing wealth of the country is seen in the many modern buildings, in dramatic styles, going up in the major cities. Perhaps the most outstanding are the twin Petronas towers, among the tallest buildings in the world.

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(by You Leong and Priya )

Malaysia's population comprises many ethnic groups, according to U.S Department of States - Background note : Malaysia (Jan 2010), the total population in 2009 is 28.3 million with the annual growth rate of 2.0%. While the percentage of ethnic groups and religions are divided as below :

Ethnic groups:
Malay 53.3%
Chinese 26%
Indian 7.7%
Aborigine 11.8%
Others 1.2%

Religions :
Islam 60.4%
Buddhism 19.2%
Christianity 9.1%
Hinduism 6.3%
Other/none s 5.0%

As we can see as above, Malays comprise a majority of just over 50%. By constitutional definition, all Malays are Muslim. About a quarter of the population is ethnic Chinese, a group which historically played an important role in trade and business. Malaysians of Indian descent comprise about 7% of the population and include Hindu
, Muslims, Buddhists, and Christians. Non-Malay indigenous groups combine to make up approximately 11% of the population.

In peninsular Malaysia, the population density recorded the highest with some 20 million of citizen of the country's 28 million citizen. The rest live on the Malaysian portion of the island of Borneo in the large but less densely-populated states of Sabah and Sarawak. More than half of Sarawak's residents and about two-thirds of Sabah's are from indigenous groups.


Heritage ( Architectural aspects ) -
1. Rumah Gadang
Rumah Gadang also known as minangkabau literally gives a definition of a big house, is the traditional house occupied by the Minangkabau. It serves as a residence, a hall for family meetings, and for ceremonial activities. While normally society is being patrilineal, the society of Minangkabau differs as they are being matrilineal which means the Rumah Gadang is own by the women and was passed down to the next generation from mother to the daughter.

The houses have dramatic curved roof structure with multi-tiered, upswept gables. Shuttered windows are built into walls incised with profuse painted floral carvings. The term rumah gadang usually refers to the larger communal homes, however, smaller single residences share many of its architectural elements.

2. Malay House
Malay house is the heritage dwellings of the indigenous ethnic Malay before the arrival of modern influences. Most houses are located together in a Malay community and was named as a kampung. They are built with stilts below and they have large windows. This is mainly to keep the building cool and the stilts elevate the building to keep them away from floods. Kampong houses are detached houses and they usually have no fences around them The traditional Malaysian house serves the housing needs of the majority of people living in rural areas of Malaysia. Traditional architectural forms, such as tropically-suited roofs and harmonious proportions with decorative elements are considered by traditionalists to still have relevance. However due to the raw material used which was easily available from the rainforest such as bamboo, rattan and more. Traditional buildings require significant maintenance compared to modern construction. While the traditional skills used to build a Malay house are gradually being lost as Malaysia continues its process of industrialiasation.


Heritage ( Architectural aspects ) -
1. Chinese Temple
Chinese temple are usually painted in red and gold because to the chinese these colours brings prosperity and good luck.The monastery, like other Chinese structures, normally faces south. Entering the front hall, one is confronted by four huge images, usually made from wood, two on each side. These are the Four Heavenly Kings or Devas, the Guardians of the Four Directions and the hall is named after them as the 'Si-Tien Wang Tien'. Typical chinese temple is traditionally chinese in stlye, decorated with extensively sculptures and sometimes traditional chinese paintings. While larger temples may be built as compound to accomodate more peoples and as a house to he mighty God. Usually in a temple, there will be a chimney-like structure made of bricks used for burning joss paper to Gods, ancestors or spirits. A plaque with the name of the temple ( read from right to left ) are hang at the entrance of the temple. Usually in the compound there will be 3 main shrines : Shui Wei Sheng Niang ( Waterfront Godness), Mazu ( Sea Godness) and Guan Yin ( the Benevolent Godness). Chinese temples also uses various pillars, beams and arches interlaced with each other to composelan architecture complex. It gives people the feeling of harmonious environment and comfortable life when they stroll in the changeable and complicated buildings.


