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This is the right way to honk the car horn in Malaysia

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Photo from loop_oh/Flickr under Creative Common License

A few days ago, I was driving on my way to rehearsals when a car swerved in front of me. Both of us weren’t going very fast. The driver wasn’t trying to get into my lane, I think he just lost control of his steering wheel without really noticing it. So, I did the natural thing – I honked my car horn.

Now, I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I always thought that the horn was to be used in circumstances like this. You know, to help prevent accidents and the likes. But obviously, the man who was driving – an old man in his 60s maybe with his wife (or girlfriend, oh alright, or sister) in the passenger seat – didn’t think so.

As I drove past, I looked into his car to see if he was, you know, maybe taking part in the very Malaysian habit of texting while he was driving or maybe he was on the phone distracted. He wasn’t. Instead, I saw two old people – a man and a woman – raising their arms angrily at me for, and I can only assume this, er, honking at them.

Well, I’m sorry. I really thought that I was using the horn correctly but I must have been wrong. So I came home, prayed to the gods of honks and asked for enlightenment. This is my epiphany:

1. Honk when you’re late

The best thing to do when you’re in a rush is to just, well, honk. As you zoom through the streets at an unsafe speed, and SMS your friend/boss/partner that you’re “On the way”, just keep blaring the honk so that people will think that there’s an emergency and move out of your way.

2. Honk at a pedestrian

Photo from

You’re driving through a road and as you approach one of the few zebra crossing that still exist in a country, *shock*horror* someone is actually crossing the road. Since it is indeed your grandfather’s road, you honk so that the person would jump back on the curb and wait. After all, you’re in a car and anyone who doesn’t own one should, well, make way for you.

Picture credit: superciliousness/Flickr under Creative Common License

3. Honk when you’re tailgating

Why would someone drive only 90km/h on a 90km/h stretch? So you get really close but the stupid fella in the car still doesn’t get it that he or she is supposed to move. So you flash your headlights *hint*hint* Still, nothing. So what do you do? Honk. Get out of my way, you idiot.

4a. Honk to wake up a whole neighbourhood

Doesn’t matter if its 2pm, 7.45am or midnight. The world obviously revolves around you so when you drive up to your friends home, you just honk a few times so that he or she knows you’ve arrived. Never mind that doorbells exist – oh, what’s that? You’ve never heard of one?

4b. Honk to wake up the whole neighbourhood – Part 2

Your neighbours must obviously love you very much. After all, they would like to know exactly when you’re home. That is why you choose to drive up to your gate (an electric gate, mind you) and honk till the cows come home so that your maid in the back kitchen or garden can run all the way out to open the gate for you. What kindness.

5. Honk when you’re pissed off

Did a driver upset you? Did he or she not see the birdie you flipped? Well, share your love. Just drive behind the person and keep honking. Yeah, this is a sure way to humiliate the other person either from behind his/her car, or as you’re overtaking it with a vengeance. Everyone would think that you’re the best thing since, um, sliced bread.

I am so glad that I can finally discovered the true uses of the honk. That said, I was searching around the net to see how it is used in other parts of the world. Apparently, it’s used as a communication tool and you honk when you’re trying to send a message.

Try some of these for size:

Photo from

This photo, taken by thewind/Flickr, is for all you people feeling invisible out there. Don’t think you’re getting enough attention? Honking might help!

Photo from

This is a sure way to find your match! Just honk if you’re single, suggests Yahoo! Personals in this picture taken from thomashawk/Flickr. Let me know if this works for you! If it does, I might have the perfect solution to being a dating guru! Or even better – a love guru.

Photo from

This picture, by bagels/Flickr, really says it all. Although, it does go against my epiphany. I am not sure if honking should be used as a tool to promote hate. Got to think about this one again.

Photo from

Well, this would explain why everyone in KL loves the honk so much. Maybe we’re just sexually repressed.

Picture (and all others above used under Creative Common License) by slimjim/Flickr.

9.06am Malaysian time (+8 GMT)
Disclaimer: Er, this post is obviously laced with sarcasm. I hope you noticed it.


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Kay Rita

I am very amused by this article…


haha.. very nice..
you wrote this yourself?
i rarely honk people, except when they’re doing something wrong, like turning into my lane when i’m going fast..

on the other hand, i get honked many times too.. for being slow.. =P


Kay Rita: I hope that means you enjoyed it! 🙂

KenWooi: Yes I did! I was a bit fed up when I got honked that day, so I thought it warranted a post. But then suddenly, humour got the best of me 🙂


Go to India and experience the ever Honking behavior. Its an offense to honk here in Malaysia and during my trip to US, I was told not to honk. You may even get shot for doing so.

But the driver’s attitude in US is far more civilized compare to Malaysian drivers. ok ok Don’t go too far, thailand and even India are better. India’s population and with millions of of cars, bikes and other vehicles on the road but they still behave in more civilized manner.

Malaysian drivers need to learn to behave and to be patient and I believe the number of accidents and death due to it will reduce.


Hey Niki and others, do you think there will be a solution to this stressful experience driving in Malaysia? Is there a way to educate people on good mannerism? Overall I think we Malaysian behave rudely. Just try to take some express buses, the drivers will be very “pleasant” to you.
Below is some of the rudeness being so prevalent at least in my eyes.

1) Queue jumping (Whether driving, buying tickets or even buying food) –> Selfish, totally hate them.
– I went to Pesta Pulau Pinang, and I queued to buy tokens. Mind you it was like 5 people in front of me. When my turn came, these 3 idiots (3 stooges) just came from side, over took my position and bought the tickets. Disgusted and angry. But with my 3 year old niece next to me, argument was the last thing in my mind.
2) Rude customer service officers
3) Someone in authority being so rude when you approach them.
4) Patrons in restaurants being so rude to waiter/waitress.
I think everyone will have the list… it goes on and on. I wonder if Malaysians will ever be courteous..

Hey Niki, thanks for sharing the article.

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