Malay Nationalism, Islamic Supremacy and the Constitutional Bargain in the Multi-ethnic Composition of Malaysia

Malay Nationalism, Islamic Supremacy and the Constitutional Bargain in the Multi-ethnic... Malay Nationalism, Islamic Supremacy and the Constitutional Bargain in the Multi-ethnic Composition of Malaysia JACLYN LING-CHIEN NEO* 1. Introduction In the 30 years since independence, Islam has become increasingly prominent in the public domain of Malaysia, which is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious federation. This may be attributed to the influence of a worldwide Islamic revival and the consequent politicization of Islam by Malaysian opposition political parties, particularly Partai Islam Semalaysia (PAS). The Federal and state governments, under the leadership of the ruling United Malay National Organisation (UMNO)-led government responded by adopting policies designed to out-Islamicise PAS, to retain Malay support and UMNO’s role as the champion of the Malay cause. Most notably, this included a dec- laration in 2002 that Malaysia was already an Islamic state (since it had a dominantly Muslim population). This alienated the non-Malays, as this push towards increased Islamicization at the governmental level betrays the government’s commitment to multi-culturalism and multi-ethnicity as part of the constitutional bargain. There are three major ethnic groups in Malaysia. The Malays, who are considered indigenous to Malaysia, constitute about 54 percent of the population. The Chinese and the Indians, who were economic migrants under British colonial rule, constitute http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal on Minority and Group Rights Brill

Malay Nationalism, Islamic Supremacy and the Constitutional Bargain in the Multi-ethnic Composition of Malaysia

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Publisher
Martinus Nijhoff
Copyright
© 2006 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1385-4879
eISSN
1571-8115
D.O.I.
10.1163/157181106777069950
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Malay Nationalism, Islamic Supremacy and the Constitutional Bargain in the Multi-ethnic Composition of Malaysia JACLYN LING-CHIEN NEO* 1. Introduction In the 30 years since independence, Islam has become increasingly prominent in the public domain of Malaysia, which is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious federation. This may be attributed to the influence of a worldwide Islamic revival and the consequent politicization of Islam by Malaysian opposition political parties, particularly Partai Islam Semalaysia (PAS). The Federal and state governments, under the leadership of the ruling United Malay National Organisation (UMNO)-led government responded by adopting policies designed to out-Islamicise PAS, to retain Malay support and UMNO’s role as the champion of the Malay cause. Most notably, this included a dec- laration in 2002 that Malaysia was already an Islamic state (since it had a dominantly Muslim population). This alienated the non-Malays, as this push towards increased Islamicization at the governmental level betrays the government’s commitment to multi-culturalism and multi-ethnicity as part of the constitutional bargain. There are three major ethnic groups in Malaysia. The Malays, who are considered indigenous to Malaysia, constitute about 54 percent of the population. The Chinese and the Indians, who were economic migrants under British colonial rule, constitute

Journal

International Journal on Minority and Group RightsBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2006

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