Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Replicating of Domestic Security Policy in Malaysian Foreign Policy

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Replicating of Domestic Security Policy in Malaysian Foreign Policy

Article excerpt


Ethnic and religious conflicts have been one of the critical challenges in multi-ethnic and multi-religious countries. Since 1969, Malaysia, which contains a variety of ethnic and religious groups, has unequivocally been successful in terms of managing ethnic and religious differences in the country. The fundamental basis of Malaysia's ethnic and religious policy has been tolerance, a trait which has no doubt been helpful in dealing with ethnic and religious differences and providing domestic security. According to some scholars, states' domestic and foreign policies follow the same patterns of behaviour, which essentially means that states replicate their domestic policies in foreign policies; this article is to explain whether Malaysian foreign policy is shaped on the basis of internal tolerance and is in turn cooperative towards other countries. In regard to this aim, the article starts out by explaining the Malaysian government's domestic policies towards ethnic and religious groups and subsequently explains the government's foreign policy towards other countries in order to understand if there is replication in the domestic and foreign policy of Malaysia.

Keywords: Malaysia, replicate, security, toleration, domestic policy, and foreign policy

1. Introduction

One of the critical problems of multi-ethnic countries is the question of how to deal with different ethnic groups and minorities and how this behavior affects their security in the international sphere. Indigenous ethnic groups are most concerned with their autonomy and distinguishing characteristics that set them apart from other groups in the country. This being said, however, ethnic groups' political actions have been mainly reactive rather than proactive towards the aimed actions of the government (Gurr, 1993). In other words, the actions of the government lead ethnic groups to react accordingly. The behavior of the government can be traced in the international sphere. Essentially, states replicate their domestic behavior in the international arena, where they face the reactions of other countries. Thus, it can be said that "conflict breeds conflict" (Lichbach & Gurr, 2010). This assumption means that societies and social groups have their own complex behavioral patterns of conflict which are endemic and self-generative (Lichbach & Gurr, 2010).

Therefore, Regime type with its endemic characteristics has a direct impact on the behaviour of the government in domestic and external behaviour. There exists a plethora of literature that emphasizes the impact of regime type on the behaviour of the government. For example, Fox and Sandler (2003) identify a relationship between democracy and tolerance, and by placing democracy and autocracy at two ends of a continuum, argue that "as a state moves closer to the democratic end of the continuum, it becomes more tolerant and discriminates less against minorities, including ethnic and religious minorities". One of the most influential works on this matter is an article by Doyle (1986) that argues that the governments that respect the liberty of their citizens and individuals within their territory, follow peaceful intentions in their foreign policy as well. He concludes that democracies are not inclined to wage war against other democracies.

Other scholars, such as Regan and Paskeviciute (2003), have made connections between other factors. They pinpoint the relationship between women in society and the use of force by the state in the international arena. Their argument is built on the conception of power relationships found in gender studies and feminist theories, and explains how the internal distribution of political power at a societal level will influence the willingness of the ruling elite to engage in militarized interstate disputes and war. In other way, Caprioli and Boyer (2001) argue that "states that are characterized by higher levels of gender equality use lower levels of violence during crises than those with lower levels of gender equality". …

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