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Six Stereotypical Malaysian Dreams

We all have dreams. Some are metaphorical, some are wet and some are downright pragmatic. But for most of the rakyat, these dreams are commonly shared. Whether it’s becoming the next Akademi Fantasia star or a Thomas Cup champion, here are some of the stereotypical dreams us Malaysians harbour.

1. Having A White Wedding

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Since the dawn of Malaya and the triumphant arrival of the British, Malaysians have always looked to Caucasian people as the gold standard of mankind. Whether it be British, American or European, the white man’s influence on the humble Malaysian is a culturally honoured tradition.

It’s hard to explain the exact reasons for this spell that white people cast on us but you could perhaps attribute it to their looks and charm, superior exchange rate and unparalleled knowledge of Western TV and cinema.

It’s great to date a white person but surely the ultimate goal is to marry one! And why is that you ask? Well for one, marriage to a white person automatically grants you a higher status among average Malaysians who probably haven’t met any white people before, save for the random kwailo at Petaling Street who asks for directions to the Twin Towers. Implicitly, it also means your physical attributes are top notch (this is especially true of the almost mythical Asian man-White woman relationship). Another plus is that your accent will miraculously change overnight, so you’ll go from sounding like Hiew Chak Man to Hugh Jackman.

It must be noted however that the success rate of Malaysian women scoring a white partner is astronomically higher than that of a Malaysian man with a White woman. This is a conundrum that has plagued average Malaysian men forever but a solution may lie in this equation: Malaysian man + Money = Success with White woman.

The most important part of the Malaysian + White union is that your future offspring is open to a whole new world that is filled with free healthcare, quality education, human rights and four seasons of weather. And the best part about living abroad is being able to return to Malaysia during the holidays and say “We do things differently back home”.

Difficulty Level: 2/10 for females, 12/10 for males.


2. Becoming Best Buds With A Dato’

If you want to be rich and famous, you’ve got to know the rich and famous. And there’s no better person to know than a Dato’.

You know the type of people who go out of their way to attend parties or social events and try to talk to everyone there? These are people on a mission to schmooze their way to the top and it’s their lifelong dream to accumulate a list of contacts so extensive that they won’t ever have to lift a productive finger in their lives ever again. At the top of their list is of course, a Dato’.

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Contacts equal contracts and being compadres with a Dato’ can be that foundation on which your outstation palace can be built. Befriend a Dato’, do him some favours, make him some money and it won’t be long before you’re invited to join the inner circle. Which brings us to the next Malaysian dream.

Difficulty Level: 3/10 provided you’re willing to put in the hours (and some shameless sucking up).


3. Becoming A Dato’

So you paid your dues, did the dirty work and coughed up the membership fees. Congratulations, you’re now a Dato’!

So what are the perks? Well for one, you get to know a lot more people than you previously did, You also find that despite having more money, people seem to want to pay for your meals and services instead. The great part about being a Dato’ is of course, making more money by doing less work. You now have the same type of people who you previously were one of, coming to you with proposals and plans for projects that only require your “support” and financial backing. You will also find yourself being invited to join the board of more than one organization. Of course, then what you want to do is to keep adding more words to that title to see whether you can ruin some poor journalist’s page margins by the time you retire.

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Editor’s Note: One of CILISOS’s backers is a Tan Sri, who is grudgingly, not on this list.

Besides the financial responsibilities and perks, you would also find yourself becoming inexplicably attractive towards the fairer sex. Young women and ladies love your distinguished aura, refined demeanor and large bank account. So much so that they can often be heard telling themselves “wage before age”.

Difficulty Level: 7/10. 5/10 if you have family money to purchase membership to the Dato’ Club.

China is making it easier for Malaysian Chinese to stay over. But why would they do that?


