The politics of national identity in West Malaysia: Continued mutation or critical transition?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this paper, national identity is conceptualized in terms of competing representations of the putative "nation" based on which socio-political contests unfold and bureaucracy functions. Two key historical happenings marked the politics of national identity in West Malaysia: the 1969 racial riots and the Islamization policies. After 1969, comprehensive ethnic-based preferential policies were formalized, while Malay political primacy justified on the basis of indigeneity became entrenched. The Islamization Policy implemented from the 1980s mainstreamed the idea of Malaysia as a negara Islam. Executive curtailment of judicial autonomy led to institutional mutations dubbed by a scholar as the "silent re-writing of the Constitution." During the 1990s, despite selected socio-cultural measures of "liberalization" more accommodative of non-Malay interests, ethnic preferential treatments remained prevalent. Moreover, the conflation of the logic of Malay primacy with that of Islamic supremacy in institutional practices resulted in a rise in inter-religious contentions. Historic regime change became conceivable following recent political development. Nonetheless, prospects for radical revision of existing inter-religious dynamics remain dim because Islamic conservatism among Malay politicians transcends party-lines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-51
Number of pages21
JournalSoutheast Asian Studies
Volume47
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009

Fingerprint

Islamization
national identity
Malaysia
mutation
politics
political development
conservatism
bureaucracy
Islam
liberalization
politician
constitution
autonomy
regime
policy

Keywords

  • Inter-religious relations
  • Islamization
  • Malay political primacy
  • Nationhood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations

Cite this

The politics of national identity in West Malaysia : Continued mutation or critical transition? / Ting, Mu Hung Helen.

In: Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 47, No. 1, 06.2009, p. 31-51.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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