Heritage (Architectural aspects)
1. Hindu Temples
Most of the ethnic Indians are Tamils from the Southern India. The Indian architecture in Malaysia is influenced by the Dravidian which emerged thousands of years ago in the Indian subcontinent. Hindu temples in Malaysia are examples of Indian architecture in Malaysia. Temples are most notable for their high spiers (Gopura) consisting of a number of stepped levels with sculptures and floral decorations over its main entrance and facade. Great care is taken in sculpting the exqusite details of the sculpture. Sri Mariamman temple in Penang which was built in 1883 is the oldest Hindu temple in Malaysia.There are some other famous temples in Malaysia such as Sri Kandaswamy Kovil , Brickfields ( one of the most prominent Sri Lankan Tamil temples in Malaysia ) , Natukkotai Chettiar Temple , Penang and Sri Sunderaja Perumal Temple.

2. Sikh Architecture
Besides the Tamils, there a minority group of Sikhs in Malaysia. The Sikhs have their own unique architecture. Sikh architecture is characterized with progressiveness, exquisite intricacy, austere beauty and logical flowing lines. Example of Sikh architecture in Malaysia is the Gurdwaras - the worshiping place of the Sikhs. The layout of the gurdwara consist of :-
- Shoe Room ( shoes are placed in this room as footwear are not allowed in gurdwaras)
- Darbar Sahib ( where the spiritual assembly is held)
- Langar Hall ( free community kitchen)

Indigenous People

Heritage ( Architectural aspects)
1. The Longhouse / Rumah Panjang
The Longhouse is the traditional architecture in the states Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia. A longhouse is a type of long , narrow, single roomed building. It is mainly built from timber in older days but now the the buildings are replaced with modern material but the design remains unchanged. The long house is divided into public area along one side and private living along the other side. Basically, the long house is built raised off the ground on stilts.

Advantage of it being built in such a way is :-

- reduces the inconvenience caused by the flood
- cooling air could circulate underneath the floor of the building
- elevated living area are more likely to catch the above ground breezes
- Livestock could be placed underneath the dwelling for graeter protection.


Tradition (Events)-
1. Hari Raya Aidilfitri
Hari Raya Aidilfitri is one of the two important events for the Muslims besides Hari Raya Aidiladha. Hari Raya Aidilfitri is celebrated after Ramadan which is a one month fasting period for the Muslims. The primary purpose of fasting is for good deed to remind all the Muslims of self-control and submitting to Allah, the holy one. Besides that it teaches Muslims to appreciate what they have rather than asking for more. On the morning of the festival, the Muslims would wear their new clothes and go to the mosque to pray. They offer their thanks to God and after that they would ask for forgiveness from their elders. This is an important custom followed by the Muslims. After that they will visits relative and friends to celebrate this happy oc casion. While some will attend open houses to bond up greater relationship. For the children they might receive green packets which enclosed with money as a money tokens.

2. Hari Raya Aidiladha
Hari Raya Aidiladha also known as Hari Raya Korban is an important event for the Muslims which is celebrated about two months after Hari Raya Aidilfitri. It marks the end of the haj pilgrimage period (about two weeks). ‘Korban’ which means sacrifice commemorates the sacrifices made by Prophet Ibrahim. On the day, the sacrifice of four-legged animals such as lambs, goats, and cows take place. The animals are killed in accordance with the proper religious rites and the meat is distributed. One third of the meat is given to individual who made the sacrifice while others are distributed to the poor and other people. This event portrait and teaches the younger generation that sharing is very important too.


Tradition (Events)-
1. Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year starts with the New Moon on the first day of the year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. Normally, a reunion dinner will be held on the eve of the Chinese New Year to bring family members closer. Reunion dinner can be held either at the restaurant or simply at home. Relatives will come together to cook and later have dinner together. On the first day of Chinese New Year, Chinese will burn firecrackers as a symbol to get rid of spirits and to boost the atmosphere. Red lantern and decorative items can be seen everywhere. Later, families will go to temples for prayers. After that, Chinese will visits relative and friends to enjoy the whole day. Red packets are given to those who are not marry while word of wishes such as ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai’ are greeted among each other.

2. Mid-Autumn Festival
In another words also known as Moon cake festival is held on the 15th day of the eight months of the Chinese calendar. Farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Traditionally on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomelos under the moon together. This brings relationship among family members eveThat shows the n closer. While children will enjoy playing with candles and lanterns to light up the dark.

Indigenous People
Tradition ( Events)
1. Hari Gawai
Hari Gawai is celebrated on 1st June by the Dayaks or Ibans of Sarawak. Its iscelebrated for four heads. this festival is celebrated to mark the end of paddy harvesting season and the beginning of the new new planting season.There will be a lot of singing, dancing, and drinking of tuak or rice wine.

