Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://doi.org/10.1080/10357823.2011.552706
Title: Race, class and politics in peninsular Malaysia: The general election of 2008
Authors: Fee, L.K. 
Appudurai, J.
Keywords: Class
Ethnicity
Malaysia
Multiculturalism
Plural
Politics
Race
Issue Date: Mar-2011
Citation: Fee, L.K., Appudurai, J. (2011-03). Race, class and politics in peninsular Malaysia: The general election of 2008. Asian Studies Review 35 (1) : 63-82. ScholarBank@NUS Repository. https://doi.org/10.1080/10357823.2011.552706
Abstract: Racial politics have bedevilled peninsular Malaysia since independence in 1957, largely sustained by a ruling coalition of partners sharing power unequally, in a consociational government. The effect of a racialised practice over fifty years is the institutionalisation of the politics of ethnic pluralism, each component driven by its own internal dynamic and cultural logic: for the Chinese it is the politics of economic security, for the Tamils the politics of religion and caste, and for the Malays incipient class antagonisms that are historically rooted in a feudal society. In the general election of 2008, there was an unprecedented swing of votes across the ethnic divide against the ruling government, resulting in the loss of five state governments to an opposition coalition espousing multiculturalism and the loss of the government's two-thirds majority in Parliament for the first time. However, we argue that these developments do not signal the beginning of the end of racial politics in peninsular Malaysia. Instead, the opposition has skilfully recoded multiculturalism as social justice and accountability in racial terms, and effectively communicated this to an essentially racialised electorate at a time when Malays, Chinese and Tamils had lost faith in the ruling government's ability to address deep-seated grievances specific to each of these communities. © 2011 Asian Studies Association of Australia.
Source Title: Asian Studies Review
URI: http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/124588
ISSN: 10357823
DOI: 10.1080/10357823.2011.552706
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