Malaysian Americans

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Author: Karl Heil
Editor: Thomas Riggs
Date: 2014
Publisher: Gale, a Cengage Company
Document Type: Topic overview
Length: 5,302 words
Lexile Measure: 1310L

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Malaysian Americans

Karl Heil


Malaysian Americans are immigrants or descendants of immigrants from Malaysia, a country located in Southeast Asia. The nation is roughly equally divided between the Malay Peninsula, which lies between the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, and the northern and western parts of the island of Borneo, which is also occupied by Indonesia and Brunei. Malaysia is unique in that its two parts are separated by 400 miles (644 kilometers) of ocean. Malaysia has a combined area of 127,320 square miles (329,758 square kilometers), which is slightly larger than the state of New Mexico.

According to a 2011 World Bank estimate, Malaysia has a population of about 29 million. Islam is the religion of 60 percent of the population; other major religions include Buddhism (19 percent), Christianity (9 percent), and Hinduism (6 percent). Roughly one-half the population is Malay, while ethnic Chinese (24 percent), indigenous groups (11 percent), and ethnic Indians (7 percent) make up the country's largest minorities. The Malaysian economy, considered one of the strongest in Southeast Asia, was once based mostly on the extraction of raw materials such as rubber and tin but has shifted to manufacturing, tourism, and technology. Malaysia is one of the world's leaders in palm-oil production and an exporter of petroleum.

Because Malaysia did not become an independent country until 1957, the period of Malaysian immigration to the United States has been relatively brief. Unlike many other groups, Malaysians have not been driven to migrate by severe economic distress, natural disasters, or serious violent conflict. Instead, many of the Malaysians who have immigrated to the United States have been people of Chinese or Indian descent who have left Malaysia because of ethnic or linguistic discrimination. Their status in the United States is complicated because they are often mistaken for, or they themselves may consider themselves to be, Chinese Americans or Indian Americans. Yet they maintain distinctly Malaysian customs that set them apart. In recent years, Malaysian immigration to the United States has been dominated by Malaysians of educated and professional classes, many of whom retain strong ties to their home country.

According to the American Community Survey, in 2011 there were about 25,000 people of Malaysian ancestry living in the United States, making them one of the smallest Asian American groups. Metropolitan areas with a significant number of Malaysian Americans included Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, San Jose, and Washington.


Early History Archaeological evidence indicates that the ancestors of Malay people migrated to the Malay Peninsula from southern China about 35,000 years ago. At that time the peninsula was occupied by small groups of aboriginal peoples, who gradually retreated into the rain forests. Chinese, Indian, and Arab documents from before 1400 CE contain references to the area that is now Malaysia and show that the Malay Peninsula, with its valuable forest products such as timber and resins, had already become part of a global trading network. Trade connections between the Malay Peninsula and India, dating to as early as the beginning of the Common Era, were particularly strong. Indians set up trade centers along the East Coast of Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula, and these areas were influenced by Indian scripts, laws, literature, Hinduism, and Buddhism. From the thirteenth century, China also began to expand its trade substantially in the region.

In about 1400 a major trading port developed in Melaka on the western coast of the Malay Peninsula. A prince from Palembang in Sumatra became its first ruler, and he received recognition as such by the Chinese around 1405. The port became a nexus for trade, the spread of Islam, and the dissemination of the Malay language to other islands of Southeast Asia, including what is now Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore. During this period there were several significant developments that helped to shape aspects of contemporary Malaysia. First, the rulers of Melaka accepted Islam around 1430, and as a result Islam supplanted a localized form of Hindu-Buddhist beliefs as the dominant religion. Second, the country's sultanate structure consisting of various states ruled by a Muslim leader and a court elite evolved, and the notion that “to be a Malay is to be a Muslim” took root. Third, Melaka became one of the greatest powers in the region because of its ideal location on the Straits of Melaka, serving as a meeting place where traders exchanged local products and spices from eastern Page 156  |  Top of ArticleIndonesia for cloth from India and ceramics and other goods from China. The burgeoning wealth of Melaka piqued the interest of Europeans. The Portuguese attacked and seized the town in 1511. Despite this victory, the Portuguese faced frequent attacks from the refugee rulers as well as from Java and Aceh. The Portuguese retained control of Melaka until 1641, when the Dutch East India Company conquered it and subsequently became the region's dominant European trader.