2. Harvest Festival
The indegenous tribes of the Kadazan, Dusun, and Murut of Sabah calebrates this Harvest Festival also known as Tadau Kaamatan. This festival is celebrated as a thanksgiving to the spirit of paddy, called Bambaazon or Bambarayon, by Kadazan Dusun. During the celebration there will be agricultural shows , exhibitions, cultural programmes, buffalo races and other traditional games. There will also b a Harvest Festival Queen ( Unduk Nangau) peagent to seek the fairest maiden, honouring the sacrifice made by a maiden legendary times.


Tradition(Events) -
1. Deepavali

Deepavali is also known as the The Festival of Lights , celebrated by Hindus in Malaysia. In Hinduism, light signifises goodness. So lights are burned out throughout the day of Deepavali and into the night , to ward of darkness and evil.Deepavali is actually celebrated for various alleged origins throughout the world. In Malaysia, Deepavali is celebrated as the day the evil Narakasura was slain by Lord Krishna. That shows the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil.It is a ritual for everybody at home to need to have an oil bath early in the morning. This ritual is done to cleanse the impurities of the past years.

2. Thai Ponggal

Thai Ponggal is a celebration celebrated by the Indian community in Malaysia and is celebrated to mark the harvesting of the bounteous crops in the field. It usually falls in the middle of the month, January.It is celebrated for four days when the month of Thai starts.' Ponggal ' gives the meaning ' boiling water '. How is it celebrated ? Well milk is allowed to boil over and spill out of the pot which is believed that it gives prosperity and luck to the family. then, sweet rice is cooked and puja is performed. After, the puja , the ponggal can be enjoyed by family members together.


Tradition (Foods) -
1. Nasi lemak
Nasi lemak is a national heritage of Malaysia and usually it is serve as breakfast. But because of its versatility, it is now served and eaten at any time. The rice is soaked with coconut cream and the mixture is later steamed. Nasi lemak is served along with cucumbers, anchovies, roasted peanuts, sambals and chicken curry. It is widely eaten in Malaysia, even as a dish served in Malaysian schools. Nasi lemak is a common breakfast dish, sold early in the morning at roadside stalls in Malaysia, where it is often sold packed in newspaper, brown paper or banana leaf.

2. Satay
Satay or sate is a Malay dish consisting of diced or sliced chicken, goat, mutton, beef, pork, fish, tofu, or other meats. These are grilled or barbecued over a wood or charcoal fire, then served with various spicy seasonings along with cucumbers and onions. Although it’s a Malay dish, but now it had become an identity of Malaysia as it could be found everywhere by other races.


Tradition ( Foods) –
1. Yong Tau Foo
Yong Tau Foo is a Chinese soup dish with Hakka origins. Yong tau foo is essentially a clear consomme soup containing a varied selection of food items including fish balls, crab sticks, bitter gourds, cuttlefish, lettuce, ladies fingers, as well as chillies, and various forms of fresh produce, seafood and meats common in Chinese cuisine. Some of these items, such as bitter gourd and chilli, are usually filled with fish paste. In Malaysia, the Malay Muslims have taken to yong tau foo in a big way. As pork consumption is prohibited for Muslims, halal yong tau foo is generally soy based or stuffed vegetable fritters or steamed bean curd with fish paste stuffing.

2. Char Kuey Teow
Char Kuey Teow, literally "stir-fried rice cake strips", is a popular noodle dish which typically prepared at a hawker stall. It is made of flat rice noodles fried together with prawns, deshelled cockles, bean sprouts and with some chillies. When the dish was first served, it was often sold by fishermen, farmers and cockle-gatherers who doubled up as char kway teow pedlars in the evening to supplement their income.

Tadition (food)
1. Roti Canai
Roti canai is one of the famous Malasian Indian breakfast. Roti canai looks like a pancake and its made of wheat flour, oil, ghee or butter.The softness of the roti canai is achieved by swinnging it into the the air until it takes a flat round shape. The more it is swung, there softer it gets. It is then fried and served with dhal, chicken or fish curry.
2.Tandoori chicken
Tandoori chicken i originated from the northern india.Spring chickens or quarter chickens are marinated in a red batter which is made of yoghurt and spices. The chicken pieces are then skewered on a metal stick and placed in steaming hot cicular oven from the top. It is then lifted out after sometime and served with mint sauce and plain naan bread.
Indegenuos people
Tradition (food)
1. Pansuh
The traditional food for Iban people who are mainly from Sarawak is called Pansuh. Basically Pansuh means cooking of food in a bamboo stem . the food cooked in the bamboo stem can be meat, chicken,, fish, vegetables and even rice cooked together with spices. these ingredients are put into the bamboo stem stem to cook.The speciality of this way of cooking is, bamboo gives a special taste and smell to the food.

