“In the contemporary milieu, it is the freedom, vibrancy and comparative anonymity found in metropolitan centres where individuals often find the courage to push the boundaries of conventional social behaviour and racialised interpersonal relations if they so choose,” he said in an e-mail interview.
Sociologist Dr Hew Cheng Sim, an associate professor at the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, said with urban millennials in particular will “certainly be more liberal and exposed to a wider world view” than the generation before them because they were brought up with the presence of the Internet.
But is that image of self indulgence and casual relationships deserved?
Although there is technically an exemption for men who can demonstrate that they are members of the other Abrahamic faiths, such as Christianity and Judaism, this is rarely enough applied to be non-existent.
“With a certain religion in Malaysia, because of the laws, it’s a bit hard to have a relationship with someone from a different religion,” Gary George, 29, said without specifically naming Islam.
According to the Statistics Department, women in 1970 got married at the average age of 21.2, which dropped to 19.4 years old a decade later.
The figures for men were not available for this period.
When asked about being in a relationship, 45 per cent said it “happens only if it’s at the right time” while a third said it “something that needs to be given a lot of consideration”; only 15 per cent said it is the natural course in life.
Sex before marriage, a taboo especially in an Asian country such as Malaysia, did not seem to stop them from indulging, with almost 40 per cent saying they have engaged in it Twenty-eight per cent also said they have had casual sexual flings, while more than one in five said they have had one-night stands.
Attitudes towards premarital sex were also relaxed, with 85 per cent saying it was not necessary to wait until marriage to have sex.
Despite their casual approach to sex, however, millennials picked loyalty and intelligence as the two most important traits in their partners, over looks and wealth.
When it comes to dating, these 18 to 32-year-olds said it is “less formal, less obligations, less expectations and less familial pressure” compared to previous generations.