Under Dutch rule Melaka's importance and size diminished. The Dutch tried to exploit trade in gold, tin, and pepper. To do so, they exacted high duties from merchant vessels passing through Melaka. Although many ships navigated around Dutch-controlled territories to avoid paying these duties, Dutch efforts proved successful overall. Melaka remained under Dutch rule for more than two centuries, but Great Britain eventually came to control sizable interests in the region. In 1786 the British East India Company established a port to the north, on the island of Penang, which competed with Dutch-held Melaka, and in 1819 Britain claimed the island of Singapore. The British took temporary control of Melaka in 1795, and in 1824 the Anglo-Dutch Treaty brought the city under British control.

To facilitate governing Penang, Melaka, and Singapore, Great Britain combined them to form the Straits Settlements in 1867. Because the British were interested exclusively in trade, they initially followed a policy of noninterference in the Malay states. Social upheaval in the region, however, eventually forced Britain to play a greater role in the affairs of the Peninsula Malay states. In 1874 an agreement with the ruler of the state of Perak allowed for the appointment of a British adviser. This was followed by agreements with four other states, which were brought together in 1896 as the Federated Malay States. Subsequently, the remaining states also accepted a British advisor. By World War I the British controlled all of the Malay Peninsula, through direct rule in the Straits Settlements and indirect rule in the nine Malay states. Also by this time, the Borneo state of Sarawak was under the control of the Brookes (an English family) and Northern Borneo was under the control of a chartered company.

The economy of British Malaya was radically changed during the colonial period. Many Chinese arrived to work in tin mines while the British brought in Indians to work on rubber plantations. Malays generally continued as farmers and fishermen and were vastly outnumbered in urban areas. The economic tensions that resulted, however, did not surface until after Malaysia's independence. British rule became increasingly centralized, but when World War II broke out Britain was unprepared for the Japanese invasion of early 1941. Japan seized Malaya, Sarawak, and North Borneo, and it occupied them until the war ended in 1945. Race relations deteriorated during the war because the Malays were generally favored by the Japanese and the Malayan Chinese Communist Party was helping lead anti-Japanese activities.

Modern Era After the war, Britain administered the Malay states and the Straits Settlements of Penang and Melaka as the Malayan Union, which was superseded in 1948 by the Federation of Malaya. A movement to gain independence from Britain took root, but it had to overcome the differences among the various ethnic groups in the peninsula, especially those between the Malays, the Chinese, and the Indians. Around 1950 the Alliance Party, representing the country's three major ethnic groups, emerged as a voice for independence, and the federation became independent of British rule in 1957. In 1963 the federation was joined by the Borneo states Sabah and Sarawak, and it changed its name to the Federation of Malaysia. Singapore entered the federation in 1963, too, but defected in 1965 because of disputes with the Malaysian leadership.

During its infancy, Malaysia faced opposition from Indonesia, which attacked Malaysian states in an effort to break up the fledgling country. Indonesia saw Malaysia as a throwback to the colonial era with its dependence on British military assistance. Malaysia also saw growing conflict between its Malay and ethnic-Chinese citizens. Race riots in May 1969 resulted in as many as 2,000 dead, and they prompted the New Economic Policy of 1970, an affirmative-action policy designed to reduce the economic inequality between the rural ethnic Malays and urban Chinese Malaysians. It also played a major role in transitioning the nation's economy from one based on raw-material exports to one based on manufacturing. Yet some criticized it for ineffectiveness and for unfairly favoring Malays, and it played a role in driving the “brain drain” of educated Indian and Chinese Malaysians to other countries, including the United States, Great Britain, and India. Nevertheless, economic changes ultimately proved successful to a large extent in expanding the overall economy and helping rural Malays move into urban areas and reap a greater share of the country's economic benefits. As a result the country enjoyed relative prosperity and stability in the late twentieth century. It expanded its manufacturing capacity and embarking on a wide range of major infrastructure projects, including the construction of the Petronas Towers, which were the world's tallest buildings from 1998 to 2004.