4. Becoming A Local Celebrity

A new local celebrity is born every minute, given the local appetite and desire to not just be a face, but a name. There are two guaranteed qualifiers for achieving celebrity status in Malaysia; mixed blood and/or good looks (talent is not necessary but would be a bonus). Foreigners with the faintest Malaysian roots or lineage are increasingly aware of this and thus head back to the country they always heard about from their parents at family dinners and bedtime stories.

The typical career progression for a Malaysian celebrity takes the following path:

i. Debut: star in a locally produced drama or comedy while modelling in local magazines

“Lia berkemban untuk popular?”

ii. Ascension: host a series of trite and tested reality shows or music programs (borrowed foreign TV format), host short lived talk show)

“Aaron Aziz Kena Kritik Kerana ‘Fear Factor’, Tidak Berkecil Hati”

 iii. Stagnation: participate and/or headline local theater productions plus TV commercials for stuff no one wants

“Lisa Surihani Duta Marigold Peel Fresh Malaysia!”

iv. Decline: when looks fade and star wanes, head to radio stations and emcee at local events like university proms or Secretary’s Day

“Serenading Secretaries – Ning Baizura”

v. Demise: where careers go to die; contributor to magazine and newspaper articles/ last resort: open tacky and pretentious, overpriced restaurant

“No laughing matter”

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Traditionally, celebrity status could only be accomplished via mediums such as television or cinema but the Internet has become a channel in which the talentless can also shine. All one needs is a gimmick or novelty that ties into current events. If all else fails though, there is always the tried and tested route to being (in)famous: sex scandals!

Difficulty Level: 8/10. 6/10 Less if you know a Dato’!


5. Becoming A Badminton Champ


Malaysia is not known for its prowess as a sporting nation. In fact, it’s pretty hard to root for Malaysian athletes because you don’t get to see them progressing very far in tournaments or winning accolades. This is why Malaysian people watch foreign football leagues as opposed to the domestic one. But there is one sport where Malaysian people excel in and support fervently: Badminton.

Every Malaysian person who was ever born has tried their hand at Badminton at least once. There’s something inexplicable that draws Malaysian people to Badminton at an early age and inspires some to pursue professional careers. It could be the fact Badminton is easier to play and is less physically demanding than contact sports. Or perhaps it’s because deep down in the heart of each Malaysian parent lies the hope that their child could be the next great Malaysian Badminton player. Although Badminton may not be as athletically revered as Track & Field or Swimming, Malaysians have stuck with it and over the decades have produced a throng of Badminton prodigies.

You might contend that Badminton is equally popular in Indonesia, China and maybe even Denmark, but I assure you no other country has as many aspiring Badminton players as Malaysia. For evidence of this, observe the burgeoning young talents who play Badminton with their neighbours over the fence or the out of shape average joe who fuels his Badminton fantasies every weekend at the neighbourhood courts.

The best part though, if you do indeed get to be a true star, is that you can pretty much check everything off this list, perhaps except the next one.

Difficulty Level: 1/10 because Malaysians Boleh! But realistically 11/10 to be a professional player.

6. Bagging the Bargain of the Century

A Malaysian’s life is often driven by the desire to get the best deal or value for money proposition, be it in the form of food, real estate, vehicles, apparel or even cab fare. It is a standard practice for any Malaysian to open purchasing negotiations with the ever-popular “Got discount ah?”.

Retailers take our stingy nature into consideration and often inflate prices of goods or services artificially so that a larger discount can be given to customers. This will then result in the customer feeling overjoyed that a large monetary saving was made (without thinking why such a large discount was possible to begin with). The average Malaysian’s hunt for bargains is so ingrained into the nation’s cultural fabric that there are more megasales than there are public holidays.

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The pursuit of the discount and good bargains is a perpetual one, indicative of the average Malaysian’s lifelong goal to bag the ultimate deal that can be the feather in their cap. But until this is accomplished, we will never be very far from hearing the next “So expensive, give more discount lah!”.

Difficulty Level: 10/10, because the Malaysian pursuit of the next great bargain is a never-ending journey.


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