With Merdeka Day just around the corner, it’s time to celebrate all the quirky things we love about being a Malaysian. History (Astro Ch 555) has compiled some of that quirkiness in its one-hour special 10 Things We Love About Malaysians, which premieres Aug 28 at 10pm.

It is hosted by Douglas Lim, who talks to experts and Malaysians on what makes us so unique and behave the way that we do. Lim described the show as a retrospective light-hearted programme where we can laugh together at what sets Malaysians apart from the rest of the world.

You know, like our mixture of English and Bahasa that has become known as Manglish. Or that peculiar and maddening concept of punctuality, “Malaysian time”.

“We are who we are. Can’t change that,” Lim said with a laugh during the press conference held to launch the show.

Lim shared that he and the producers collaborated on the script and the list as well. The team went through several brainstorming sessions to make sure the list consisted of items that were truly unique.

Lim explained: “The whole thing about Malaysia being multicultural – these days, almost all countries are not homogenous anymore. So to be constantly chest-thumping about being multicultural, to be united in our differences, let’s get over that. What else? We needed to identify other things that made Malaysians interesting. Food? Come on! Every country is proud of their food, even those with bad food. That was the biggest challenge. While Malaysians would love everything we came up with, because it’s about us, would other countries find us interesting?”


Lim and Harith Iskander demonstrating different gestures Malaysians use.

Lim has celebrity guests like Reshmonu and Harith Iskander on the show for the extra colour. During the show, Lim also gives his two sen worth – or “observational commentary” as he termed it – to ensure that some facts do not rub the audience the wrong way, citing “Malaysian time” as an example.

“We talk about Malaysian timing, but what it is actually is a lack of professionalism. You are being irresponsible, which is something very heavy. So my job is to temper that. Then we have a panel of experts come in to reinterpret the concept of time for a country like Malaysia where we view time as a more stre-e-e-tchy concept.”

However, some topics are no laughing matter, like inconsiderate Malaysian drivers.

“The thing about traffic … there is really no positive way to spin it. We behave like Third World citizens when we get in a car, and behind the wheel: We park anywhere we like. I can understand there are places where you can behave that way, but you are not supposed to do things like that. There is a collective responsibility and rules in place. So we’re actually breaking laws. Motorbike riders putting their handphones in the helmet … ‘hey, that’s cute,’ but they are criminals!”

The show is fast-paced enough that there is no dwelling on one thing too long – be it the good, the bad or the ugly part of being Malaysians.

Lim’s own favourite item on the list is: “People doing charity work on their own without much governmental support or patrons. There are times when Malaysians just band together for a good purpose – in response to a disaster, or just going out and giving food to the homeless.”

He concluded: “At the end of the day, it’s a feel-good show. And we accept certain things are the way they are, that’s just us.”

10 Things We Love About Malaysians is one of three one-hour specials featured under History Asia’s Negaraku Specials, on Sunday at 10pm.

On Sept 4, check out Road To Nationhood which highlights the events behind the formation of our country, featuring previously unseen footage as well as stories of our political leaders in their struggles to achieve independence.

Every Street Tells A Story (Sept 11) has host Umapagan Ampikaipakan walking through a number of famous streets of Kuala Lumpur like Jalan Tun Perak, Jalan Raja and Jalan Pudu, learning their histories.

At the same press conference, Umapagan said: “It was eye-opening for me and I think it will be eye-opening for viewers as well. We traverse these streets every day but we know next to nothing about them. So in the show, I talk about the origins of these streets and more importantly, I talk to the people who live and work and spend all of their lives on these streets. This would be a new side of KL, I guarantee it, to a lot of you.”