Racial Discrimination in Employment Between Malays and Non-Malays

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Racial discrimination in employment between Malays and non-Malays

Previous History of Discrimination

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. 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...
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