Westernisation and “Cultural Relativism”; Decreasing Cultural Values Among Citizens in Malaysia

INTRODUCTION

            The Cultural values play an active role in every human’s life which is defined in varied ways in different parts of world. These values can be understood as particular standards which defines any course of action acceptable or unacceptable, right or wrong within society. These values binds a person within various courses of action because of which a human decides beforehand to do any action or not (Andaya & Andaya, 2016). However, as per the current scenario, it has been witnessed that with various kinds of advancements within any country, people of society tend to become more opulent. In this setting, the noble values, morals and spirit of society often tends to reduce. The extinction of these values within different nations is due to a number of reasons which must be understood and tried to be recovered.

            In Malaysia, lack of practice of Malaysian values and spirit of being a good citizen is a recent issue which is more common among the young generation. The reason behind this set-up is various challenges for which it is essential to implement some concrete practices. The major reasons can be enlisted as greater westernisation in culture, reduced attention of families towards children, lesser education related to citizenship values etc. (Merriam & Muhamad, 2013).

Decreasing citizenship values in Malaysia

            In the current scenario, there is greater influence of western countries over lots of nations which has impacted the culture and values of these places. Malaysia is also not an exception in this case. Within country, there can be seen numerous things which are based on westernized culture. Clothing, accessories, languages, TV shows, products and services and many more things are western culture. There are many schools of international standards where, languages like Spanish, English and French are given more importance than the mother tongue of Malaysia like Mandarin or Malay. Students have also developed more interest within these languages and foreign culture as they are seeing more scope towards this (Teik, 2014). Many TV shows and entertainment channels showing western shows have also played an active role in encouraging closeness with foreign values. These have posed a challenge among Malaysian citizens to save their identity as an individual.

The younger generation is more prone to this situation as they are the future of their country and they are not aware of their very own culture and values. Besides this, young generation come across to these products and services more often owing to which the impact is also greater. In such situation, it is significant to grow understanding about values and morals since childhood among them.

For an instance, in Hindus, cow is considered to be the mother and should not be slaughtered for any purpose. This may be deemed as a cultural value or a custom which is very strongly believed by every Hindu because of which they will accept to die from starving rather than slaughtering cow for eating. This makes it clear that properly developed cultures and values among people always help them to bind with right action. Further, it is also quite useful for making a person responsible and a good citizen (Juhdi, Pa’wan & Hansaram, 2013).

From various studies and observations, it is also witnessed frequently that increasing trend of competition within market is also one of the reason behind it. Most of the parents are not able to manage the household spending alone therefore both of them start making money. While on other hand, many parents are very much career oriented that they always give higher priority to job. In such scenario, children are generally left on their own and they are not paid enough attention when they need it.

Therefore, they do not have good understanding about right values and spirit towards their nation. This gradually has resulted into ignorance among youngsters towards Malaysian culture (Rahman & Khambali, 2013). They are not prioritizing said culture and values which might result into lose of true Malaysian values. This situation can be very perilous and need to be improved so as to encourage youths to retain their culture and spirit.

This situation also states that school education is not really enough for children in cultivating social values. Their home is a first place of education where parents are responsible for growing this understanding among them. A strong family institution is highly necessary to make children realize that they have some responsibility towards their nation and they are responsible to keep it alive for years (Ahmad, Rahim & Seman, 2013). In case of Malaysia, it is mandatory to understand that with economic development, they have to make a right balance of moral values as well so as to retain and save their own culture. Youths are getting more inclined towards social ills like bullying, rules breaking, not respecting old ones, lack of courtesy etc. Therefore, this situation states that country should start thinking over it seriously.

Lack of Patriotism

            Another challenge for Malaysia is lack of patriotism among citizens. It is worth mentioning that patriotism is a significant factor which shapes the society (Mohamed Yunos, Ismail & Smith, 2012). The history of Malaysia is quite rich and infers the struggle faced by people for making it a free and independent nation. The development of a country can be expected only if it is progressed in all of its spheres. For instance, from the studies, it is found that most of the population born after independence of Malaysia is anti-patriotic. This idea shows less sense of patriotism among young generation that requires to be improved. In Malaysia, people belonging to varied culture, races and customs are dwelling. Hence, added efforts are required to enhance patriotism among them. The imbalance in relations based on races and ethnicity is a major threat which impedes the level of patriotism within citizens (Grapragasem, Krishnan & Mansor, 2014).

To mitigate above mentioned challenges related to patriotism, education system may play an active role. The higher education institutions must emphasize over ethnic relations. Many students do not make greater interaction with other fellow students as they differ in ethnicity and religion. Therefore, entire society needs to be developed which comprises of people belonging to different castes and races.

So, the practice related to patriotism must be focused around economical, political as well as social and cultural atmosphere (Chua, 2012). After getting liberty, the concerned people made many efforts so as to put in more values for developing the country on overall basis. These values must be inculcated within children as well as among young generations so that they can have a feel of proud for their country.

