Two types of passive in Malay are compared using corpora examples, the dipassive and the kena adversative passive. It is proposed that the latter is constrained by pragmatic specifications related to the contexts in which it appears. In one analysis, 50 instances of each of these two passives collected from two newspapers were compared as to their frequency, degree of transitivity, and two pragmatic functions: their connotations and their register. The results show that the kena adversative passive is lower in frequency, higher in transitivity, less formal in register, and that it has a negative connotation for recipients of the actions when compared with the dipassive. In a second analysis, an additional 100 examples of the kena adversative passive were collected (50 from classical Malay manuscripts and 50 from Internet sources) and compared with the instances from newspaper articles. The results show that the kena passives from all three sources reflect similar features of transitivity and pragmatic use in discourse. Some of the kena instances from the Internet display more colloquial usage than those from the other sources, manifest, for example, by simplified spellings in kena phrases and by the frequent occurrence of code-switching whereby an English past participle form is used following kena (as in kena caught).