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Before Malaya's independence in 1957, the British segregated the Malays from the non-Malays for the British administration's own political and economic benefits, the outcome of which was a lack of inter-ethnic interaction and harmony. The communities were driven further apart by ethnic-specific economic activities (in broad terms, the Chinese in business, the Malays in agriculture, and the Indians in the rubber estates), religion, culture, political affiliation (in the pre-independence and early post-independence years, the Chinese and Indians had closer political affinities to their homelands than to Malaya), and income levels.
All these were ingredients for ethnic violence and unrest. Yet, Malaya, then Malaysia, has remained stable and peaceful, and has managed to prosper over the years. What were the policies that have enabled Malaysia to achieve political stability?
This was the focus of the fourth Perdana Discourse Series. In this monograph are transcripts of the keynote address of the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who explains thow multi-ethnic Malaysia achieved political stability through affirmative action. His speech is followed by presentations by former Transport Minister, Tun Dr. Ling Liiong Sik, academician Professor Dr. Faridah Hassan, youth political representative Ms Ismalina Ismail, and youth representative Mr. Logandran Balavijendran. Summaries of the findings of the student breakout sessions are also included. The Perdana Discourse Series was jointly organised by Perdana Leadership Foundation, an independent research and archive institution dedicated to Malaysia's Prime Ministers, and Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), the biggest public university in Malaysia.
This 80-page monograph is a useful reference and introduction to Malaysia's race-based affirmative action policies.