The Asian economic crisis of the late 1990s caused significant damage to the country's economy, undermining its currency and property markets. Although the country recovered in the next decade, profiting from higher prices for its petroleum exports and new investments in biotechnology and other high-tech industries, some observers warned that Malaysia remained vulnerable to global economic shifts because of its export-dependent economy. In addition, concerns over the country's ability to retain its educated citizens Page 157  |  Top of Articlecontinued. The World Bank reported in 2011 that as many as 20 percent of Malaysians with college degrees were opting to live elsewhere, drawn by better career prospects and compensation elsewhere. Because of discriminatory policies in Malaysia, emigrating Chinese and Indian Malaysians constituted a relatively high percentage of educated Malaysians leaving the country.


Many Malaysian Americans live in U.S. metropolitan areas, particularly in financial centers such as New York and San Francisco. They are a relatively young, educated Asian American group. According to the American Community Survey, the average age of a Malaysian American was thirty-three in 2009. Consistent with concerns about a “brain drain,” Malaysian Americans have above-average educational attainment among Asian American groups, with 93 percent possessing a high school degree or higher, and 57 percent possessing at least a bachelor's degree—well above the averages for most American ethnic groups.


Bahasa Malaysia, a standardized version of Malay, is the official language of the country and is spoken by more than half of the population. Ethnic Chinese, Indians, and indigenous groups tend to speak the languages of their respective peoples. Because the use of Malay as the national language of Malaysia is viewed as a sensitive topic by Chinese and Indian ethnic minorities, tensions can arise among different Malaysian American groups regarding language use.

English is the second language of Malaysia and is commonly spoken by Malaysian Americans, even recent immigrants. Roughly 30 percent of Malaysian Americans speak only English at home. However, about 20 percent have only limited English proficiency—a relatively low rate among Asian American populations. In 2010 about 20 percent of Malaysian American households were considered “linguistically isolated,” meaning that no resident of the home over sixteen years of age spoke English proficiently. Malaysian Americans who do not speak English mostly speak Malay, though some speak Chinese. There are about 13,000 Malay speakers in the United States.


Like other aspects of Malaysian American culture, religion depends on ethnic background. In Malaysia nearly all Malays and some Chinese and Indian Malaysians are Muslims. The Malaysian government ensures freedom of religion, and many Chinese Malaysians are Christian, while others practice Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism. The majority of Indian Malaysians are Hindus or Sikhs, although some are Christians. The indigenous Malay-Polynesian religion has influenced to some extent the other religions practiced in Malaysia.


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Given the diversity of religions in Malaysia, there is considerable variation in the religions practiced by Malaysian Americans, and some conflict exists between adherents to different religious groups. Most Malaysian Americans practice their faith in houses of worship alongside people of different origin or ethnicity. Yet there is also a desire among Malaysians in the United States to band together to maintain a rooted national identity.

Malaysian Sunni Muslims believe that the prayers and language of Islam came from Allah through Muhammad. They therefore consider the words powerful in and of themselves, and their religious practices include chants and readings of the holy words and prayers of Islam. In the United States, most Muslim Malaysian Americans worship in mosques with people of a variety of ethnicities.

Chinese Malaysians tend to believe or follow one of the three main religions of China—Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism—though many are Christians. The doctrines of Confucianism call for strong family ties; Daoist beliefs emphasize spiritual and mystical life over materialism; and Buddhism holds that there is salvation and reincarnation and that people must venerate their ancestors. Outside of California and New York, there are few organized Buddhist temples in the United States and very few Daoist monasteries. Therefore, Malaysians who live elsewhere who wish to maintain their faith typically need to do so in private practice.

