World Lit.
“Malaysia Boleh”
“Malaysia boleh” means “Malaysia can,” and in carrying out my dialogue project, I have discovered just how much meaning this expression contains. I began conversing with local Malaysian, Brian, as a person who knew next to nothing about the country. However, through his perspective as well as mine, I have been able to capture an inspiring image of the nation. In examining the information on the culture of Malaysia that Brian has shared with me, I have found that Malaysia is a country of capability. Malaysia shows symbols of change and progress, enthusiasm and ambition, and diversity and brotherhood.
First, the saying “Malaysia boleh!” expresses an attitude of optimism and determination. According to Brian, the saying is very popular in Malaysia and can be used in a variety of contexts. Translated to something along the lines of “Malaysia CAN!” it equates roughly in English to an expression like “Yes, we can!” though with a more nationalistic meaning. For example, “Malaysia boleh” is often used as a battle cry for the Malaysian people when there is an athletic competition of some sort between Malaysia and a foreign country. The people can commonly be heard screaming MALAYSIA BOLEH! The expression “Malaysia boleh” not only reveals a resolve to conquer challenges, but also serves to unify the people under one resounding chant.
The iconic symbol of the Petronas Twin Towers also communicates the competitive disposition of Malaysia as well as an ambition to improve. The Petronas Twin Towers is the tallest building in Malaysia and also was once the tallest building in the world, before the completion of Taipei 101 in 2004. Brian chose the Petronas Twin Towers as the signature symbol of his country. The Twin Towers serves as inspiration for Malaysians, because it is a symbol of Malaysia’s growing modernity and how far they have come. As one of the tallest buildings in the world, it is certainly a significant accomplishment and a great object of pride for Malaysians. Brian made it clear to me that “Petronas” is the name of a gas company like the American “Shell,” but solely Malaysian. There is obviously a strong feeling of nationalism in Malaysia, and coupled with the determination of “Malaysia boleh,” Malaysia is more than capable of improving their country.
The positive energy shared in “Malaysia boleh” and the ability to change seen in the Petronas Twin Towers also makes itself evident, along with an aura of friendliness, in the song Brian chose to share with me, “Rasa Sayang.” Rasa Sayang, originally a folk song, is a simple and catchy tune that exudes a happy and carefree feeling. Rasa Sayang means, “I feel love,” more specifically, a love felt between new friends and friends parting. Rasa Sayang is a children’s song and according to Brian, 95% of Malaysians probably know it, as they all grew up singing it. It is also currently used in an advertisement for tourism. The song is very flexible; the only part that doesn’t change is the melody and the chorus. Otherwise, the verses can be written in any way that one wishes, as long as they’re quatrains. The song can also be sung in different languages, as there are around five different main languages spoken in Malaysia. Rasa Sayang emphasizes Malaysia’s adaptability and capability to change, as well as reveals its more simple virtues of brotherhood.
From Brian’s voice of youth, Malaysia seems to be a country with great momentum. Its ambition, enthusiasm, unification, and mutability offer a powerful force in the country’s future. Malaysia is on the rise, and the judgment is: Malaysia Boleh!
Malaysia is a country of great diversity, with several religions, languages, and ethnicities. Malaysia’s capacity for change and strong bonds between its various people provides an example to follow for a world of increased globalization, where tolerance and societal improvement need to work in harmony. This model is Malaysia’s gift to the world.

  1. Basic Geography
  2. The Project Partners
  3. Petronas Twin Towers
  4. Mount Kinabalu
  5. Malaysia Boleh!
  6. Rasa Sayang
  7. Dialogue Project Paper
  8. Project Extension-Rasa Sayang
  9. I Believe... Paper
  10. Bibliography