Will Malaysia ever be colour-blind?
In Malaysia, a promise to continue a race-based affirmative action policy will only entrench racism
By Nazry Bahrawi
After South Africa and Rwanda's harrowing experiences, it might be expected that no country would want its citizens governed racially lest it be torn asunder. But Malaysia considers itself an exception. Its leaders just gave race-based policies a renewed stamp of approval.
Last month, prime minister Najib Razak vowed to continue an unpopular affirmative action policy that favours the nation's Malays (who make up for slightly more than half of its population) over the Chinese and Indian minorities, who account for about 26% and 8% respectively.
The New Economic Policy (NEP), as this racialised national programme is known, was introduced nearly four decades back to raise the Malays' share of the nation's wealth from a meagre 1.5% to a more equitable 30% and create a Malay middle class. To this end, the government imposed racial quotas in such spheres as education and business.
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