Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Ethnic Plurality and Nation Building Process: A Comparative Analysis between Rukun Negara, Bangsa Malaysia and 1malaysia Concepts as Nation Building Programs in Malaysia

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Ethnic Plurality and Nation Building Process: A Comparative Analysis between Rukun Negara, Bangsa Malaysia and 1malaysia Concepts as Nation Building Programs in Malaysia

Article excerpt


This paper aims to make a comparative analysis of Malaysia's nation-building process and critically look at these programs; namely the Rukun Negara, Bangsa Malaysia and 1Malaysia by looking at three main angles; ideology, race and ethnicity as the nation-building components. Initial survey has found out that tolerant government compromise to integrate the multiracial Malaysian has contributed to the problems. Even though the recent trends show there is a tendency of Malaysian to be 'colour blind' due to some kind of democratization and freedom of information access, still however, it did not show any sign that racial politics will disappear for good. Its unique compositions that based on multiracial, multi-religious, multicultural and multilingual as well as geographically divided has been identified by many scholars as an obstacle to the construction of Bangsa Malaysia. Several efforts from Rukun Negara (national ideology), Bangsa Malaysia and the latest, 1Malaysia have been and are being made by the government in realizing the prospect but no avail. The question now, how the Malaysian-style of racial accommodation will survive, is the nation-building program have been sufficient enough to dispose racial sentiments among the multiracial Malaysian, and if it is not, what should be happening.

Keywords: Malaysian politics, consociationalism, primordialism, nationalism, communalism, nation state, nation-building

1. Introduction

Since its year of independence, Malaysia has come to many glorious achievements and accomplishments. Its stability in politics has always been the solid platform for any advancements and extraordinary achievements in all aspects of life including social, economy, development, education and even sports.

Malaysia's capability has established its name as the new economic power of Asia and becomes a rapid developing country. This is something amazing and out of expectation. Malaysia has got its status in just a short period of time as the result of a very influential relationship between the leaders and the people. The multi-racial Malaysian is generally enjoying a better life than before independence. While in the international arena, the "mutual benefits and peaceful co-existence" of foreign policy adoption has continued to create a positive impact for Malaysia (Hilley, 2011). Hence, it is not surprising when Malaysia is often recognized as an example of a multi-racial developing country and often has been referred to by other developing countries.

Unfortunately, this success does not leave any significant impact to the relationships between ethnic in Malaysia. After 55 years of independence, relationship among the major ethnics has maintained its status quo that has been inherited before the formation of modern Malaysia.

Although various approaches and several integration programs have been implemented, and some of them are still moving in progress, there are no signs that the compositions would be eroded and the formation of Malaysian nation-state will be realized. Although at the surface level, the relationship between ethnic in Malaysia may be deemed to be quiet, it could be just a layer of camouflage and deem as 'cosmetics'. Deep in the bottom, a strong stream of anger, frustration, discontentment and hatred between ethnic flows hardly and possibly creating a racial dichotomy that persisted nearly every aspects of life. This dichotomy is always painted with suspicion, mistrust and hatred over ethnocentric feeling that eventually sharpen the feeling of primordial. All of these have led to the creation of soaring competition among the ethnic. As a result, almost all aspects of socio-economic and socio-politics in Malaysia are often portrayed in terms of zero-sum competition between the Malay and non-Malays.

Thus, the Rukun Negara (National Ideology), Bangsa Malaysia (Malaysian nation-state) and the latest 1Malaysia concept are among the programs of nation building which were forwarded by the government as an effort to reduce the radical racial politicking, and then to form a national integration. …

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