Resources :

U.S Department of States - Background note : Malaysia (Jan 2010)


( by Afiq Johari )

On 7 July 2008, Melaka and George Town were selected as Malaysia's newest UNESCO World Heritage Site. ‘Melaka and George Town, Cities of the Straits of Malacca’ was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site during the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee which met in Quebec City, Canada, on 2-10 July, 2008. This is the first time that cultural sites in Malaysia have been inscribed into UNESCO’s prestigious World Heritage Listing that covers a 109.38 hectare site on the north-east of Penang Island.

The recognition by UNESCO to acknowledge George Town as a heritage city means that the initial zone should be preserved from further development that would change the skyline of Penang Heritage City. But what is the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site? In this feature article, I am providing background information on George Town heritage and traditions.


George Town is located in Penang Island, Malaysia. The place is so rich with history, heritage and traditions. Since Francis Light drew out the plan of the city, it had born witness to the rise and fall of governments and ruling parties. The city was coveted by many as a strategic and natural port. It was also the guardian to the northern entrance of the Straits of Malacca. Before goods could be transported by airplanes, the one who ruled Penang ruled the lucrative East-West trade.

Heritage & Traditions


George Town represents exceptional examples of multi-cultural trading towns in East and Southeast Asia. They were established by trading activities that result in the blending of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures with three successive European colonial powers, over a period of 500 years. This creates a lasting imprint on their architecture and urban form.

George Town is a living testimony to the multi-cultural heritage and tradition of Asia, and of the European colonial influences. The tangible as well as intangible heritage of the two cities are expressed in its religious buildings of different faiths, ethnic enclaves, spoken dialects, festivities, dances, attire, art form, cuisine and lifestyle.

One of the factors that make Penang unique is its people. They are a nation of mixed blood so co-mingled, with ancestors from all over Asia and also the West. It could say that they all are fine examples of living heritage. The Baba and Nyonya descendants, the Indian Muslims (colloquially known as "Anak Mami Tanjung, Mamak or Mami"), offspring of the South Indian Hindu Tamils, the Eurasians and the Malays from Aceh and others in the Malay archipelago make Penang their homes. It is a true melting pot where inter-racial marriage is common.

Baba and Nyonya culture in Penang is pretty different from the ones in Malacca (Melaka), Medan, Singapore or Kota Bharu. If there is a group of Nyonyas and Babas in Melaka who speak exclusively Malay, their counterpart in Penang speaks a mixture of Hokkien, Malay and English. The food also has a slight variation too. Not surprising in this sense, since the two places are geographically different. But both Baba and Nyonya and Anak Mami Tanjung have a combination with Malay. That’s makes Penang is so unique.


The Babas and Nyonyas: Are of ethnic Chinese but they were born in Penang. They adopt a lot of local clothing, food, language and culture too in their daily lives. Especially from the Malay and European culture like for example, the Nyonya food uses a lot of chillies to make sambal in their food. There is a dish called Sambal Hei Bee (Sambal Udang kering). The amount of time and effort that went into making these cakes is amazing. This is from the influence of Malay dining habit which does not consider a meal is complete without chillies or anything spicy.

Anak Mami Tanjung: Nasi Kandar is famously popular in Penang, and many restaurants selling it are well known not only to those on the island but those in other states as well. It is
basically a combination of Malay and Indian cuisine and the taste is more robust.
This concept came about when "Nasi" (Rice) hawkers would previously "Kandar"
(balance a pole on the shoulder with two huge containers on both ends) their wares. It is quite common to find people from other states detouring to Penang just to stop
for a meal of Nasi Kandar before proceeding on their journey elsewhere. Others popular Indian foods include Murtabak, Nasi Briyani, Pasembur and Tandoori chicken.


The Babas and Nyonyas: In terms of their clothing, the men adopt the western style of clothing mainly for daily wear. They wear Chinese style tunic for special occasions. The ladies, on the other hand, have a lot of choice in fashion. One set of attire that is associated with the Nyonyas is the Kebaya (mixture of Malay and Chinese). The intricate embroidery that is embedded in the design makes each of the Kebaya unique. The patterns are normally inspired by nature, intertwined vines or tropical birds and butterflies. They are truly beautiful and it is a dying art too since there are not many skilled artisans left to sew the Kebaya the old way.

