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To Keep Peace Malaysia Needs to Honor Minority Groups

on 2001/2/6 0:48:02 ( 2327 reads )


GEORGETOWN, MALAYSIA, January 23, 2001: "We don't want an angry confrontation with the Malays because we know that racial harmony is the key to our country's peace and success," so expounds Khoo Huck Cheong, a Chinese tourist guide. Until recently Malaysia's Chinese minority population of 6.6 million have been content to cultivate their culture and live peacefully on the northern island of Penang. For over 30 years the Chinese have graciously tolerated a law that guarantees Malays, the Muslim ethnic majority, cheaper loan rates, better jobs and preferred acceptance into universities. Backing Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in the recent 1999 election, the Chinese were hoping the Malay party leader would abolish the affirmative action policies. Threatening a Muslim holy war, a Malay student group and other Malays have forced the Prime Minister to back down in helping the Chinese. Mahathir, Malaysia's Prime Minister of 19 years has pressured the Chinese to accept racially integrated schools with Malay, Chinese and Indians. In their own schools, the minority Chinese have been able to preserve their language and history. Elsewhere in the region, Singapore, with its predominantly Chinese culture, is watching the situation. Hindus, the other racial minority in Malaysia, have also accommodated the Malay Muslim majority rule. In 1998, a Hindu Temple was relocated when Muslims protested that the temple bells disrupted Muslim prayers.

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