Chinese and Indian cultural influences made their mark when trade began with those countries, and increased with immigration to Malaysia. The arrival of the printing press in Malaysia was key in allowing literature to be accessed by more than those rich enough to afford handwritten manuscripts. English literature remained restricted to the higher class until the arrival of the printing press. Much early Malaysian literature was based on Indian epics, which remained unchanged even as Malays converted to Islam; this has expanded in recent decades. Performing arts and shadow puppet shows are popular, and often show Indian influences. Although festivals often stem from a specific ethnic background, they are celebrated by all people in Malaysia. The culture of Malaysia draws on the varied cultures of the different people of Malaysia. The first Chinese to settle in the Straits Settlements, primarily in and around Malacca, gradually adopted elements of Malaysian culture and intermarried with the Malaysian community and with this, a new ethnic group called emerged, the Peranakan (“Straits Chinese”). When the Federation replaced the short lived Malayan Union, the federation government through the Federal Legislative Council called for a design contest for a new flag. Malaysia hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1998, the first Commonwealth Games where the torch passed through more countries than England and the host.
The Malaysian government has taken the step of defining Malaysian Culture through the “1971 National Culture Policy”, which defined what was considered official culture, basing it around Malay culture and integrating Islamic influences. This especially affected language; only Malay texts are considered official cultural texts. Prior to the creation of the national flag, each state in Malaya had its own flag, many of which are unchanged in design to this day. East Malaysia, Borneo. In Sarawak and Sabah, most of the non-Muslim indigenous groups are classified as Dayaks, and they constitute about 40 percent of the population in the state. Although Islam is the official state religion, the Constitution of Malaysia guarantees freedom of religion. These Chinese have adopted Malay traditions while maintaining elements of Chinese culture such as their largely Buddhist and Taoist religion. While they have adopted Malay culture, they speak their own language and are Catholics. By definition of the Malaysian constitution, all Malays are Muslims. The council was renamed the Olympic Council of Malaysia in 1964, and has participated in all but one Olympic games since the council was formed. Official holidays differ by state; the most widespread one is Merdeka day which celebrates the independence of Malaya.
One dispute, known as the Pendet controversy, began when Indonesians claimed the Pendet Dance was used in an official Malaysian tourism ad campaign, causing official protests. This practice is commonly known as balik kampung and usually causes traffic jams on most highways in the country. 14 alternating red and white stripes along the fly and a blue canton bearing a crescent and a 14-point star known as the Bintang Persekutuan (Federal Star). The original culture of the area stemmed from its indigenous tribes, along with the Malays who moved there in ancient times. The Malaysian government and the Indonesian government have met to defuse some of the tensions resulting from the overlaps in culture. The Chinese have integrated with Malay culture in a number of areas, including parts of Terengganu, and they form Malayanised groups such as the Baba Chinese in Malacca and the Sino-Kadazan of Sabah. Cuisine is often divided along ethnic lines, but some dishes exist which have mixed foods from different ethnicities.
The structure of the government, along with the racial balance of power caused by the idea of a social contract, has resulted in little incentive for the cultural assimilation of ethnic minorities in Malaya and Malaysia. A community of Indians who have adopted Malay cultural practices also exists in Malacca. The Chinese have been settling in Malaysia for many centuries, and form the second-largest ethnic group. Textiles such as the batik, songket, Pua Kumbu, and tekat are used for decorations, often embroidered with a painting or pattern. The Indian community in Malaysia is the smallest of the three main ethnic groups, accounting for about 10 percent of the country’s population. Indian immigrants to Malaysia brought with them the Hindu and Sikh cultures. Other cultures that heavily influenced that of Malaysia include Persian, Arabic, and British. Other sports are dragon dancing and dragon-boat racing. The more common Chinese varieties spoken in Peninsular Malaysia are Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainanese, and Fuzhou. A small community in Malacca are descendants of former Portuguese colonists who married Malay women. 2 September – Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the former Deputy Prime Minister, was released after serving six years in prison.