I like living in Malaysia. But, nowhere is perfect. So, I don’t want to be negative, but this is the way I see things, and I do want to be honest:
There seems to be a law for everything, a licence needed for every activity:
So people ignore laws and just do what they think is right.
Motorcycle helmets are compulsory while riding – but half the time riders don’t worry.
Fireworks are illegal – but most Chinese businesses and most Chinese let them off during Chinese New Year. And Indians during their festivals, etc.
To get a driver’s licence it appears you have to learn road rules – but once you drive they are rarely observed.
Red lights for motorcyclists mean go through anyway, but just don’t get hit.
However, the police may decide they need extra revenue on the eve of a Muslim holiday, so that may not be the best time to park on double yellow lines, drive erratically etc..
If you enter a shop that employs people (department stores, boutiques), they shadow you – but if you ask them a question they cannot answer it. They won’t find out for you, either. If you asked them the same question in a week or a month or a year, they still won’t know.
If you change shop departments they will stop shadowing you. If you’re in the mood you can play games with them, ducking from one aisle to another to lose them.
Malaysians cannot bear parking any further than they absolutely have to from their destination. The idea of walking is just untenable. So parking is easy – just park slightly further away and there are plenty of spaces.
It’s hot, the sun is strong, it rains a lot, and the air is salty. Buildings deteriorate.
Maintenance is something best ignored. They build nice shopping malls, condos, etc. the building work being reasonably good, and they are popular for a few years, but the buildings are not repainted, water leaks not fixed, and they become shoddy. The solution – build a new shopping mall somewhere else, and the tenants move there from the old one. Condos are half heartedly repaired if the owners are adamant enough, but they never regain their former glory.
The condo you bought has a nice view? – don’t worry, land will be reclaimed in front of it and a bigger, better condo built – which will block your view.
Almost all shop assistants seem honest, so you’ll receive the correct change unless they accidentally make a mistake.
If you approach people in a friendly manner, almost everyone will be friendly.
If you buy something that is faulty you will not get a refund – you will only get credit to exchange for something else at the same business. If this would be a problem, negotiate before you pay.
Should you become close friends with a local family, and they treat you as part of the family, they may at some stage ask you for a “loan” – as they would with their real family. This seems normal, and you shouldn’t expect your money back if you actually do give them money.
I will add to this as things occur to me.