Ethnic Relations in Malaysia

1.0 Introduction

Malaysia is a country of over 200 ethnic groups. Among the Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazan-Dusun, Iban and others. With people from different cultural, ethnic or otherwise has always been on the agenda in the management of society and rule this country.

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Because of the diversity of cultures, religions and languages ??of the citizens of this country, then timbulah various problems involving ethnic relations. One could say that racism will always be a demarcation between the various races. This in turn can create tension and conflict between communities and thus may lead to bloodshed.

Based on the events of May 13, some important things that should be taken seriously in building a united Nagara. In this case, it appears factor harmonious ethnic relations is the key to the balance between a strong economy and political stability. Very strong ethnic ties to the citizens of a country rife diversity in religion, language, culture and ethnicity.

Malaysiayang people of various races and religions need to consider themselves as Malaysians who think and act towards achieving a common goal. In line with this, the prevailing unity between the races in this country should be strengthened to create a more peaceful environment, advanced, safe and prosperous.

2.0 Challenges of ethnic relations
2.1 Challenges of the economic aspects of ethnic relations

One of the challenges of ethnic relations in the economic aspects of the physical separation. This physical separation inherent effect of the policy of ‘divide and rule’ adopted by the British colonialists in the past. Physical separation is causing causing an ethnic group that does not recognize or have the opportunity to interact more frequently because living in different provinces. This relationship alienate relations and interactions and reinforce the sense of belonging and ethnocentrism among members of every ethnicity. This could give rise to prejudice, stereotypes and maintain ignorance among members of an ethnic group against another ethnic group.

Each ethnic group has its own education system and still use the syllabus as practiced in their home country. Malay students studying in the school Melayudan using the Malay language. The Indians were studying in Tamil schools and Tamil languages. As for the Chinese, they are studying in school and Mandarin Chinese. As a result, interactions among them only about ethnicity.

The social contract also also frequently raised by some parties. The social contract is an agreement reached during independence in drafting the constitution. Among the issues that is often raised is the special position of the Malays, Islam, the Malay language, and so on. Any issue raised or social contract could lead to estrangement hubungn ethnic groups in Malaysia.

2.2 Challenges of the economic aspects of ethnic relations

In the economic sector, there is a wide gap in terms of economic dominance. Most Malays dominate the agricultural sector is relatively backward. Chinese people generally dominate the more developed sectors of business and commerce. While the Indians dominated the farm-based economy. Consequently, the existence of different income gap between ethnic groups.

British policy that put people on the job cause certain ethnic dominate in any one field of work. The Malays are mostly engaged in agriculture, fishing and serving as a public servant. Most Chinese people are involved in the business sector and mining. While most of the Indians are laborers on the estate. This difference has caused dissatisfaction among certain ethnic groups. Indirectly, this strengthening lgi racism.

2.3 Challenges of the political aspects of ethnic relations

In this country there are different political parties based on ethnic groups and all political parties to uphold the interests of the ethnic groups represented. Politok racism can cause dissatisfaction and reinforce racism if expression of specific ethnic interests made without taking into account the interests of all parties. If the issue of racism, such as language, culture, education, religion, nationality and economic raised, then this action will not contribute towards the direction of a cohesive society.

2.4 Challenges of the inter-ethnic

Malaysia is a country consisting of a pluralistic society. Therefore, there are many differences in terms of religion, language and culture of the society in Malaysia. Each ethnic group to defend their culture and customs, ethnic prioritize them and may also consider only the best of their culture. This led members of ethnic preference for members of the same ethnicity in choosing a friend, get a job and the outcome will ultimately create inter-ethnic polarization. Apart from the existence of a multi-language press to prioritize their ethnic group would reinforce the feeling of the respective ethnic groups. Challenges in terms of the importance of these values ??will create bigger problems if the notion of ethnocentrism is the belief in the community.

2.5 The challenges of globalization

Globalization refers to the borderless world where relationships become increasingly short and quick. We can know the state of the outside world with a quick and fast and all the information can be passed without any limitations.Globalisation brings in influences from the West in terms of ideology, culture Hedonism and negative values, a free economy, science and technology and destructive political system that is considered best for all people.

Through globalization, the Western powers are exporting all kinds of evils that harm the country and the environment, culture, entertainment and exploitation of human resources and raw materials. These symptoms result in the disappearance of the luhar and Western thought accepted into society. Their success was aided by the local community who consider all coming from the west is good and modern.

This will have an impact on ethnic relations, integration, unity, easy to conflicts and even worse inviting communal riots. Indirectly, this situation will worsen ethnic relations in Malaysia.