Most Indian Malaysian Americans are Hindus, and most venerate a major Hindu deity such Shiva. They also try to live up to a variety of ideals and practice a range of rituals. The beliefs of the Hindus emphasize family welfare, land cultivation, and veneration of the family home. Hindu temples are designed as homes for the gods rather than for communal worship, and Hindus go to temples to give offerings and receive blessings. Hindu priests tend to the temples, maintaining shrines, accepting offerings, and serving as intermediaries between humans and gods. In the United States, most Hindu temples are clustered in metropolitan areas in California, Illinois, Texas, and New York. Hindu Malaysian Americans living in other areas may find it necessary to practice their religion more informally or at home.


According to the American Community Survey, in 2009 about 70 percent of Malaysian Americans were foreign born. Most maintain overt cultural, familial, and economic ties with their home country. This is particularly true among ethnic Malays, who are more likely to view their stay in the United States as short-term. Just over one-quarter of Malaysian Americans were citizens in 2011, well below the average for Asian American populations.

Because Malaysia has long had a very global society and has been open to Western entertainment, music, and dress, assimilation is relatively smooth for most Malaysian Americans. Recently, however, many Malaysian Americans have begun to celebrate and assert their national identity—even beyond differences in ethnic origins—through festivals of Malaysian food, art, and culture.

A vendor preparing food at the Malaysia Noodle Market in New York City's Meatpacking District. A vendor preparing food at the Malaysia Noodle Market in New York City's Meatpacking District. RICHARD LEVINE / ALAMY

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Cuisine The cuisine of Malaysian Americans depends on the particulars of ethnicity, although rice and noodles are common across all groups. Muslim Malays do not eat pork and Indian Malays do not eat beef. Nevertheless, the mélange of cultures in Malaysia has led to interesting crossover between different ethnic groups' signature dishes.

Among the more popular Malaysian dishes of Malay origin eaten in the United States are satay (grilled chicken and beef skewers), kari ayam (a chicken curry dish), and nasi lemak (coconut rice accompanied by chili paste, anchovies, vegetables, and other foods).

Ethnic Chinese Malaysians developed their own brand of Chinese cuisine, which varies from the food of mainland China, and Chinese-influenced dishes eaten in Malaysian American restaurants are different from dishes seen in Chinese American restaurants. Popular dishes include prawn noodle soup and char kway teow, a stir-fried rice noodle dish. Chinese Malaysian Americans have also adopted Indian-style curries, though they are generally prepared to be less spicy.

Malaysian American dishes of Indian origin tend to reflect the cuisine of southern India and include curries and roti canai (a crispy pancake). Indian Malaysians also enjoy teh tarik, a sweet milk tea that is more like Thai tea than Indian chai.

Because Muslims do not eat pork and Hindus do not eat beef, in Malaysia Muslims and Hindus tend to eat at separate restaurants to maintain their dietary rules. In the United States, however, they often set aside these strict rules and eat at a restaurant that may also be serving food they do not eat. In addition, to satisfy American tastes, some Malaysian dishes are modified when they are served in the United States. For instance, most spicy dishes are less spicy, and the foods that accompany many dishes may be different.

In 2010 Susheela Rhagavan, an Indian Malaysian American, published a cookbook called Flavors of Malaysia, featuring dishes from across Malaysia's ethnic groups and regions. The book received high praise from chefs and other culinary experts and sparked considerable interest in Malaysian cuisine.

Traditional Costumes Because Malaysia is a largely Islamic country, the traditional clothing of Malaysian Muslims reflects Islamic beliefs in modesty—that is, keeping the body covered, especially among women. Nevertheless, Malaysian Muslim clothing tends to be colorful with abstract and floral patterns and embroidery, much of it influenced heavily by Indian design. Some Muslim Malaysian Americans continue this modest dress in the United States, but others do not. Chinese Malaysian Americans are generally very Westernized and do not retain traditional clothing in the United States. Indian Malaysian Americans are more likely to alternate between traditional clothing, including colorful saris for women and the Punjabi suit for men, and Western-style clothing.