Another suggestion includes making stress on using other language so as to keep in touch with motherland. In present case, the major challenge is posed in the form of greater individualism among young generation where youths put their individual interest higher over national interest.  As a result, they keep on searching for better alternatives in all aspects. From the western culture, they have found more fascinating spheres by learning many foreign languages (Asnawi, Gravell & Wills, 2012). In such scenario, they completely ignore their mother language which is found in the research that use of Malay language is reducing day by day as compared to foreign languages. From the studies, it has been discovered that language plays a critical role in accelerating harmony among people. Thus, encouraging use of national language among people will definitely aid in getting objective accomplished.

Other causes of reducing moral values

            There are some of scientific grounds as well which can be blamed for discussed situation among teenagers. From the studies, it is revealed that development of brain among teenagers is different from the adults. Consequently, youths differ in thinking capacity from adults and sometimes make poor decisions as well (Farooqui & et.al., 2012). Therefore, it is necessary to understand this concept as well and make process of inculcating moral values and ethos among them in a structured way. They do not have an expertise in decision making skill and therefore they should be given opportunities to develop their capacity within proper guidance. Similarly, there can be some other aspects as well in the same realm of critical setting which must be given apt thought.

            Influence of parents among children is likely to have a large impact on many of their activities. The skill of making decisions, behavior, attitudes and perceptions of teenagers may have great similarities with their parents (Habidin & et.al., 2014). As a result, the parents must be aware from the very beginning about this fact so as to behave accordingly. They must strive to create a favorable environment for their children with greater number of positive elements. The values and spirit that are grown in childhood continues to thrive lifelong. In teenage, it is common to have the influence of peers on children. With growing age, children come into contact with number of persons who become their friends, colleagues, partners etc. In this condition, they are influenced by them in various ways which may shape their values in further way. At this time, it is essential to keep a watch over these influences and guide towards right direction (Zakaria, Samad & Shafii, 2012).

            In current conditions, the influence of press and media has also accelerated. It is quite obvious that children learn from observations a lot. As a result, if they do not have a good role model, they may move towards wrong direction. In present time, the celebrities and TV shows that telecast various channels are viewed by many teenager populations. Consequently, they try to imitate their behavior and lifestyles to look like them. If their choice is not good in this setting, it may become a major concern. Therefore, parents must pay attention on actions of their children and be a good guide. Parents must also exercise noble values and education within their daily lives in front of their children so that they can also learn by observing them (Tohit, Browning & Radermacher, 2012).

            The platform of social media is currently playing a significant role in shaping culture and values of many countries. The social media is giving opportunity to exchange different cultures, values, languages and many more aspects. However, this phenomenon is acceptable till it is for knowledge purpose or for satisfying curiosities. While, the fact is teenagers are becoming more oriented towards social media sites and have a deeper influence (Cairns, Gardner & Lawton, 2013). They have created their own world around it and have started living in this very own place ignoring real facts and specifics. In such scenario, it is recommendable for parents to interfere and make their children aware about good and bad of their usage on social media platforms.

            A rare cause of this increasing concern related to lack of moral values and spirit can be mental health. Many teenagers are nowadays suffering from some disorders which are the reason for their inability of showing empathy towards others (Mohamad & et.al., 2012). Besides this, they lack courtesy and make poor choices more often. However, this condition is rare but parents need to be aware of this situation so as to know the reason behind unexpected behavior of children. Such mental disorders must be treated by only professionals for better results and right treatment.

            In case of Malaysia, the above stated reasons and challenges are quite applicable which is supported by many researches and studies observed by many scholars. From these studies, the major reasons behind diminishing cultural values and spirit has been found out (Asnawi, Gravell & Wills, 2012). For mitigating these situations, there can be number of possible solutions that are required to be implemented in a structured way.

Possible solutions

            The causes stated for decrease in practice of Malaysian values and spirit especially among young generation is very common in many other countries as well. The primary step towards this must be started by the parents. As per the current scenario, they ought to understand that creating a strong base for their children is crucial. Developing moral education and making them aware about noble values, courtesy and spirit for their nation should be taught in childhood. The parents who are doing jobs must also realize that paying attention on their children is also a compulsory aspect that must not be ignored. Today’s teenagers are very much advanced and have the potential to learn things faster (Salleh  & et.al. 2014). Also they are influenced easily by negative aspects which make it quite essential to keep them in watch. They also required to be guided regularly so as to keep them on track.

            Usually, at the time of teenage, they do not have a very good skill of making choices so they may not show much interest in learning values and spirit. Therefore, they are needed to be handled with patience and give more information about learning these things and its importance for them. As mentioned above about decreasing trend of using mother language is also making them isolated from required values and cultures (Teik, 2014). Therefore, they must be encouraged to learn foreign languages for knowledge and enhancing their skills but that should not be done by ignoring the importance of learning their own language. This can be a small but a strong step towards conserving the noble values and spirit among the young generation. Along with this, they must be made aware of historical education. Malaysian history has stories of struggle and sacrifices which must be in knowledge of the teenagers so that they can learn to respect their liberty. In addition to this, it has been pointed out that interaction among students is less as everyone belongs to different ethnicity or culture. The tutors may also help in this regard by persuading students to interact more and make a good bonding (Juhdi, Pa’wan & Hansaram, 2013). In this way, they can also learn to respect their own culture as well of others. Moreover, courtesy and noble values can also be inculcated easily.

