Malaysia and Capitalist Modernisation: Plural and Multicultural Models

Steve Fenton

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Abstract

Malaysia has often been described as a plural society composed of three large ethnic groups, Malays, Chinese and Indians. The discourse of “multiculturalism”, so evident in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, is considerably less prominent in Malaysia. The Malaysian Government has pursued what may be termed “pro-Malay” policies, and there is little doubt that ethnic categories remain significant in daily life and institutional life. But at the same time Malaysia has produced its own plan of the resolution of problems of inequality and ethnic difference, without recourse to a discourse of “multiculturalism”. We conclude by suggesting that this case study produces some critical questions for “Western” multiculturalism, and suggests a critique of a multiculturalism which is, in effect, dominated by Euro-American models.

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:

Fenton, Steve. Malaysia and Capitalist Modernisation: Plural and Multicultural Models. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2003, vol. 5, no.2, pp. 135-147. UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574. www.unesco.org/shs/ijms/vol5/issue2/art3

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