Holidays Some Malaysian Americans celebrate Malaysia's Independence Day, August 31, and the birthday of the Agong (Malaysia's king), which is celebrated on the first Saturday in June. In addition, Malaysian Americans may observe a number of other holidays, depending on their ethnicity. Because Islamic, Chinese, and Hindu calendars are all lunar calendars, these holidays do not have set dates and change from year to year.

Islamic Malaysian Americans may observe Hari Raya Puasa (or Hari Raya), which comes at the end of Ramadan (Puasa in Malay). This holiday involves special prayers at the mosque and gatherings of families and friends. For the occasion, people dress formally and houses are usually decorated with lights.

Ethnic Chinese Malaysian Americans may celebrate China's three important holidays: the Chinese New Year, the Feast of the Hungry Ghosts, and the Moon Cake Festival. The Chinese New Year usually falls in January or February, and its traditional Malaysian celebration involves the closing of businesses for two days, parades, and dances. In addition, the holiday brings families and friends together, usually for dinner and celebration. The Hungry Ghosts Festival usually is held between July and August when it is believed that the spirits of the dead circulate on earth and need to be fed. When celebrating this holiday, Malaysian Americans may offer food to the spirits and hold feasts for themselves. Finally, the Moon Cake Festival, which is held in September around the autumn moon, commemorates the defeat of the Mongols in ancient China. The celebration includes the preparation and eating of pastries that typically contain an egg yolk in the center representing the full moon.

Hindu Malaysian Americans may celebrate the major Hindu holidays. The most popular of these holidays is Deepavali, the Festival of Lights, which usually takes place in October or November. For the holiday, family and friends gather to celebrate stories in which good overcomes evil. Families usually have open houses for the holiday and decorate their homes with colored lights, lamps, fruit, flowers, and other kinds of decorations. Another important Hindu holiday is

Because Malaysia is a largely Islamic country, the traditional clothing of Malaysian Muslims reflects Islamic beliefs in modesty—that is, keeping the body covered, especially among women. Nevertheless, Malaysian Muslim clothing tends to be colorful with abstract and floral patterns and embroidery, much of it influenced heavily by Indian design.

Thaipusam, which usually takes place in January or February. The holiday honors Lord Subramaniam, and it is day of giving thanks for courage and answered

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A Malaysian parade float in Pasadena, California, c. 1990. A Malaysian parade float in Pasadena, California, c. 1990.

prayers. Traditionally, the holiday includes more elaborate celebrations such as parades and processions.


As with so many other aspects of the Malaysian American community, many details of family and community life depend on ethnic and religious backgrounds. However, all of the major Malaysian American groups place a high value on family, which often includes the extended family and older generations in the household. Many Malaysian Americans move in with other Malaysian Americans soon after arriving in the United States and remain nearby after settling. They also maintain ties to each other and their home country.

Gender Roles In Malaysian American life, gender roles and attitudes vary depending on such factors as ethnicity, religion, and how long a family has been in the United States. Generally, Malaysian Americans of ethnic Malay origin place a high value on shared responsibility between men and women within the family, sometimes including older generations that live in the household. The families of Chinese Malaysian Americans often have a greater resemblance to a traditional nuclear family, in which the father works and the mother bears heavier responsibility for managing the household and caring for children. These roles may be more flexible for Chinese Malaysian Americans than they would be for Chinese families in Malaysia.

Education As a relatively well-educated and professional immigrant group, Malaysian Americans generally place a very high value on education for their children. In many Malaysian American families, both boys and girls are expected to attend college and pursue professional careers. This is particularly true for secular Chinese Malaysian Americans and Indian Malaysian Americans. Most Malaysian American children attend secular schools, which may be either public and private, depending on the means of the family. At least 90 percent of the children graduate from high school, a higher percentage than the U.S. national average. As with many Asian Americans, college attendance is relatively high. According to American Community Survey estimates, 54 percent of Malaysian Americans over age twenty-five have at least a bachelor's degree, and 22 percent have more advanced degrees. These levels of academic achievement are nearly has high for Malaysian American women as they are for Malaysian American men. Many Malaysian Americans study business, finance, or science, and many incorporate study abroad into their education.