3.0 The role of government in improving ethnic relations
3.1 Establishment of the Department of National Unity and National Integration

Racial riots on May 13, 1969 was an eye opener about the importance of the various efforts to more serious focus in managing differences and sensitivities in a plural society like Malaysia. Following the event, the National Operations Council (NOC) was established. On July 1, 1969, the Department of National Unity under the command of the NOC was created to address issues related to the reconstruction of social cohesion in our country at that time (Department of National Unity and National Integration, 2006).

After the dissolution of the NOC, the National Unity Advisory Council was established on 23 February 1971. Responsibility to nurture and protect national unity, the country continues to be placed under the responsibility of the Department of National Unity. Between 1990-2004, the Department of National Unity was placed under the Prime Minister by the name of National Unity and Integration Department (JPNIN).

Starting from independence until now, the government has developed and emphasis on some socio-economic policy in the lead to the unity and harmony of the diverse communities and national integration. Policies intended, including the National Education Policy, the National Cultural Policy and the New Economic Policy. Such policies have been strengthened further by introducing Pillars of the national ideology. To reduce the political actions that can divide people, efforts were made to form the National Front. As a follow up in an effort to create and strengthen the Malaysian race., Several other policies were developed. Among them are the National Development Policy, the National Vision Policy and National Social Policy. Government’s position was further emphasized in the 2020 statement.

JPNIN through the Action Plan for Unity and Integration 2005-2010, have planned a variety of efforts to promote and enhance national unity and integration of:

1. Political Strategy: Understanding

2. Economic Strategy

3. Strategies Education

4. The National Language Strategy Use

5. Strategies Religion

6. Cultural Strategy

7. Strategies Regional Integration

8. Strategies Security

9. Area Development Strategy

10. Strategies of Human Energy Use

11. Strategies Mass Media

12. Strategies Sportsmanship

13. Correctional Strategy Unity

14. Strategies Voluntary Organisations

15. Strategies Reading Research and Publications

16. Strategies Monitoring Current Issues and Conflicts

17. Strategies establishment of the National Unity Advisory Panel (PANEL) and Unity State Level Advisory Committee (JKPPN)

18. Strategies and Activities Program Unity

Other strategies:

-Creating training in intercultural communication

-Establish auditing government policies

-Develop an ethic of human rights and responsibilities to the people of Malaysia

Publication reading extensively about the races in Malaysia.

3.2 Strengthening the school’s vision

The education system cutting across various streams cause no specific mold that can be used to form a cohesive society. multi-stream education system that exists now has resulted in parents of students choose streams according to their own folk. Efforts to foster unity must start early with mambabitkan primary schools in the same mold. As such, national schools should be empowered to adopt a spirit of unity among students of various ethnic backgrounds. Thus, students can be trained to live and work together with patriotism and high berakomodatif.

Therefore, efforts should be taken to strengthen national schools in the national education system in order to place a stronger platform to unite the various races in the country without compromising national-type primary schools that have been agreed upon by all ethnic groups under the social contract. All parents are given the freedom to send their children to national schools. If they choose Chinese schools or Tamil, then no one can stop them.

However, primary school is an institution of education for the children of Malaysia to meet the aspirations and a national identity. School is not just the ability to educate students but help instill the values ??of unity among students from racial palbagai. The national school is a mainstream education for all Malaysians regardless of race.

To foster unity and confidence in one school system, national schools must be made more attractive to attract the non-Malays. In the Ninth Malaysia Plan, to make national schools the school of choice, the quality of teaching in these schools will be ranked by 100 per cent in secondary schools and 25 per cent of primary school teachers will have a first degree in 2010. Spirit of unity among students not only need to be nurtured by the school but also institutions of higher education. Measures to be undertaken are as follows, namely:

1. Not aside the native language proficiency respectively by introducing the teaching of Mandarin and Tamil.

2. Provide awareness to students about the importance of interaction between ethnic groups.

3. Developing more activity between ethnic groups

4. Conduct a program of interaction between the school and incorporate elements of ethnic interaction in the curriculum and enhance the skills to interact with other ethnic groups.

3.3 National Service (NS)

National Service (NS), first implemented in 2004, is specialized in mandatory training for three months in camp and boarding for teenagers Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia. NS carried out with the Rukun Negara and interdisciplinary curriculum that includes four modules, namely the physical module (among other activities include marching, the obstacles, cross-country skiing and hiking the woods); statehood module (knowledge of national construction or nation-building); Character Building Module (exploration of self and interpersonal) and Community Service Module (includes among other activities such as collaborative clean, beautify and invigorate the surrounding area). NS non-exertion or follow the trend adopted by other countries.

As stated by the Department of National Service, NS aims to boost patriotism among the younger generation, foster national unity and integration, develop positive character through the values, the spirit of volunteerism, and giving young people more active, intelligent and confidence.

