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Monday, December 14, 2009

Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Supremacy) Episode One

What is the Malay supremacy?
Ketuanan Melayu (Malay for Malay supremacy or Malay dominance]) is the claim that the Malay people are the tuan (masters) of Malaysia. The Malaysian Chinese and Indian-Malaysians who form a significant minority in Malaysia, are considered beholden to the Malays for granting them citizenship in return for special privileges as set out in Article 153 of the Constitution of Malaysia.
This quid pro quo arrangement is usually referred to as the Malaysian social contract. The concept of ketuanan Melayu is usually referenced by politicians, particularly those from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the most influential political party in Malaysia.
Although the idea itself predates Malaysian independence, the phrase ketuanan Melayu did not come into vogue until the early 2000s. Historically, the most vocal political opposition towards the concept has come from non-Malay-based parties, such as the Malaysian People's Movement Party (Gerakan) and Democratic Action Party (DAP); in the 2000s, the multiracial Parti Keadilan Rakyat also positioned itself against ketuanan Melayu, advocating instead ketuanan rakyat (supremacy of the people). The idea of Malay supremacy gained attention in the 1940s, when the Malays organized themselves to protest the Malayan Union's establishment, and later fought for independence. During the 1960s, there was a substantial effort challenging ketuanan Melayu led by the People's Action Party (PAP) of Singapore — which was a state in Malaysia from 1963 to 1965 — and the DAP after Singapore's secession. However, the portions of the Constitution related to ketuanan Melayu were "entrenched" after the racial riots of 13 May 1969, which followed an election campaign focused on the issue of non-Malay rights and ketuanan Melayu. This period also saw the rise of "ultras" who advocated a one-party government led by UMNO, and an increased emphasis on the Malays being the "definitive people" of Malaysia — i.e. only a Malay could be a true Malaysian.
The riots caused a major change in the government's approach to racial issues, and led to the introduction of an aggressive affirmative action policy strongly favouring the Malays, the New Economic Policy (NEP). The National Culture Policy, also introduced in 1970, emphasized an assimilation of the non-Malays into the Malay ethnic group. However, during the 1990s Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad rejected this approach, with his Bangsa Malaysia policy emphasising a Malaysian instead of Malay identity for the state. During the 2000s politicians began stressing ketuanan Melayu again, and publicly chastised government ministers who questioned the social contract.
Please see the video on Malay supremacy below.



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