The Penang State Art Gallery

The Penang State Art Gallery is located with the Penang State Museum which is situated in Lebuh Farquhar. It is considered one of the best art galleries in the country, with a permanent collection of 235 priceless paintings by local artists and a contemporary collection that showcases modern works of art. Themed exhibits are held from time to time in the Sri Pinang Hall, where the paintings are located.

The Hainanese Mariner's Lodge

The Hainanese Mariner's Lodge is a colonial shop house that was once a lodging place and club house of Hainanese migrants in Penang. Hainan sailors often came to stay here during their many travels to and from China. The Hainanese was one of the main Chinese ethnic groups that came to Penang in search of fortune. They were renowned for their culinary skills and ability to sail the winds of the sea effortlessly. Today, this blue building now houses the Penang Heritage Trust Office, and stands as a monument to visitors of the Hainanese community in Penang. The Penang Heritage Trust is itself a body that serves to preserve and promote the delicate cultures of Penang


Cantered in Campbell Street, but covering some surrounding areas of Georgetown, Chinatown is a living heritage of the first Chinese settlers in Penang. Popular as a shopping district, various generations of Chinese descended from the first that arrived here continue to ply their ancient trades, such as joss stick making and signboard engraving in old colonial shop houses. A trip here will provide a rich journey of oriental culture for visitors.

Little India

Neighbouring Chinatown but in a much smaller area encompassing Lebuh Chulia, Lebuh Queen and Jalan Pasar, Little India is another popular shopping district for all things Indian. Traditional Indian businesses that deal with silk, sari, cotton and tin carriers still go on strong here, providing a colourful experience for tourists and visitors. The large number of money changers here provides a convenient place for exchanging currency while taking in the sights and sounds of Little Indian. This district is quite lively, with the noise of Indian and Hindi music often blasting in the air. If you like trying out food, then Little Indian has much to offer in terms of spicy cuisine and curries.

Pinang Peranakan Mansion

The Pinang Peranakan Mansion is homage to the Straits Chinese community of Penang. This special group of people were created in the early centuries by a gradual blending of Chinese and Malay cultures, mostly by the intermarriage of Chinese settlers and local Malays. The Peranakan people, as they are called, are also known as the Baba Nyonya or Straits Chinese. This Mansion which doubles up as a museum, displays over 1,000 artefacts and relics related to the history, customs and traditions of Baba Nyonya heritage. The mansion itself is an authentic design that incorporates British and Chinese architecture, a sight not to be missed by visitors.

Millionaire Row

Located in Northam Road (Now known as Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah), the millionaire's row is a series of colonial heritage mansions built along a 1 mile stretch of road. It was a dwelling zone for the rich European upper class of society in the early century, but over time, their numbers were joined and supplanted by rich Chinese traders and businessmen, who built their own luxurious homes. Today, only a few of the original mansions remain, occupied by the descendants of their builders, but a few are dilapidated and abandoned. Visitors can drive by and admire the architecture of these colonial buildings and appreciate the history behind them.

P. Ramlee's House

P. Ramlee was the most famous Malay actor of his generation in Malaysia, and would be to Malaysians what Elvis Presley is to American culture. This artiste produced a wide range of movies and songs through the 50s that are still popular in modern entertainment today. Although he passed away in 1973, his house in Jalan P. Ramlee, named after him, still stands to educate visitors and tourists about his legacy. The house, which is a cultural museum, exhibits personal items and memorabilia belonging to the actor, along with items that portray his history and lifestyle such as photographs and movie recordings. Located within the house is a 300-seater performing arts theatre and complex. Open almost daily, admission is free.