NS indeed contribute to the cultivation of unity, especially among young people because of all the activities carried out to emphasize the spirit of goodwill and mutual tolerance among participants regardless of race or religion. The module is able to inculcate nationalism will love the homeland as well as allow them to learn the customs and culture of various communities. When there is a sense of patriotism within the participants, solidarity and integration and mutual cooperation among the races in Malaysia to be created because each had one goal, which is to see Malaysia as a country of peace and harmony. This could eventually produce teens who are willing to sacrifice for the unity of the nation.

4.0 The role of society in the context of ethnic relations
4.1 Neighbourhood Watch

Neighbourhood Watch Scheme was introduced in 1975 following applies Essential Regulations (Neighbourhood Watch 1975). In the early stages, Pillar Tetanggga allows people to control security in their homes. With a focus on the tasks that are required to patrol the community between the ages of 18 to 55 years. Beginning January 1, 1983 the government introduced a reform with emphasis on the neighborhood concept that aims to foster and strengthen neighborhood spirit among the local community. Consequently, The Essential (Neighbourhood Watch) Act 1975 has been amended for this purpose. In 2000, the approach of Neighbourhood Watch was amended once again with a broader mandate, namely the development of society as a whole to create national unity.

Vision Neighbourhood Watch is to assist in the building of a united Malaysia in the context of Vision 2020. While its mission is to foster mutual understanding and tolerance towards the development of a united Malaysian nation with its own identity and its motto was the United Progressive Direct.

The objectives of Neighbourhood Watch, which is to preserve, promote and strengthen national unity and national integration in line with national development policies based on the Federal Constitution and the Rukun Negara.

To ensure the goals are achieved Neighbourhood Watch, a number of activities carried out by the Neighbourhood Watch community can be categorized into a number of activities as follows:

– Social: the practice of visiting during the festive seasons like Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Christmas, Gawai festival intensity, and Family Day.

– Education, informal education, colloquium neighbor women, motivational courses, leadership courses, tuition, lectures in various fields.

– Sports Neka, running, football, handball, netball, water sports, traditional sports, sports and others.

– Recreation, tai chi, expedition climbing, hiking and mountaineering, tents and other work.

– Health and environment-related health talks, anti-drug, AIDS, cancer, cleanliness campaigns, anti mosquito and protect public property.

– Arts and cultural-dance classes, crafts, traditional games, gamelan classes, drums, traditional dances, lion dance, theater and others.

– Economic activities in hydroponic crops, livestock freshwater fish and making the water pepper

Neighbourhood Watch Scheme was introduced in 1975 as a measure to allow the people themselves to control and protect the security of their residential area. The scheme was subsequently renewed by emphasizing the concept of a neighborhood with a philosophy that will ensure the well being of neighborhoods of the country. At present the role of Neighbourhood Watch Scheme extended further with the community development approach to ensure the unity and harmonious relations in the community will remain unchanged and continue.

As of May 2006, there were 3228 Neighbourhood Watch areas were established throughout the country.Neighbourhood Watch Committee has organized various activities in their communities. From January to May 2006, the Neighbourhood Watch across the country have adopted a total of 36 029 activities. This activity aims to enable local residents acquaintances helping in trouble together, interact and foster closer ties at the grassroots level between leaders and people and between people of different ethnicity, customs and culture (Ministry of National Unity and National Integration).

4.2 Open House

The open house will be held by all Malaysians when the festive season. All ethnic groups in Malaysia will often visit the home-visiting different neighbors even ethnic. For example, during the celebration of Hari Raya, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban and others will visit the home of the Malays and vice versa for the other ethnic groups. Ethnic Chinese example will endeavor to provide kosher food to ethnic Malays when inviting ethnic Malays came to the house during Chinese New Year. This shows that the Chinese really care and understand the culture of the ethnic Malays. The ethnic Malays will not serve beef to the Indians when they came to the house during Hari Raya. These considerations demonstrate harmonious ethnic relations firm always prevailed among the people and understand and respect each other’s culture. Practice proves social integration among different communities so high despite race, religion and culture.

4.3 Acceptance of Culture

Today, the non-Malays in Malaysia started receiving Malay culture in terms of food and clothing. For example, the non-Malays handsome styling baju kurung and baju Melayu, especially on Friday and this phenomenon is normal for non-Malay students. To the Malays, they began to receive Chinese and Indian cuisine as well as the provision of cash from an envelope or red packet using a well-known among Chinese people. Adults also have to look at housing estates, there is the same placement for all ethnic definitely this will encourage more ethnic relations among the people through local activities.