Weddings and Courtship Malaysian American weddings are often colorful ceremonies, traditionally held in the home of the bride. Many Malaysian Americans return to Malaysia for their wedding ceremony. In a traditional Malay wedding, the groom and his entourage enter the bride's home in procession, accompanied by musicians and singers and bringing gifts. While customs may vary depending on which region and ethnic group Malaysian Americans come from, the bride and the groom both typically wear profusely decorated garments. The bride's costume is decorated with the traditional Malay colors of gold and silver. The ceremony features a lavish feast for the guests as well as the bersanding, in which the bride and groom sit together on ornate chairs while the guests come forth individually to offer their congratulations and blessings. The ceremony also may involve the tepong tawar, a ritual performed by guests of honor who anoint the groom's forehead rice flour or sandalwood and dapple the groom's head and hands with flowers or rice grains.


Malaysian Americans are a relatively prosperous immigrant group. Their per capita income of roughly $33,000 exceeded that of non-Hispanic whites in 2009, and it exceeded that of other Asian Americans Page 161  |  Top of Articleexcept Taiwanese Americans and Indian Americans. Median household income was more than $60,000, which was above the U.S. average overall. Poverty rates stood at 13 percent, while 2009 unemployment was well below that of the United States as a whole, at just 4 percent even amid the Great Recession.

According to the 2011 American Community Survey three-year estimates, about three-quarters of Malaysian Americans work in management, business, science, and sales. Most of the remainder work in service positions. These patterns were true for both male and female Malaysian American workers. The largest proportion of Malaysian Americans—about one-quarter—worked in education or health care. Other significant industries included the arts, professional services, and manufacturing. Very few Malaysian Americans worked in agriculture or construction, reflecting their above-average education and income.

Unlike many ethnic groups, Malaysian Americans largely do not have a story of working their way up from menial industries to professional industries. Many Malaysian Americans came to the United States to do professional work, and they remain relatively affluent among immigrant groups to the United States.

Children of Malaysian Americans are likely expected to attend college and pursue professional careers like those of their parents. Many attend American colleges and plan to live in the United States permanently. In college, many join associations of Malaysian American and Malaysian students.


Because Malaysian Americans are a relatively small, dispersed group, and only one-quarter of them are U.S. citizens, they do not exert a major influence on politics in the United States at any level. Although they have been mentioned in federal legislation pertaining to Asian Americans generally, they have not been the subject of any specific legislation. Overall, their political impact is small.

Malaysian Americans may continue to be active politically in Malaysia, however, since many travel back and forth between the two countries. In addition, because of the “brain drain” issue, Malaysian expatriates have indirectly influenced Malaysian politics as Malaysian leaders attempt to find strategies to keep educated, prosperous Malaysians at home to further the country's development.


Fashion Yeohlee Teng is considered one of the most important Asian American fashion designers. Of Chinese ethnic heritage, she was born in Penang in 1955. She came to the United States in the 1970s and studied fashion at the Parsons School of Fashion, New York. She founded her own fashion house, YEOHLEE, Inc., in 1981. Her work, known for being very minimalist, has been displayed in the New York Metropolitan

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Shirley Geoklin Lim, the daughter of a Chinese father and Malaysian Chinese mother, published Among the White Moon Faces: An Asian-American Memoir of Homelands in 1997. She describes her childhood in Malaysia and her life after age eight when her mother abandoned her family. Unconventionally for Malaysian society, her father was left to raise her and her siblings. She later rejected the role of demure wife in Malaysia, leaving a potential marriage to immigrate to the United States, where she pursued a career as professor, writer, and mother. Her journey is a particularly rich exploration of gender roles in her native and adopted countries. The memoir won a 1997 American Book Award.

Museum of Art and London's Victoria & Albert Museum. In 2004 she received the prestigious Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for fashion design from the Smithsonian Institution. Teng also been active in discussions concerning zoning and planning for New York's Garment District, and she joined the Board of the Municipal Art Society of New York in 2010.