The Kek Lok Si Temple

Founded more than 100 years ago by benevolence Beow Lean, a devout Buddhist
from Fujian province, the temple was once given the name of "Huock San" (Crane hill)
due to the hills resemblance of crane spreading its wings. The main attraction of the Kek Lok Si Temple is of course the impressive and striking Pagoda of Rama VI which was completed in the year 1930. It is known to be laid by the Thai Monarch himself. Widely known as Wan Fo Pau Ta or "The Pagoda of 10 000 Buddha’s", The Pagoda displays a collection of Alabaster and Bronze Buddha and it also contains a Chinese octagonal base with middle tiers of the Thai architecture and is tapped with a Burmese Temple crown. And towering over one hundred feet and seven storeys high, The Pagoda is currently the largest of its kind in Malaysia

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(by Khairul Azim)

As a trading port, Malacca became a meeting point for every seafaring nation. Persians, Arabs, Tamils, Malabarese and Bengalis from the west; Javanese, Sudanese and Sulus from the archipelago; Chinese, Thais, Burmese as well as Khmers ventured here in search of profit through trade, piracy and plunder. Each in turn left something of their own culture to be forged and blended into a new and unique mix.

Malacca today is a land of many sights and attractions, rich in colour and contrasts. The multi-racial population live and work in harmony, yet preserving the traditions and cultures unique to each race. Malacca's fascinating cultures are strongly evident everywhere one goes. From the typical roadside stall to the royal palace, the rich heritage of Melaka's cultural traits continue to influence the lives of the people here.
Cultural diversity abound in the games played, in the savoury food prepared, in the many art forms and pastimes, in the colourful festivals that are reverently looked forward to and indeed in the many facets of their lifestyles. So rich and fascinating are the cultures that volumes have been written about them. Visitors to Malacca too, are often awe-inspired by the sheer fascination of the multi-faceted cultures.

While Malacca has a multi-racial population of Malays, Chinese and Indians reflecting the overall racial make-up of Malaysia, it is the Peranakan and Portuguese culture that is still practised by a few descendant communities that attracts visitors.

The Peranakan and Portuguese descendants in Malacca today are the result of the state's long history with trading and colonisation by Oriental and Western powers.

The Baba Nyonyas

Peranakans are descended from Chinese migrants who first came to Malacca many centuries ago. Adopting Malay customs and cultures, theirs is a unique heritage unlike any other. Peranakans are also referred to a 'Straits Chinese'.

It is still a subject of debate whether the Peranakans actually intermarried with the local Malay population or maintained a pure bloodline, but most are said to be of Hokkien ancestry. 'Babas' refer to male Peranakans while 'Nyonya' refer to females. Often Nyonya is used to substitute the term 'Peranakan' as well. Peranakans also settled in Penang, the only other state than Malacca.

In terms of dressing, the women wear traditional Malay costumes, notably the 'Baju Kebaya' a form of blouse woven with silk. Foot-binding, a practice carried over from China, used to be common among the affluent folk but over the centuries, it is no longer practised and for good reason. Perhaps the Peranakan's most famous legacy is Nyonya food, a fusion of Malay ingredients with Chinese cooking styles. Some of the most popular dishes include 'Belacan', 'Assam Laksa', 'Cendol' and 'Kuih Talam¡'.

Peranakans speak a dialect of the Malay language called 'Baba Malay' which has some elements of the Hokkien language. Their most notable musical entertainment form is the 'Dondang Sayang'; or 'Love Song' where Babas and Nyonyas exchanged poems in a humorous style, accompanied by a violin, accordion and traditional instruments; the Rebana and Gong. Many Malaccans, regarded less of their ethnicity, often indulge in Dondang Sayang; such is its popularity.

The Portuguese

When the Portuguese conquered Malacca in 1511 and ruled for 130 years, a few stayed behind and formed a fishing community that has lasted till today. As devout Catholics, they celebrate various festivals dedicated to their religion which can be witnessed throughout the year in their settlement the Portuguese Square.

Over the years, the Portuguese intermarried with the local population and are now collectively referred to as Portuguese-Eurasian or 'Kristang', but they still maintain their traditional surnames such as 'Sequiera' and 'Lopez'. Usually, they speak a distinct language which is a Creole (fusion of two languages) based on Portuguese and Malay.

The Portuguese community in Malacca are a merry bunch, often celebrating with loud dances, music and song. Their most famous tune is the 'Jinggling Nyonya', a happy dance-song routine. They've also brought their food; 'Curry Debel¡' is among the most famous of their dishes.

In June, the Portuguese Suare becomes abuzz with activity as the villagers celebrate a feast in honour of their patron saint. It is truly a sight for visitors to behold and a great chance to get to know this special 3,000-odd group of people in Malaysia.



Built in 1650 as the official residence of the Dutch Governor and his officers, The Stadthuys is a fine example of Dutch architecture of that period.
Preserved in its original structure and form, the edifice now houses the History Museum and Ethnography Museum.
On display daily are traditional bridal costumes and relics from Malacca's glorious past.


