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Affirmative Action in Malaysia

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Foong Jin Ng

on 5 December 2013

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Transcript of Affirmative Action in Malaysia

Affirmative Action: A Malaysian Narrative
Facts & Figures
Population: 28, 334, 135
Introduction of
Affirmative Action
Impact of
Affirmative Action
Ongoing Debate
Brief History
- colonised by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. Occupied by
the Japanese during WWII
Race & Politics
& Indigenous - 67.4%
Chinese - 24.6%
Indian - 7.3%
Others - 0.7%
Islam - 61.3%
Buddhism - 19.8%
Christianity - 9.2%
Hinduism - 6.3%
Confucianism & related - 1.3%
Unknown - 1%
No religion - 0.7 %
(source: Population and Housing Census, 2010)
- immigration of Chinese and Indian migrants in 19th century by British colonisers due to discovery of tin and demand for tires from automobile industry
New Economic Policy
& Beyond
Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Agenda
- 31 August 1957 (Independence Day): Federation of Malaya (11 states) obtained independence.
- Federal constitutional monarchy
- 13 states, 3 federal territories
Hidden Costs
- 16 Sept 1963 (Malaysia Day): Malaysia was formed - comprised of Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak
- 9 August 1965: Singapore became an independent republic.
- colonial policy of division of labour according to ethnic lines, little to no opportunity for interaction between the races to prevent mass uprising:
Malays: agriculture and source of rice
Indians: rubber plantations
Chinese: mining, manufacturing and commercial industries
- Politics in Malaysia is divided along racial lines.
- The United Malays National Organisation and the Malaysian Indian Congress - formed in 1946. The Malaysian Chinese Association - formed in 1949. Together, they formed the Alliance party which won in the first election held in 1955.
- Memorandum by Alliance party for future Constitution - compromise: Non-Malay citizenship in return for
retention of Malay privilege
- commonly called "social contract"
- Racial riots:
1964 racial riots in Singapore in July & Sept - Chinese & Malay - caused increased racial tensions - Federal Govt expelled Singapore which consisted 3/4 Chinese
13 May 1969 in KL - Malay / Chinese - worst racial riot in history - official figures: 196 killed, but disputed - estimated up to 10 times more - 3/4 of casualties were Chinese
8 - 12 March 2001 in Kampung Medan - Malay / Indian - 6 killed,
> 40 injured, > 180 arrested
- introduced 14 Sept 2013 in return for support by
Malays & indigenous people during 13th GE in May 2013 -
"Malay & Bumiputera at the core of National Agenda"
- 5 main focus:
Enable bumiputera human capital
Strengthening bumiputera equity ownership in corporate sector
Strengthening bumiputera non-financial assets
Enhancing bumiputera entrepreneurship and commerce
Strengthening the service delivery ecosystem
- other initiatives:
Increase the intake of students into Universiti Teknologi MARA to
250,000 by 2020 - setting up of several new campuses nationwide;
Establishment of a RM1 billion MARA Education Fund
TERAJU - placed directly under the PM's Department
National Entrepreneurship Institute and the scheme to develop
new Bumiputera entrepreneurs would be placed under TERAJU
Bumiputera Economic Council (MEB) will be set up -
chaired by PM, member including DPM and
relevant ministers.
- no sunset clause - see quote
- Introduced as a result of 13 May riots - official White
Paper on the riot singled out Malay economic grievances
as one of the key factors

- Malay rights recognised during British rule - enshrined in
Federation of Malaya Agreement 1948 - 4 main areas:
Malay reservation land
quotas in public service
- Incorporated in the Federal Constitution as Article 153 - However, Reid Commission recommended special privileges to be reviewed after 15 years of independence - c/f Govt Working Party's view: reviewed from time to time with no limitation.
- Insignificant impact:
Education - enrolment in the University of Malaya in 1966/1967 of Malays was 30% - mostly Arts faculty - Engineering (2%), Science (7%), Medicine (6%)
Wealth - Malays held only 2.4% of total equity ownership (1970). Chinese & Indians = 32.3%. Foreign interests = 63.6%
quotas for business licences and permits
quotas for public scholarship and educational grant
- Implementation period: 1971 - 1990
- 2 objectives: (1) poverty eradication regardless of race
(2) restructure society to remove identification of race and economic function
- After 1990: National Development Policy (1991-2000);
National Vision Policy ( 2001-2010);
National Transformation Policy (2010 to current)

- Vision: by 1990, 30% of economy owned and managed by bumiputeras; employment to reflect racial composition
- Implementation methods:
(1) equity - 30% quota on new equity for Bumiputeras
(2) restructuring - companies encouraged to restructure ownership and employment
(3) Bumiputera commercial and industrial community - quotas,
price discrimination, loans, subsidised training programmes
(4) privatisation policies - 30% quota implemented
(5) tertiary education - quotas for enrolment in specific
disciplines - 55% reservations for bumiputera
- 1973 - National Front (current ruling party) formed -
been in power since independence
- Bumiputera monthly average household income: increased from RM172 (1970s) to RM4,457 (2012) / almost 2,500%
- Bumiputera poverty rate: 64.8% (1970s) to 2.2% (2012) - note adjustments to poverty line
- Bumiputera corporate company equity rate: 2.4% (1970s) to 23.5% (2011)
- Income disparity - Malay: Chinese - 1:2.29 (1970) - 1:1.38 (2009)
- Rise of Malay middle class: 4% (1970) - 16.7% (2000)
- reverse-reverse discrimination / prejudice in private sector - 2011 study: a Malay fresh graduate was 16.7% less likely to be called up for a job interview in the private sector compared to their Chinese counterparts.
- Domestic private tertiary education boomed - removal of quota in 2002 - introduced Matriculation as alternative pre-U - 10% for non-Malays
- Employment: Dependence on civil service - 2005: Tertiary educated Malays -
58% overall - concentrated in civil service - top management (83.9%); management and professional (81.6%); support staff (75.8%) - ethnic
- brain drain: estimated 5% of skilled locals exiting annually
- Nov 2013: PM defended necessity for AA for stability
- Zaid Ibrahim (former minister and senator) - "Now
preferential policies for the Malays are deemed as a right. It has become a huge political gimmick where the Malays are regularly told that if they want these special rights and privileges to continue, they have to vote for UMNO."
- Chancellor of University Teknologi MARA announced university is not a place for non-Malays.
- Dr Kua Kia Soong (activist & educator) - "[NEP] encouraged disunity among Malaysians who see themselves not as one nation but as members of various ethnic groups that live in Malaysia.
- entrenchment of racial stereotype
- World Bank (2011) report: 20% Malaysian graduates choose to leave country - preferrred destination: Singapore - 60% skilled emigrants cited "social injustice"
- Lee Kuan Yew, in "One Man's View of the World" - "“They are prepared to lose that talent in order to maintain the dominance of one race."
- institutionalised racism? - "Malay first, Malaysian second" - race as scapegoat
- Mahathir (2002) - "bumiputeras treated university places as matter of right" - neglecting studies
- 2008 survey found that 71% of Malaysians agreed that “race-based
affirmative action” was “obsolete” and should be replaced with a “merit-
based policy”
- Tengku Razaleigh - response to BEEA - the National Stakeholders’ Economic Action Plan - replace NEP with horizontal equity programmes based on productivity, meritocracy and needs.
- HA Lee (2012) - "Needs based AA makes no sense" - objective
of NEP is to eliminate identification of race and economic function - therefore it has to be race-based and temporary
- increase in intra-ethnic inequality
- Govt study: 30% still not achieved - therefore
NEP to continue - c/f private studies
Full transcript