Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Ethnicity and Race System in Malaysia

Race was originally a concept borrowed from biology. Borrowed from plants and animals, and applied to humans (as a concept for classifying people), even though there were few biological reasons to do so. A race - a group of human beings socially defined on the basis of physical characteristics. Race and ethnicity are linked, but should not be confused. Ethnicity refers to perceived common ancestry in a place or event. Malaysia is a multi-ethnic society, consisting of 65% Malays and other indigenous tribes, 25% Chinese, and 7% Indians.
The Malays are traditionally classified as a member of the Mongoloid race, along with other Asiatic peoples. Bumiputera (literally means 'princes of the Earth') is an official definition widely used in Malaysia, embracing ethnic Malays, as well as other indigenous ethnic groups. In Malaysia, by convention, it is generally considered that all Malays are Bumiputeras and that all Bumiputeras are Malay. And the definition of Bumiputera clearly excludes ethnic Chinese and non-Muslim Indians.
In Malaysia (also Southeast Asia), the term used commonly by oversea Chinese is huaren. Many of the non-Malays (Chinese and also Indians) at that time were first and second generation migrants who had been invited by the British to fill colonial labour needs. The Malays were facing a situation - a socio-economic imbalance. The 1969 racial riots paved way for the pro-Malay policies - preferential treatment of Bumiputeras versus other races built into the Malaysian Constitution to safeguard the special position of Malays. Bumiputeras is given special rights as written in the constitution. Policies include quotas for the following : admission to government educational institutions, qualification for public scholarships, positions in government and ownership in business, and etc.
Last year, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi implied that the 30-plus years of generous affirmative action has not made Malays the competitive race the long-ruling Mahathir Mohammad had envisaged they would be by now. On the other hand, despite challenges of ethnicity, Malaysia has experienced some rapid economic growth.
Since the 1969 racial riots, Malaysia has been generally free of any ethnic tension (unlike the many outbreaks of ethnic violence in Indonesia during recent years). The Government has in a certain way managed ethnic relations to minimize conflicts and tensions.
Are we working towards a change for a better Malaysia ?
Fifty years ago, this site was occupied by a wet market. But today, Central Market has transformed itself into a centre for cultural performances and traditional crafts. Some sort of an ethnic market - a combination of chinese, malay and indian business.


Lee Ai Ling said...

I don't think that central market is tht good anymore. I brought my friend there and she didn't buy anything. Horribly overpriced and nothing really malaysian there.

Anonymous said...

correction to your writing
I think Malay is Bumiputera but not all Bumiputeras are Malay

Acrix said...

Well the Bumiputera can't be protected forever and it;s time for them to wake up i suppose :P They will never be competitive enough if they are under such privileges~ Bout the central market, i've seen samurai sword being sold there last time :P

fish fish said...

Woops... a serious post. Just drop by to ask you how you are doing. Happy new year! ^_^