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Title: Malaysian Identity in 2010, Malay Sources
Authors: Humairah Zainal
Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir
Keywords: Alliance with other countries (Regional and international)
Economic growth
(Aspirational) Innovative
Malay Ethnonational Sovereignty
Morally upright
Multiracial/ racial harmony
Politically stable
Progressive nation, including progressive Islam
Significant other (British)
Skilled workforce
Technologically advanced
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: National University of Singapore
Citation: Humairah Zainal, Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir (2019). Malaysian Identity in 2010, Malay Sources : 1-20. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Malaysia’s predominant discourse of national identity is Malay ethnonational sovereignty. The categories that form part of this discursive formation include Islam and various aspects of Malay identity, such as Malay language. This discourse is characterised by both elite and mass texts, and is distributed across all types of texts. Besides priding itself on Malay ethnonational sovereignty, Malaysia is also perceived as a peaceful leader, a developed and multicultural country, with patriotic and morally upright citizens across the texts sampled. All of these categories are understood positively. On the other hand, the discourse that positions Britain as a negative significant other is based on the two countries’ historical relations, as Britain previously colonised Malaysia for over a century prior to the country’s independence. Overall, there are no challenger discourses for the top 20 identity categories. Instead, what emerged strongly was the dominance of discourses such as social diversity in elite texts, and the absence of the same discourses in mass texts. Categories which form the discourse on development such as economic growth typically appear in both elite and mass texts. However, categories like ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘multiracialism’ are rarely found in mass texts. Hence, it can be argued that while discourses on Malay ethnonational sovereignty, peaceful leader and developed country are formed based on mutual consensus between the state authorities and the public, discourses surrounding social diversity seem to be rather paternalistic. Thus, this category can be understood as a hegemonic state discourse in Malaysia.
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