Literature Shirley Geoklin Lim is a renowned novelist, poet, and literary critic who has sought to embody the Malaysian cultural experience. She was born in Malacca, Malaysia, in 1944 and is of Chinese ethnic heritage, although her parents lived a very Westernized lifestyle. Confronting the challenges of cultural identity and language has guided much of her work. She attended the University of Malaya, where she studied English and earned a BA in 1969. After winning a prestigious fellowship, she went on to earn a PhD in English and American Literature at Brandeis University (Massachusetts) in 1973. Her first book of poems, Crossing the Peninsula and Other Poems, won a Commonwealth Prize in 1980. In addition to four other poetry collections, she has published many essays, and stories. Among the White Moon Faces is a memoir concerning her life in Malaysia and the United States. In 2012 she was Professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Music Nicolette Louisa Palikat, better known by the stage name “Nikki,” was born in Michigan in 1985. She is a descendant of the Dusun, an indigenous group from northern Malaysia. She became well known among Malaysians and Malaysian Americans after appearing in 2004 on the Malaysian Idol television program and performing pop hits by a variety of stars, including Mariah Carey, the Jackson 5, and Phil Collins. Though Nikki's performances consisted mostly of songs in English, she is fluent in Malay and the Dusun language. In 2005 she released the album titled Maharani. Her second album, Hawa, was released in 2008.

Stage and Screen Irene Ng, born Sze Ng in 1974, is a Malaysian American actress of Chinese Page 162  |  Top of Articledescent. She is best known for the 1990s Nickelodeon series The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. She also appeared in the Joy Luck Club and several episodes of Law and Order. Ng is a Harvard graduate and has worked as a financial adviser at Merrill Lynch.


Because the Malaysian American population is small, relatively dispersed, and of diverse linguistic and ethnic backgrounds, there are no significant media sources in the United States for Malaysian Americans. For Malaysian news, many read Malaysian newspapers online and watch Malaysian television channels via satellite.


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Malaysian Americans of Michigan (MAM)

Seeks to create a sense of identity among Malaysian Americans living in Michigan and to contribute to members' business success.

Geck Bud, President

Malaysian Association of Southern California (MASC)

Builds business and social ties among Malaysians of southern California to help build a sense of community in the region.

Mimi Lioe, President
P.O. Box 81105
San Marino, California 91118-1105

Malaysian Club of Chicago (MCC)

Promotes personal and professional development for Malaysian Americans and cultural activities to enhance awareness of Malaysian Americans in Illinois.

Stanley Thai, President
601 West 31st Street
Chicago, Illinois 60616

Malaysian Professional Business Association (MPBA)

Helps provide contacts for Malaysians living in the United States or anyone with a Malaysian connection for business and professional opportunities.

Belinda Gong, President
226 Airport Parkway
Suite 480
San Jose, California 95110

Malaysian Students Association at the University of Michigan (U.M.I.M.S.A.)

Strives to unite Malaysian Americans or Malaysians studying in the United States and serves to foster friendships and camaraderie among Malaysian students.

Duo-Ren Cheng, President
Malaysian Students Association at the University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48107-7054


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Asian American Justice Center

Member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice coalition and dedicated to research, education, and advocacy on behalf of the civil rights of Asian American groups.

Maria Etcubañez
1140 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20036-4003
Phone: (202) 296-2300


Andaya, Barbara Watson, and Leonard Y. Andaya. A History of Malaysia. 2nd ed. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2001.

Hopkins, Julian, and Julian C. H. Lee, eds. Thinking Through Malaysia: Culture and Identity in the 21st Century. Selangor, Malaysia: Strategic Information and Research Development Center, 2012.

Lim, Shirley Geoklin. Among the White Moon Faces: An Asian American Memoir of Homelands. New York: Feminist Press, 1996.

Rhagavan, Susheela. Flavors of Malaysia: A Journey through Time, Tastes, and Traditions. New York: Hippocrene Books, 2010.

Tham, Hilary. Lane with No Name: Memoirs and Poems of a Malaysian-Chinese Childhood. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1997.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3273300119