Originally named Our Lady of the Hill, this fine church was built by a Portuguese captain named Duarte Coelho. Years later, the Dutch turned the chapel into a burial ground for their noble dead and renamed it St. Paul's Church.
St. Francis Xavier's remains were briefly enshrined in the open grave in 1553 before being brought back to Goa, India.


The hallmark of Malacca and perhaps the most photographed colonial building here next to the Stadhuys.
Built by the Portuguese in 1511 as a fortress, it sustained severe structural damage during the Dutch invasion.
The Dutch had set to destroy it, but timely intervention by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1808 saved what remains of A'Famosa today.


Here, there are exhibits on Malacca's economic and social progress spanning from after the independence of Malaya in 1957 till the end of the 20th century. The exhibits are segmented into tourism, agriculture, industry and other sectors.


Built in 1912, the former club house of Malacca Club now houses invaluable exhibits of the country's struggle leading to Independence. Exhibits are in the form of relics, manuscripts, video tapes, films and slides.


Hang Jebat--the champion of justice who died a tragic death. Hang Jebat was killed by Hang Tuah when he suffered a fatal wound from Hang Tuah's keris (dagger), named 'Taming Sari'. Hang Jebat was accused by Hang Tuah of 'derhaka' (to be traitorous).
The duel between two of Malacca's most prominent knights has left a permanent question as to the morale behind Hang Jebat's aberrant reaction against the authority and, the conventions by which Hang Tuah exercised his conduct as a loyal subject of the sultan.


One of the first Hindu temples built in the country in 1781. It was built on a plot given by the Dutch.


One of the oldest mosques in the country with Sumatran architectural features. Instead of a conventional dome, it has a three-tiered roof rising like a pyramid. A minaret peculiar in shape from a typical Moorish style, is structured like a Pagoda, portraying a mixture of East-West architectural influence.


'Straits Chinese' or the Baba and Nyonya, are Chinese who have adopted much of the Malay culture. The public can now view this unique heritage at the private museum run by the Babas and Nyonyas of Malacca.


A definite haven for antique collectors and bargain hunters. Authentic artefacts and relics, some dating as far back as 300 years, can be found among a host of interesting collectibles, each with its own history and mystery.
Jalan Hang Jebat, formerly known as Jonker Street, is known worldwide among famous antique collectors as one of the best places to hunt and bargain for antiques.


The oldest Chinese temple in the country. It was built in 1646 with materials shipped in from China.
Fine workmanship is evident in the ornately decorated mythological figures, carvings and lacquerwork inside the temple.


Hang Kasturi studied 'silat' (Malay martial art) under the same tutor as Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat, Hang Lekir and Hang Lekiu. He became one of the 'hulubalangs' (knights) who served Malacca together with Hang Tuah. Except for Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi and the others remained loyal to the sultan until their dying days.


Built in 1728 by Dato Shamsudin, it is the oldest mosque in Malaysia. Its unique architectural style is not traceable to any other in the country.


The house, built in the first quarter of the 20th century in the style fashionable during that era, has been converted by its owner into a private museum. Located in Kampung Morten, which is the only Malay village in the heart of Malacca city, the house has a history that goes back to the British Land Reform act of 1920.
Visitors can view an intriguing collection of costumes, Malay embroidery, furniture, muskets and an array of interesting relics. The owner is happy to fulfil the role of curator and is keen to offer visitors additional information.


Built in 1710 during the Dutch occupation in Malacca. It is the oldest Roman Catholic church in Malaysia and sits on a piece of land donated by a Dutch gentleman, Maryber Franz Amboer.
Its fac,ade and de'cor have a combination of Eastern and Western architecture. One of its bells was cast in Goa in 1608.


The temple is located at the foot of Bukit China. This handsome place of worship wasbuilt in 1795 by Kapitan Tsai Shih Chang. Within the temple is the famous well, San Pao Ching or Perigi Raja, subject of many legends and stories.


Built in 1459 by the followers of Hang Li Poh, the Chinese princess who married the Sultan of Malacca.
The well never dried up during the days of old and was the only source of water during great droughts. The Dutch enclosed it with stout walls in 1677 to maintain ultimate right to the well.
It has been turned into a wishing well and it is said that those who throw coins into it will return to Malacca time and again.


