1 The use of a folk notion of race underlying cultural differences between people is to be found on almost every page of the book. In discussing "other characteristics" of race than ethnic origin, for instance, Mahathir notes (1970:84) that "The Jews for example are not merely hook-nosed, but understand money instinctively. The Europeans are not only fair-skinned, but have an insatiable curiosity" (Mahathir 1970:84). Other examples abound in the text, for instance (Mahathir 1970:96), "Inherent racial character explains the rapid recovery of Germany and Japan after their defeat in World War II." Closer to home, "The Malays are not merely brown, but are also easy-going and tolerant. And the Chinese are not just almond-eyed people, but are also inherently good businessmen" (Mahathir 1970:84).
2 Furthermore, it is used to define the racial basis of national unity, a "Malaysia for the Malays"--"the basis of national unity, simply stated, is a single ethnic group possessing a common language, culture and religion confined in an area of definite geographical boundaries" (Mahathir 1970:98).
3 The racial problems which so characterize Malaysian society today can be clearly laid at the doorstep of the British colonialists who instituted policies favoring the massive immigration of Chinese and Indian labor into the Malay peninsula, to the point of radically and permanently altering the original demographic map of Malaysia and of laying the historical foundation for a potentially explosive social context in Malaysia.
4 Less well understood is the social context in Malaysia before the arrival of the British, and the patterning of the "mosaic society" that could be found in the marketplaces of especially the cosmopolitan entrepot's such as Malacca. Judith Nagata (1979) refers to the ethnic "mosaic" which is apparent in pre-colonial Malaysian society prior to the installation of British administrative machinery which set up a rigid census system based on three racial categories--Malay, Indian and Chinese.
5 The two-tiered system effectively separates the "Bumiputra" from the "non-Bumi's"--granting first-class citizenship, special rights and privileges in government hiring, education, discounts in loans and in buying cars, houses, business and other major acquisitions in life, to all those who fall "racially" within the first category, and in effect conferring constitutionally "second-class" status to all "alien" groups--Chinese and Indians, who are given only token, back of the line treatment in government hiring, education, etc.
6 A bureaucratic tendency has emerged which minimizes the interaction of local groups within wider fields of action. "Chinese middlemen at all levels serve as specialized middle-men linking their fellow Chinese further down the scale into the Malay-dominated political system. Rather than integration per se, an attenuated encapsulation prevails" (Judith Strauch 1981:12).
7 Because "racial" politics are thus systematically embedded and articulated, they acquire an unmarked "basicness" about them which enables them to be more easily construed as a "natural" and "unquestionable" part of the social order and therefore they become less susceptible and less available to open criticism and attack. To then question such aspects of the system is to cause a breach of faith with the unspoken, "received" reality and therefore it is to risk having one's political sentiments or national loyalties being called into question, or being called in for questioning, oneself.
This ordinary way of doing things, as if it were a normal part of the order of the Muslim universe, is then also reinforced by a more explicit system of repression, rules and restrictions the violation of which, under one act of national security or another, will definitely result in some form of "rehabilitation."
8 It is even more important to recognize that the pluralism of the Malaysian mosaic has largely, from a political point of view, become the "bi-polarization" of the society between the Malays on the one hand and the Chinese on the other. It is this polarization between Chinese and Malay which has largely fueled the ethnic differences and the development of contrasting ethnicities, and the drawing of the rigid boundary between the two groups. It has resulted in the clear ethnization of the social and political environment, a process of emphasizing and redefining internal ethnic solidarity and markers of ethnic identity vis-a-vis the counter reference group, and of constructing stereotypes of the out group, which become to some extent self-sustaining and perpetuating of the same "politics of race" in which they are rooted in the first place.
9 While this is true for the separate communities as a whole, in which the community orientation tends to maintain the boundary between the groups and reinforce in-group solidarity, it can also be said that individuals can and often do pass between the two boundaries into the worlds of the other, but only as individuals, and only under circumstances in which there is individual and interpersonal recognition and friendship.
10 Thus their symbols of such ethnic solidarity involve those symbols of social mobility and socio-economic status--hand phones, business cards, fancy cars, nice homes, servants.
