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  • Writer's pictureYang Xiao

Everyone Should Respect Other Cultures

Writer: Yang Xiao

Editor: Wu Yiwei

Recently, international students of the Faculty of Economics and Management (FEP), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), received emails from the assistant registrar of Center for Shaping Advanced & Professional Education (UKMShape), Mr. Mohamad Nor Isa Zainalabidin, in their student mailboxes. The content of the emails mainly reminds all undergraduates of FEP that they should abide by the rules and regulations on campus. The reason is that many students dress inappropriately on campus, and the dress is too revealing in Muslim countries, which has aroused widespread heated discussions among students.

(Mr MOHAMAD NOR ISA BIN ZAINAL ABIDIN sent an email to all FEP undergraduates. The picture is from Ding Ruijia.)

Located near the equator, Malaysia has a tropical rainforest climate and a tropical monsoon climate, with no obvious four seasons. The annual temperature difference changes very little, and the average temperature is between 26 to 30 degrees Celsius. Except for the rainy days, which are a bit shady, the weather is hot every day. In the eyes of most people, it is very normal to wear short sleeves and shorts in such hot weather. In other countries there is a higher tolerance of what to wear, with shorts and slippers allowed in hot weather and skirts or miniskirts above the knee common for girls.

However, Malaysia is a multicultural country with many ethnic groups living with different cultural traditions, religious beliefs and living habits. The population of Malaysia is composed of Malays 69.4%, Chinese 23.2%, Indians 6.7%, and other races 0.7%. Most of the local people believe in Islam, and their usual dress is more traditional. Therefore, in public universities in Malaysia, such as UKM, no matter in public or in class, you should not wear shorts, short skirts, sleeveless or low-necked tops. For both men and women, it is best to wear a collared top, long pants and shoes that cover all toes.

(The dress code on the UKM campus. Photo source: UKMshape.)

Therefore, international students who have just entered Malaysia and entered the campus may not understand the local cultural traditions, and enter the campus wearing short-sleeved shorts or short skirts in hot weather. In response to this phenomenon, one of the lecturer of FEP, Associate Professor Dr. Siti Faridah, forwarded the reminder message in the WhatsApp discussion group of the class to remind students to abide by university rules and disciplines and respect other cultures.

(Photo by Yu Zhicheng. The photo used in this news have been authorized for use.)

"On campus, I sometimes see some international students wearing illegal clothing." Ding Ruijia, an undergraduate student from Faculty of Economics and Management (FEP), said. "I saw some girls wearing miniskirts at school, and some boys wearing knee shorts and slippers. These are not allowed in the school, and it is also an act of disrespecting the Malaysian national culture, so our professors will give us The students of the college sent emails to remind us, and hope that through this time, everyone can know this, and jointly create a good campus atmosphere and an image of international students who respect other cultures."

"Through my own negligence, I felt it was my fault." FEP student Wu Hanlin said. "As I had recently arrived in Malaysia and didn't know the culture well, and I had never experienced such hot weather, I thought it was normal to wear short-sleeved shorts, but when I received the email, I knew I was wrong. I hope you can take this as a warning."

Dr. Siti Faridah highlighted the importance of appropriate attire in an academic setting, said: “Dressing properly on campus is not just about following the rules. It shows respect for yourself, your fellow students and the cultural and educational process of your country. Respect. It sets the stage for a focused and productive learning environment.”

The clothing worn by individuals in Muslim countries has profound meaning and reflects their religious beliefs, cultural heritage and values. This feature reveals the importance of understanding and appreciating the unique dress customs of Muslim countries, emphasizing the importance of modesty and protecting cultural identity. And as an international student, in a world that celebrates diversity, it is vital to recognize and respect the cultural customs and traditions of different societies.

In an interconnected world, the importance of respecting other cultures cannot be overemphasized. By embracing cultural respect, we promote empathy, understanding and tolerance. Building bridges between cultures enhances our collective knowledge, strengthens social cohesion, and paves the way for a more harmonious global society.

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