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The New Economic Policy in Malaysia: Affirmative Action, Ethnic Inequalities and Social Justice

Edmund Terence Gomez and Johan Saravanamuttu (Editors)

For more than 40 years, the New Economic Policy and its successor programs have shaped Malaysia's socioeconomic development and the allocation of political power. The original policy sought to eradicate poverty and achieve economic parity among the country's various ethnic communities. However, it was based on an apparent paradox - the use of ethnic preference to promote national unity. The policy's core tenet was affirmative action on behalf of the Bumiputera community.

Drawing on a wealth of statistical and documentary evidence, this major new book provides a comprehensive and rigorous assessment of the NEP. The contributors show that there have been some positive outcomes, among them a considerable reduction of poverty, greater interethnic equity parity and the emergence of a resourceful Bumiputera middle class. But these partial successes have to be weighed against persistent complaints associated with increasing intraethnic Bumiputera income disparities; the emergence of a small, politically powerful and disproportionately wealthy Bumiputera elite; a serious brain drain; and weak human capital. As a result, divisive debates about group rights, ethnic identity and an elusive national unity dominate Malaysia's policy discourse. The New Economic Policy in Malaysia offers a timely and fresh perspective, suggesting that the long-term implementation of racially-targeted policies reinforces stereotypical ethnic identities and hinders the creation of a more inclusive society.

Edmund Terence GOMEZ is Professor of Political Economy at the Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya.
Johan SARAVANAMUTTU is Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore.

publication year: 2012
412 pages
ISBN: 978-697-5832-67-3  Paperback  US$30.00  S$38.00

Our edition is available only in Singapore


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Last modified on 19 November, 2012 by NUS Press