“Unity and Social Cohesion in Malaysia- is it possible?”

Although Malaysia is a multicultural society, the government didn´t manage it to create unity between the three races since Malaysia´s independency in 1957.

50,4% of the Malaysians are Malays, 23,7 %Chinese, 11 % indigenous people (Orang Asli und Dayak), 7,1 % Indians and 7,8 % of the population belong to other ethnicities.

One example of racism is the program “Bumiputera”. After the bloody revolts in 1969 the government introduced a new economy policy. In form of a “positive discrimination law” the inner peace should be restored. One reason for the revolt was the economic dominance of the Chinese- Malaysians: 33% of the Chinese- Malaysians controlled 90% of the economy during that time. One campaign of the “positive discrimination law” has been Bumiputera, which is valid in every area of public life, e.g. jobs, scholarships or purchase of land. Bumiputera (=son of the earth) is including the ethnicities which are seen as natives. These are particularly Malays- who are actually from Indonesia- and Orang Aslis.  The use of Bumiputera  shows clearly that ethnicity is more important than qualification.

Same same but different-la?
Same same but different-la?

Furthermore ethnicities are divided by the government. One example is the school system: Most of the schools are separated by ethnicities. Education takes place in the official language Bahasa Melayu, no matter if it´s a Chinese, Indian or Malay school.

But it´s not all about school education. Racism finds its way until the political level: The post of the Prime Minister or Minister can only be taken over by a Malay.

Even in privacy the different ethnicities seldom mingle around. Marriages mostly take place within one race.


Malaysia is a theocratic state: While there´s a normal judicial system for the non- Muslims, there´s sharia law for the Malays. A sharia police controls the adherence of Islamic rules. Who infringes, gets punished. Malays are born into Islam and can´t convert or resign. This includes that it´s difficult for Malays to have a successful relationship with a non- Muslim partner. A religious- mixed marriage is illegal. The partner has to convert to Islam to marry his/her beloved one. You can imagine that this causes problems if the family of one side or the partner are strict religious.




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