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Monday, August 8, 2011

The constituent elements of the Special Position of the Malays


ANAS ZUBEDY

With Special Position, it is so important for Malaysians to understand its roots, its evolution and the real reasons for its institutionalisation. Not many people know that the constituent elements of the Special Position of the Malays--- land reservations; public services positions; educational scholarships; and trade licences--- were spawned during British rule as a way of protecting the people of the land who were being marginalised by the colonial economy. They were integrated into the Constitution of independent Malaya in 1957 mainly because the conferment of citizenship upon a huge segment of the non-Malay populace on incredibly liberal terms --- in the twinkling of an eye, from 15 % of the citizenry, Chinese and Indians became 40%---- intensified the vulnerability of an abysmally poor people. 


It is irrefutably true that the expansion and enhancement of Special Position through the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1970 was a major factor in the economic and social transformation of the Malays. Within 40 years, absolute poverty within the community has been reduced drastically (in 1970, 49.3% lived below the poverty-line; in 2010, it was 3.2%) and the Malays have emerged as a significant component of the middle and upper echelons of society. It is this massive transformation that has brought stability and relative peace and inter-ethnic harmony to the country. It has allowed a functioning, though fettered, democracy to take root.

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