In a multi-racial country like Malaysia, the need to create a national cul-ture is not only for projecting a cultural identity overseas, but more im-portantly because its very validity as a national entity depends a great dealon the cultural unity among its various communities, comprising Bumipu-tras, Chinese and Indians. Towards this end a National Cultural Congresswas convened in August 1971 that gave birth to three principles for theformulation of the national culture; firstly, that the Malaysian national cul-ture shall be based on the indigenous culture of the region; secondly, thatelements from other culture which are suitable and appropriate may be ac-cepted as elements of the national culture; and thirdly, that Islam shall be animportant factor In the formation of the culture.Since architecture is one of the most inportant manifestation of the cultureitself, it is only natural that the three principles become the guidelines forthe efforts to evolve the architecture with a national idenity. These effortsbecome all the more necessary because of the two-way relationship betweenman and his environment.The paper first looks into the development of architecture in Malaysia dur-ing the last two decades. The overall picture is that of confusion. Most Ma-laysian towns and cities have been filled with buildings that are out of con-text, unsultale for tropical climate, wasteful in the use of energies,expensive to maintain and alien to the local way of life. In the meantime some attempts have been made to incorporate Malay vernacular features inthe design of public buildings with various degrees of success. There is atendency to over emphasize the physical form in the expression of identitywithout giving due respect to other aspects such as human activities.An analysis will be made in relation to the role of government and its agen-cies, the idiosyncrasy of the clients as well as the attitude and background ofthe architects. The majority of architects currently practising in Malaysiawere trained overseas. Having been influenced by the modernist and post-modernist movements they are no longer appreciative to vernacular and re-gional characteristics. It seems in the long run the only way to realize theaspiration of the nation is to rely on home grown architects who understandlocal environment, climate, materials and techniques and respect the cultu-ral heritage of the country.