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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Southeast Asian Studies
Title Chinese Responses to Malay Hegemony in Peninsular Malaysia 1957-96
Volume 34
Issue 3
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1996
Page numbers 32-55
URL http://kyoto-seas.org/pdf/34/3/340304.pdf
Owing to their status as an immigrant minority community, the political, social and economic life
of Chinese in Peninsular Malaysia (known as Malaya in the period before 1963) has inevitably
been shaped by initiatives emanating from the dominant Malay community. According to the
latest census figures released in 1995, Chinese form 29.4% of the population in Peninsular
Malaysia compared to 57.4% for Malays and 9.5% for Indians [Government of Malaysia,
Department of Statistics Malaysia 1995: VoLl, 40J. This paper examines the impact of Malay
hegemony, which emerged with independence in 1957, on Chinese political and economic life.
The interplay of Malay ascendance and Chinese responses over the last four decades has
undergone three distinct phases: (1) 1957-69 - Alliance coalition rule; (2) 1970-90
National Front (Barisan Nasional) coalition rule and implementation of the New Economic
Policy (NEP); (3) 1991-present - implementation of the National Development Policy (NDP).
During the first phase, Chinese experienced meaningful political participation and made
significant economic gains. The second phase saw concentration of power in the United Malays
National Organization (UMNO), a concerted implementation of Malay affirmative action policies,
and a concomitant marginalization of Chinese political activity. In the current phase, NDP
policies, shaped by the objectives of Prime Minister Mohamad Mahathir's "Vision 2020," have
produced a political and economic climate more conducive to Chinese interests.

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