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Racial Discrimination in Employment Between Malays and Non-Malays Essay

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Bahasa, raja dan agama (language, ruler and religion) are what people call the three pillars of Malayness in an attempt to preserve and classify who are the real “people” in a country like Malaysia where generations of other ethnicities have been living. Opportunities for employment and living are amass at Malaysia as it is one of the rising nations in Southeast Asia, however, the country is not as friendly to the “non-Malays” as they seem.

The first major laws made for Malay opportunity preservation was the Malay Reservation Enactment way back in 1913 which allowed the Malay to declare certain areas as “Malay Reservations” which prohibited non-Malays for owning or even leasing the said land.

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This law has undergone several revisions to allow certain circumstances or people who are non-Malay to have access but the sense of putting the Malay first is still present.

In 1971, Malaysia’s second Prime Minister Abdul Razak enacted the New Economic Policy (NEP) which was later replaced by Mahathir Mohammad’s New Development Policy (NDP) which embodied the ideals which was in his famous book, “Malay Dilemma”.

Mahathir Mohamad had even coined the term ‘affirmative action’ which represented the favoring for Malays for the welfare of the country. (Quah, 2010, April 14) Last March 2010, Prime Minister Najib Razak was under fire for trying to change the NDP into the New Economic Model (NEM) which aimed to lessen the pro-Malay economic policies that were currently in effect to favor more private-public partnerships.

With the proposed change on such a long-standing policy, it should be observed as to whether these policies present really are too much that they are already discriminatory to the other non-Malay citizens of Malaysia who has also helped with the country’s economy. Ketuanan Malayu or translated as Malay Domination is the key concept that most politicians like Mahathir have cited in the past which go to favor the Bumiputeras or the native Malays.

The NEP was a program designed to decrease poverty regardless of race by favoring the Malays but the non-Malays didn’t seem to view it that way. (Horowitz, 2003) The biggest known event which resulted from the discrimination of the non-Malay was the world-famous May 13 race riot back in 1971 which killed hundreds of people mostly in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia, at that time, was home to about 40% non-Malays, a majority of which were Chinese.

The program, however, proves to be a success for a time as the (Quah, 2010, April 14) Business Times reports that poverty rates for Bumiputeras declined from 65 per cent in 1970 to 5 per cent in 2007, while that for Malaysians overall, from 49 per cent to 4 per cent; Chinese, 26 per cent to 1 per cent; Indians, 39 per cent to 2 per cent. The state of the non-Malays, however, have become worse as time had passed as the government unlike stated in the NEP is not equalizing the battlefield but pushing the non-Malays to the disadvantaged side.

Current state (Quah, 2010, April 14) An annual survey conducted by the Malaysian Business magazine showed the names of the top 10 richest people in Malaysia namely: Mr Robert Kuok Hock Nien ,Mr Tatparanandam, Ananda Krishnan, Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng, Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow, Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan, Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, Puan Sri Lee Kim Hua, Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King, Tan Sri Vincent and Tan Chee Yioun. 8 out of 10 of the richest people in Malaysia were Chinese.

These might seem to indicate that the non-Malays have nothing to worry about as a majority of their race dominated the richest people but the case was different with the middle class and other non-Malays like the Indians who had comprised about 10% of the population. There are never any officially published statistics as to the discrimination that the other ethnic groups undergo as the government has already been under fire enough for their pro-Malay economic policies. International critics even claim that even though they have a pronounced low percentage of poverty at around 5%, their poverty line is set very low.

The explanation for their evident economic rise is the success of the NEP program which had raised the Malays from back in the (Abdullah, July 1997) 1970’s from poverty as before these programs were implemented, the non-Malays were evidently much well-off than them. This rise of the Malay, however, has cost the non-Malays much and has made it very hard for them to retain the incomes they used to get in the 70’s. There was also a hit back in July 2011 by a certain Teddy Diellenberg who was working for the government which leaked an estimated ratio and proportion of what the non-Malays were getting. Diellenberg, 2006) It had showed disturbing statistics which included the ff: ?0% of non-Malay staff are legally required in Malay companies. But there must be 30% Malay staffs in Chinese companies. ?5% of all new intake for government police, nurses, army, are non-Malays. ? 7% is the percentage of Chinese government servants in the entire government (in 2004); a drop from 30% in 1960. ?2. 5% is government budget for Chinese primary schools. Indian schools got only 1%, Malay schools got 96. 5%. ?0 – elimination of all forms of racial discrimination (UN Human Rights) has not been ratified by Malaysian government since 1960s.

Considering that the estimate of the Malaysian population now is 60% Malay with 40% non-Malay then these statistics ring of foul discrimination and some of which are even supported by the law under the affirmative action policies. The federal electorate back then during the 1960s before any affirmative action laws were passed was around (Abdullah, July 1997) 85% Malays to 15% non-Malays which makes it easier to explain why a larger proportion of the Malays were poor as they had comprised such a big majority in the country.

In the current state where there are still more poor Malays but the non-Malays are already close to them, then that means that there was a raise of income for the Malays but stagnant or decreasing income for the non-Malays. Conclusion The affirmative action policies which generally include all pro-Malay economic movements have proved to be a success as Malaysia is now considered to be one of the five rising nations in Southeast Asia but it seems that this growth has been one-sided.

Statistics show that this increase in the country’s wealth was because the majority, the Malays, have been rising up from poverty but the minority who had stayed in the middle class are now having a hard time staying there and it is only mostly the Chinese businessmen who had controlled their respective niches since back then that continue to fare well. The Indian rubber factory workers are now on the poverty line as well as other Chinese who are into labor.

The Malaysian government currently headed by Najib Razak is now trying to equal the field for real by reducing the Malay privileges as to be able to say that they have completely risen from poverty; that Malaysia as a whole and not only the Malays in the country have completely risen from poverty and are currently headed to becoming one of the high-income countries.


Abdullah, F. (July 1997). Affirmative Action Policy in Malaysia: To Restructure Society, to Eradicate Poverty. Ethnic Studies Report , 190-221. Diellenberg, T. (2006, March 29). worldpress. org. Retrieved October 21, 2011, from http://www. orldpress. org/2298. cfm Hailiza, A. O. (n. d. ). Malay Reservation: A Malay Dilemma. 24. Hassan, Z. (2010, April 30). Chinese Malaysians asking for too much. Straits Times. Horowitz, D. (2003). The Deadly Ethnic Riot. University of California Press. Lee, J. (2011, February). Malaysian Dilemma: The Enduring Cancer of Affirmative Action. Foreign Policy Analysis , pp. 1-20. Quah, D. (2010, April 14). Malaysia’s new economic model: Making choices. Business Times. Shamsul, A. (October 2001). A History of an Identity, an Identity of a History:. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies , 355-366.

Cite this Racial Discrimination in Employment Between Malays and Non-Malays Essay

Racial Discrimination in Employment Between Malays and Non-Malays Essay. (2017, Feb 02). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/racial-discrimination-in-employment-between-malays-and-non-malays

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