Due to the increasing traffic of expatriates to Malaysia, foreigners have formed associations to create a homely environment for fellow countrymen in formal and informal scenarios.
British, American and Australian expatriates are the predominantly largest foreign nationality groups in Malaysia. All have growing associations that serves the members with various services, activities, information and monthly newsletters and magazines with the latest updates of what’s going on in Malaysia.
A majority of the associations have other foreign nationalities as members including locals who are permitted to join as members.
The American Association of Malaysia (AAM) has 300 member families of which 40% are of other nationalities including locals. They have a ‘Buddy System’, where expats that stayed longer assist new arrivals to adapt to the environment. Magazines such as “Selamat Datang”, “A to Z”, and “KL American” are published by AAM as key information sources for its members.
Associations such as the British Women’s Association of Malaysia (ABWM) even appoint specific volunteers to welcome newcomers so that the transition to Malaysia is as smooth as possible. Other main expatriate associations include, the Canadian Association of Malaysia (CAM) and Malaysian Australian New Zealand Association (MANZA). Annual MANZA events are The MANZA Ball, ANZAC Day Golf & BBQ Dinner, Melbourne Cup Luncheon and MANZA Cup.
Since most of the expatriates live in Penang or Kuala Lumpur, a lot of the associations are located in these areas. As part of their corporate responsibility, these associations endeavor to give back to Malaysia, the host country, in the form of charity drives and community services. The associations have one or more charities in the local community where they raise funds for and support.
The expatriate associations are usually run by spouses of working expatriates as many are not allowed employment. However, they may have a professional background and are highly educated.
A lot of the associations charge a nominal membership fee and fees for events to pay for costs of maintaining offices and fixed overheads. Members join expatriate associations to feel at home at the host country.