            Lastly, the major attention should be made from childhood by giving more time and care by parents so as to spend their time in teaching those required values and culture towards their nation. Moreover, making them conscious about various social media and role models is also a work of responsibility so that they can start with making right choices. The family institutions as well as education system, both should make combined efforts to make young generation, a responsible and valued citizen (Ahmad, Rahim & Seman, 2013).

CONCLUSION

            The present essay is based on contemporary topic which is common for almost every country. In the present essay, a discussion is made over reducing noble values and spirit mainly in the young generation of Malaysia. As per this, the effort has been made to understand the importance of these values for citizens and country. Accordingly, the challenges that are posed in present situations has been enlisted which highlights some of the common reasons behind it. The chief ones are increasing westernization, lack of patriotism and lesser attention of parents on their children. From the studies, it is discovered that there is lack of courtesy as well where there is no place of thanks and please among children. However, it is the question more of how everyone treats others regardless of their religion, ethnicity and other differences (Grapragasem, Krishnan, & Mansor, 2014). Therefore, some suggestions have been made which states that family institutions and education system can play a great role in improving this situation. Children come across with their parents and teachers more often because of which they must be given proper teachings related to what course of action is right or wrong.

REFERENCES

Books and Journals

Ahmad, A. R., Rahim, A., & Seman, A. A. (2013). Active learning through history subject towards racial unity in Malaysia. The Social Science, 8(1), 19-24.

Andaya, B. W., & Andaya, L. Y. (2016). A history of Malaysia. Macmillan International Higher Education.

Asnawi, A. L., Gravell, A. M., & Wills, G. B. (2012, February). Factor analysis: Investigating important aspects for agile adoption in Malaysia. In AGILE India (AGILE INDIA), 2012 (pp. 60-63). IEEE.

Asnawi, A. L., Gravell, A. M., & Wills, G. B. (2012, February). Factor analysis: Investigating important aspects for agile adoption in Malaysia. In AGILE India (AGILE INDIA), 2012 (pp. 60-63). IEEE.

Cairns, J., Gardner, R., & Lawton, D. (2013). Education for values: morals, ethics and citizenship in contemporary teaching. Routledge.

Chua, L. (2012). Conversion, continuity, and moral dilemmas among Christian Bidayuhs in Malaysian Borneo. American Ethnologist, 39(3), 511-526.

Farooqui, M., Hassali, M. A., Shatar, A. K. A., Shafie, A. A., Seang, T. B., & Farooqui, M. A. (2012). Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use by Malaysian oncology patients. Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 18(2), 114-120.

Grapragasem, S., Krishnan, A., & Mansor, A. N. (2014). Current trends in Malaysian higher education and the effect on education policy and practice: An overview. International Journal of Higher Education, 3(1), 85.

Habidin, N. F., Shazali, N. A., Ali, N., Khaidir, N. A., & Jamaludin, N. H. (2014). Exploring lean healthcare practice and supply chain innovation for Malaysian healthcare industry. International Journal of Business Excellence, 7(3), 394-410.

Juhdi, N., Pa’wan, F., & Hansaram, R. M. K. (2013). HR practices and turnover intention: the mediating roles of organizational commitment and organizational engagement in a selected region in Malaysia. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 24(15), 3002-3019.

Merriam, S., & Muhamad, M. (2013). Roles traditional healers play in cancer treatment in Malaysia: implications for health promotion and education. Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, 14(6), 3593-3601.

Mohamad, Z. F., Idris, N., Baharuddin, A., Muhammad, A., & Sulaiman, N. M. N. (2012). The role of religious community in recycling: Empirical insights from Malaysia. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 58, 143-151.

Mohamed Yunos, R., Ismail, Z., & Smith, M. (2012). Ethnicity and accounting conservatism: Malaysian evidence. Asian Review of Accounting, 20(1), 34-57.

Rahman, N. F. A., & Khambali, K. M. (2013). Religious tolerance in Malaysia: Problems and challenges. International journal of Islamic thought, 3, 81.

Salleh, N. Z. M., Hamid, A. B. A., Hashim, N. H., & Omain, S. Z. (2014). The practice of Shariah-compliant hotel in Malaysia. International Journal of Trade, Economics and Finance, 5(1), 26.

Teik, K. B. (2014). Nationalism, Capitalism and’Asian Values’. In Democracy in Malaysia (pp. 65-87). Routledge.

Tohit, N., Browning, C. J., & Radermacher, H. (2012). ‘We want a peaceful life here and hereafter’: healthy ageing perspectives of older Malays in Malaysia. Ageing & Society, 32(3), 405-424.

Zakaria, A. A. M., Samad, R. R. A., & Shafii, Z. (2012). Venture Philanthropy-Waqf practices and its implementation: Scenario in Malaysia. International Journal of Business, Economics and Law, 1, 108-115.

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