Malaysia with a population of 28.3 millions (Department of Statistics Malaysia, 2010) is pluralistic and multicultural. The three main ethnic groups constituting the Malays and Bumiputera (67.4%), Chinese (24.6%), Indians (7.3%) have their own unique culture and heritage, such as language, belief system, tradition and religion. The lifestyle patterns of the different groups have direct links to the differences in their values and expectations(Syed Serajul Islam, 2008). Since achieving independence fifty-five years ago, Malaysia has undergone economic transformation in terms of diversification of its agriculturein the 1960s to manufacturing in the 1970s-1980s, and then to technology-based development since the 1990s.
These achievements came as a result of the ability of Malaysians, diverse in their culture, to tolerate, and to live and work together in realising the country’s overall goals of growth and prosperity. But then as pointed out by Musa Hitam (2007), nation-building is not just about providing highways, byways and hospitals. It is also about weaving together national values for the citizenry to live by and devising greater missions to galvanize their camaraderie and spirit. Such a vision of weaving together national values is still far from the set goal.
For Malaysia up to the present day, except for the 1969 race riot between the Malays and the Chinese, and the 2001 clashes between the Malays and the Indians, race relations have been peaceful unlike what had been experienced in countries with mixed populations such as Nigeria, Rwanda, Bosnia, Thailand, Sudan, and India (Zaid, 2007).The basis for conflict between the ethnic groups stems from identity contestation in the form of language and culture (Shamsul, 2006). In the 1970s, the Malays advocated that the core of the national culture should be that of the Malay. This assimilative approach was unkindly viewed by the Chinese and the Indians. Relationships between the ethnic groups are rather complex, intricate and sensitive, especially when dealing with matters of religion, culture and language.
These features are important in identity contestation, a phenomenon created by the British in the context of colonial knowledge and its investigative modalities (Shamsul, 2006). According to Shamsul, it is through the colonial practice of codifying, documenting and representing the social, cultural, economic and political state in history that modern identities in Malaysia like Malay/Malayness, Chinese/Chineseness and Indian/Indianess have emerged, consolidated and fortified. Realizing the danger of creating distrust among the ethnic groups the government had rescinded the assimilation strategy and sought the policy based on the multicultural model.
My expectation as a Malaysian living in the multi-cultured society is every Malaysia residents respect, unite and tolerance with each other although we are different ethnic and having a different cultural background. To push Malaysia and Malaysians to success, we must collaborate in every aspect like education, economic , politics and others. This can be a great advantage for development of Malaysia in global competition as we have different ethnic with different cultural background that we collaborate and creating a better way to work, hence improving our efficiency and productivity compared to other nation that only dominated by single race.
In education, my expectation is to have Multicultural Education in every level of school, which mean we have Multicultural Education from kinder garden to university. The crux of having Multicultural Education is achieve its purposes for students, teachers, parents, and administrators of the school system : a) a learning environment that support positive interracial contact; b) a multicultural curriculum; c) positive teacher expectations; d) administrative support; and, e) teacher training workshops (Bennett, 1995). If one of the features is absent, frustration and heightened resentment may occur as backlash behaviors multiply. Besides that, a multicultural curriculum should be considered for several reasons: a) provides alternative points of view relative to information already taught in most educational systems; b) provides ethnic minorities with a sense of being inclusive in history, science etc.; and, c) decreases stereotypes, prejudice, bigotry, and racism in Malaysia and the world.
Educational institutions have been dictated too long by attitudes, values, beliefs, and value systems of one race and class of people. The future of our universe is demanding a positive change for all. In Politics, race plays a large role in Malaysian politics, and many Malaysian political parties are ethnically based. The Government’s New Economic Policy (NEP) and the National Development Policy(NDP) which superseded it, were implemented to advance the standing of Bumiputera Malaysians. The policies provide preferential treatment to Malays over non-Malays in employment, education, scholarships, business, and access to cheaper housing and assisted savings. While improving in the economic position of Malays, it is a source of resentment amongst non-Malays. Prime Minister Dato Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak has claimed to attempt to close racial divides through the 1Malaysia initiative. The origin of race based politics can be traced back to independence of Malaysia from United Kingdom, who wanted all citizens of Malaysia to be equal upon independence, instead of dominance by Malays.
This caused the political parties of the three major races at the time, the UMNO (representing Malays), the MCA (representing Chinese), and the MIC (representing Indians), to join and form the Alliance Party. My expectation for politics is that we should not dividing ourselves into parts based on our race. We should unite as one to make a better Malaysia and provide everyone a fair chance and right to fight for a higher achievement for our country without any discrimination or preferential treatment.
For multi-cultured society in economic sector, the economic consequences of ethnic heterogeneity and ethnic diversity have been topics discussed world widely. The relationship between ethnicity and economic development seems to be one of the key topics to an ideal sustainable developing nation. According to Easterly and Levine (1997), high ethnic diversity has a direct negative effect on economic growth.
Furthermore, increase of ethnic diversity associated with more corruption(Mauro, 1995), reduces contribution to local public goods(Alesina et al., 1999), diminishing participation in groups and association (Alesina and La Ferraa, 2000) and higher propensity to from jurisdictions to sort into homogenous groups (Alesina et al., 2004). Moreover, greater ethnic heterogeneity decreases both the probability and the amount an individual contributes to a charitable organization (Okten and Osili, 2005). Although these studies showed the bad effect of ethnic diversity in economic sectors, i still expecting for a successful achievement in Malaysia Economy by uniting the three major races, Malay, Chinese and Indian through collaboration, respecting each other and tolerance. Therefore, a leader and a good plan is necessary for us to unite
as one to create a better multi-cultured Malaysia!
-Abu Bakar Nordin , Norlidah Alias & Saedah Sira (January 2013). The Malaysia Online Journal of Educational Science. National Integration in Multicultural School Setting In Malaysia, volume 1, issue 1. Retrieved April 20th 2013, from http://moj-es.net/volume01-i01.php -Politics of Malaysia. Participation. Retrieved 23rd April 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Malaysia -Albert, C. (February 2011). The Impact of Ethnicity on the Regional Economic Development in Malaysia. Retrieved 23rd April 2013, from http://www.academia.edu/745998/The_Impact_of_Ethnicity_on_Regional_Economic_Development_in_Malaysia
Photos that showing the results of multi-cultural society in Malaysia