Translated as 'Chinese Hill', this breezy real estate was the official settlement of the Chinese entourage that arrived with Princess Hang Li Poh. She was sent to Malacca by the Emperor to marry the Sultan to mark the advent of diplomatic relations between Malacca and China. The entourage stayed on this settlement until the Portuguese occupation in 1511. Today Bukit China is the largest Chinese cemetery outside China with many of the tombs dating back to the Ming Dynasty.


Rebuilt by the Dutch during the third quarter of the 18th century, St. John's Fort was once a private Portuguese chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist.
The fort has an interesting feature - cannons face inland as, during that time, attacks on Malacca came mainly from the hinterland instead of from the sea.


Perhaps the right phrase to infer strong affinity to Portugal would be 'Mini Lisbon'. Located within the Portuguese Settlement, the square is the centre of Portuguese culture in Malacca and Malaysia.


Prominent in its architectural grandeur, the mosque is unique and bears testimony to the fact that Islam had a rightful place in Malacca almost 600 years ago. The tomb of Sultan Hussain of Johor is in the compound of the mosque. He was the ruler who signed the cession of Singapore with Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819.


The Portuguese galleon, the Flor De La Mar, sank in the Straits of Malacca on its way to Portugal. Her hull was laden with invaluable treasures seized from Malacca. The galleon would have been erased frommemory had it not been for the efforts to revive its symbolic significance to Malacca's heritage.
At the museum, visitors can get a closer look at Malacca from the famed Malay Sultanate of the 14th century to the Portuguese era, the Dutch era and the British era. There are exhibits of foreign ship models that had once called at the port of Malacca during the height of its maritime hegemony.


The daughter of Sri Amar Di Raja Pahang was convinced by Hang Tuah to marry Sultan Mahmud Shah. She died as a queen in Merlimau, about 24 km away from Malacca Town, while retreating with members of the Malacca royal family from the Portuguese attack in 1511.


The Jasin Musuem was established to uncover the facts and myths behind the establishment of Jasin, one of the significant settlements of Malacca's territorial expansion.
It depicts the lifestyle, the history, background and the political, cultural and economic development of Jasin. Using a British Commissioned building, the Jasin Museum houses an impressive collection of artefacts which includes paintings, pictures, costumes, agricultural implements and weapons from Melaka's rich and colourful past.
Included in its showcase is an exhibit of Sultan Mahmud Shah's infatuation for Puteri Gunung Ledang (Princess of Gunung Ledang).


The Alor Gajah Museum houses exhibits to help visitors visualise the amazing stories behind the district of Alor Gajah.
The district was the site of the Naning War where from 1831 to 1832, a Naning warrior by the name of Dato' Dol Said fought against the British.
There are also exhibits on Malay, Chinese and Indian people who settled and built Malacca.

The Cultures in Malacca

The Chinese

The Chinese community forms the second largest ethnic group in Malacca. Most of them are involved in business and trading activities. The Straits Born Chinese, also knowns as Baba-Nyonya are descendants of the Chinese who arrived in Malacca and married to locals (Malay). They retain manay Chinese customs but they normally speak in Malay language. They have also adopted the Malay-style of dressing.

The Malay

The Malays formed the largest group of Malacca’s population. Islam is their religion, including their customs. The social system of the Malays in Malacca is based on “adat temenggong“, which embraces a patriarchal tradition, which subsequently spread to other states in Malaysia.

The Indians

The Indians are another major group in Malacca’s colourfulracial mix. Malacca Chittys, they are descendants of wealthy traders from South India’s Coromandel Coast who visited Malacca during the 15th century and married local women. This resulted in a unique culture where they speak and dress like the Malays but retain their religious practices.

The Portuguese-Eurasians

This community has a number of about 10,000 in Malaysia. Aproximate 2,600 live in Malacca in the Portuguese Settlement, which dates to 1930. They speak Kristang, an archaic Portuguese dialect and they are mainly Roman Catholics. The Settlement is a hive of acitivity during the Festa San Juang and Festa San Pedro celebrations.

Festa Sang Juang or Feast of St. John begins with a candlelight procession at St. John’s Hill. They then proceed downhill to the Portuguese Settlement where a bonfire would be lit, food served and cultural performances held.

Festa San Pedro or the Feast of St. Peter is a major annual celebration of the Portuguese fishing community. The event honours St. peter, the patron saint of fishermen. The community celebrates the occasion with traditional games, food fairs, blessing of fishing boats and the best decorated boat contest.