Is it true that few Malays visit non-Malay open houses for non-Muslim festivals?

To this day, I still continue what I did as a child, which is to visit friends’ open houses for non-Muslim festivals. Christmas lunches. New Year parties. Deepavali. Reunion dinners on Chinese New Year’s eve and tossing the yee sang two weeks later.

Some time ago, close Chinese friends quietly expressed sadness, that very few Malays, if any, were willing to share the CNY celebrations, and my Indian friends, their Deepavali open houses.

Despite their claims that they would ensure the food was halal, and provide new paper plates and plastic cups, Malays stayed away.


Why are fewer Malays visiting non-Malay open houses for the various festivals?

It appears that the issue is not just with food. Some object to visiting places where there is a shrine. A few refuse to eat off crockery and cutlery that has ‘touched’ pork. Others worry about the content of the soap with which to wash their hands.

Many Malays are oblivious to how their non-Malay colleagues go out of their way to accommodate Malay sensitivities. Sometimes, even the best efforts are in vain.

One friend said, “What is the point of ordering food from a Malay restaurant, and serve it for CNY? The idea is to partake in our celebratory dishes and cakes. We would have ensured that the ingredients were halal. Apparently, that is not good enough.”

When it comes to pot-luck or giving food as presents, non-Malays express frustration that their contributions are refused, even if the non-Malay took great pains to ensure the use of halal ingredients. Rejection of their unappreciated and wasted efforts, is hard to accept.

Malay intolerance

Official functions are also dominated by Malay intolerance. A friend said that the Malay organisers of a parent-teacher association dinner at a school in Malacca arranged for a restaurant which had the ‘Halal’ accreditation, to cater the function. It would have been a halal Chinese dinner. Unfortunately, the arrangement was cancelled as a few of the Malay parents and teachers objected, because the restaurant owner and his staff were Chinese.

Would these parents kick up a fuss if they were overseas? Are they as demanding when they go on holiday in overseas locations?

Malay intolerance is disrupting national harmony.  Malaysia was once a place which practised a moderate, inclusive brand of Islam, but the radicals and hardliners have corrupted the minds of many Malays.

So, what happened to the tolerance of the Malays, and how did they forget they are living in multi-cultural Malaysia?

The Perak mufti, Harussani Zakaria, once forbade Malays from visiting their friends’ homes, during the festivals.

One hopes that the intolerant Malays can regain their ability to rationalise and recover their Malaysian multicultural identity.


Rebuilding Malaysia


  • Syawal says:

    same here at my workplace.. all malays were agitated when they saw a chinese worker eating her homemade meal in the pantry.. they worry that the food may contain pork so they told the lady to go eat somewhere else and not wash her plates and cutleries in the pantry. even when she explained it wasn’t pork the malays still insisted she go somewhere else to eat.

    Malays are sensitive when it come to halal issue but insensitive when it comes to the issue of non muslim who doesn’t eat beef/meat for religious reason. they eventold the non muslim if they can’t eat the food company prepaqre.. go buy food from somewhere else. What a sad place i work in

    • Joo Yeoh says:

      I was told that ikan bills is very small, why can’t you consider eating it?, when i asked the Malay stall seller if it was vegetarian. Again, insensitivity towards other faiths.

  • Khairil Anwar says:

    This is happening because this what Malay parents are drilling into their children’ s head. Anything by the non Muslim according to them is dirty, inpure and not halal. One thing I can say I have been to quite a number of non muslim homes which are much much much much cleaner than those pious Muslims. I feel ashame that we Muslims on talk about spiritual cleanliness( which is also failing with all the corruptions going on) but we fail when it comes to physical cleanliness. If you don’t believe me go to Kelantan, the so called
    Islamic Ruled state. Look at those rubbish that is laying around some of those Muslim houses.

  • kochidarma says:

    Mariam, thank you very much for writing this article. You are the first Malay who is addressing this very important issue. I am really very saddened by this social trend in our multi-racial country. A lot of non-Malays have stopped inviting Malay friends for their functions that involve serving of food. Even if it is bought from mamak restaurant and served with plastic spoons and plates they would not touch and give a lot of lame excuses. For those of you who are interested, I have made a personal comment pertaining to this in the article just before this. Born in the 50s, with a very heavy heart, I have to say this – Our country has lost its innocence. Instead of converging, the different races are going along parallel paths.

  • Naransamy Redy Manoharan says:

    Malays are two faces.When they are in overseas they eat nonhalal.In malaysia they eat halal.Hypocrite

  • an lim says:

    One Malay colleague suggested I brought boiled water to a potluck lunch at our place of work. However, when they made drinks, they used water brought by Malay colleagues only. How did I feel?

  • Ak says:

    Its just staying in control. Especially our religious leaders.

  • Joe Stephen says:

    Very true it is a growing trend of good number of malays who have forgotten to use their intellegence to decide the rationality of open house and the desire to build a harmonious community of loving and respecting all people of all religions. The preacher irrational they are have posioned the minds to good muslims .

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