4.4 Programs in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)

The student affairs through associations and clubs must always promote activities and programs that lead to unity among students. For example, through the activities of the Lantern Festival, which involves not only the Chinese and Indian students, but also to be accompanied by Malay students. Touching student leadership, turned out to be dominated by a particular race, but to also consist of various races such as the Student Representative Council (SRC).

The course content in all educational institutions should emphasize educational aspects in a harmonious multi-racial society. Spiritual values ??and common culture should be given preference in the subject of Nationalism, Islamic and Asian and Ethnic Relations. Therefore, it is important to strengthen the curriculum of personal morality and character of the students. This is because high personality to be the foundation of all spiritual and cultural values ??that will unite the younger generation.

Ike created a club or club Pillars of unity at each university is a very good step for this proposal is an effort to instil awareness of the importance of racial unity. Thus, the student affairs accordingly encourage the students to join the club or club Pillars of unity by giving certain privileges such as exemption of credit and so on. The university should also provide support for the activities carried out both in terms of material or advice.

Co-curricular activities is a field of study that emphasizes the nurturing and development of the individual through the psychomotor, cognitive and effective. Thus, extra-curricular activities such as sports programs implemented, clubs, associations, exhibitions, lectures and many more should be intensified and expanded again among students of all races. Outside of the academic system, the students should be involved in various community activities such as foster families, associations and uniform. This experience will be very valuable in understanding how the lives of Malaysians.

The unity and community service activities have an important role in encouraging participation and shared experience between them. Thus, the incentive for such activities must be in close collaboration with the government and the private sector. The students must be assigned in community service projects such as the operation of community service, students return home and so on.

The lecturer also needs to be applied and exposed to racial unity attitude positive. The lecturer must be exposed to courses such as sociology of race and ethnic relations to apply the values ??that are important in nurturing students for racial harmony. Indeed, the lecturers have a big role as agents to spread unity and harmony in this multiracial country. They are agents of integration and unity that plays an important role in encouraging more interaction through assignments and academic projects.

5.0 Role of NGOs in the Context of Ethnic Relations

While there are organizations based on ethnic groups, but there are parent organizations at the national level umbrella organizations such as ethnic-based Malaysian Youth Society, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia and many more. This of course can speed up the process of ethnic relations through the role played by NGOs.

Talking about whether aspects of leadership at the national level or association leaders attended by leaders of various communities. For example, the leadership of the Malaysian Youth Council attended by all the ethnic groups in Malaysia.

Despite the division of society according to race, as the 4B Youth Movement, Youth Association Tamil, Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia, Malaysian Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the Indian Chamber of Commerce Malaysia, but this should be used by these organizations to create various dialogues and seminars in order to understand the problems that exist and find the solution. For example, the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) has always held a seminar to explain the importance of ethnic relations in the context of Malaysia.

Therefore, the role of the private sector and the government is required to contribute funds to increase research and development for innovation and drive economic growth. These funds are available such as the Intensive Research Priority Areas (IRPA) and grants from private and institutional organizations such as the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), the National Academy of Sciences and many more is the generator of economic development.

Because science and technology are so plays an important role in the economic development of the country, then this aspect is very important in increasing ethnic Malaysians. This is because when the national economy is growing rapidly as well as political stability, will be able to attract more investors either from within or outside the country to drive economic growth. This in turn provide employment opportunities to all segments of society regardless of ethnic groups. Consequently, the standard of living will increase, the gap could be balanced and the economy is capable of creating harmony in Malaysian society.

6.0 Conclusion

Ethnic relations is a very important thing for pluralistic Malaysian society. Ethnic relations will produce a harmonious Malaysian society, mutual cooperation and understanding, and always appreciate the social contract has been agreed since the beginning of independence.

Efforts should be continued to ensure hubungn ethnic groups in Malaysia are always in good condition. These efforts involve the role of government, community and non-governmental organizations. What is important in ensuring that ethnic relations are in good condition, these efforts must be answered by all levels of society.

Cultural diversity in Malaysia should not pose a problem of racism. Every race or ethnicity should know and memainkn their role in ensuring racial conflict as the May 13 recur. This unity is essential in order to contribute towards making Malaysia a developed nation by 2020.

In this regard, the prevailing unity between the races in this country should be strengthened to create a more peaceful environment, advanced, safe and prosperous. Therefore, all the cooperation of all parties such as government, community and non-governmental organizations is desirable to improve ethnic relations in Malaysia Nagara.


When Isaac (2001). Malaysia from 1945 to 2000. Utusan Publications & Distributors Sdn. Ltd.: New York

Shamsul Amri Baharuddin (2007). Ethnic Relations Module. Kuala Lumpur: Universiti Teknologi Mara.

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