11 Rabushka's work (1973) reveals some of the fundamental differences between Chinese and Malay. Chinese tend to be more culturally ethnocentric than the Malay. More cosmopolitan contexts, inducing social extroversion, hence greater interracial social interaction, reduces such ethnocentrism, while social introverts tend to be much more ethnocentric in orientation. In terms of relative social distance, and the degree of tolerance between these groups, "Penang Malays are more tolerant of the Chinese than their Kuala Lumpur counterparts, but they are less tolerant on the question of interracial marriage. But omitting eating and marriage, the two associations affected by religion, we find (with one exception) that two-thirds of all Malay respondents are not opposed to crossing racial boundaries in employment, social activity or neighborhood of residence" (1973: 62).
In regard to Chinese attitudes, no religious obstacles interfere with Chinese eating with Malays in the same eating houses. "Chinese in both Kuala Lumpur and Penang are more tolerant of Malays than Malays are tolerant of them. In greater degree, they are willing to eat, work, join and live with members of the Malay race" (Rabushka 1967:62). The study holds that racial stereotypes have little or not role in promoting social or political harmony, and that positive or negative attitudes are relatively independent of such stereotypes.
Chinese tend to see Malay behavior in the local context as childlike, with a lack of ambition--"traits that can be smiled on with some condescension" (Rabushka 1973:254) These attitudes are somewhat separate from feelings of structural discrimination as second class citizens. "Government officials, by contrast, may be viewed as heavy-handed tyrants spoon-feeding the Malay peasant on the one hand and constricting natural Chinese rights on the other" (Rabushka 1973: 254).
Malay stereotypes of the Chinese; are that they are intelligent, ambitious, active, honest, thrifty, industrious and hardworking, yet ritually unclean and impure. The Chinese tend to see the Malays as clean, and yet lacking ambition, while "Intelligence, thrift, activity, and honesty are given approximately equal point values... and fall significantly below the scores registered for cleanliness and (lack of) ambition." (Rabushka 1973:67)
12 Ethnicity and race are terms often used interchangeably, in part because obvious markers of "racial identity" are often used in the definition of ethnic identity. Though related, the notions of ethnicity and ethnoculture must be critically distinguished--ethnoculture consists of that orientation which is more-or-less culturally embedded and traditionally defined, whereas ethnicity tends to be defined in the social context, in terms that are economic, religious, and political, and which tend to be more superficial, hence transient, than more deeply embedded ethnocultural traits.
13 From these findings, a conclusion is drawn, among others, that "multi-racial living experiences do not necessarily promote racial tolerance or political unity" (Rabushka 1973:101). The data tended to support a "transaction hypothesis" that higher levels of daily social interaction tends to promote higher levels of positive effect. On the other hand, evidence points out that social integration does not necessarily correlate with "democratic political stability"--"the transaction model does not clearly distinguish the political and nonpolitical aspects of "integration." Living in multiracial neighborhoods increases affect, whereas ethnic enclaves reduces it. Education enhances interethnic interaction, while age, religious and sexual differences have little impact "on the extent of racial integration" (Rabushka 1973:124-5).
14 Wallace's theory of the organization of diversity (1970) holds that a society must have developed a set of mutually shared equivalence structures which facilitate communication and interaction across ethnic boundaries, mechanisms which allow for the translation of common value across such boundaries.
It is to be expected that a complex multi-ethnic society like Malaysia will have worked out a simple set of equivalence structures for the translation of value between groups, that the expression of these equivalence structures will follow the idioms of the dominant group, or will be of Malay in expression or substance, and that they will be focus to deal with interactions across the main set of boundaries between the Malays and the Chinese.
15 Situations involving intermarriage, which are very infrequent, heterosexual discourse, or groups of Malays or Chinese sharing the same eating facilities and eating within the same set of stalls, are those in which there is great risk for such alternation to occur and thus provide those circumstances in which practices of self-reinforcing social discrimination and indirect constraints work to reinforce the structural realities of ethnic differences.
16 Thus, while many Chinese will dress with the sarong, frequently visit Malay hawkers and eat Malay food, and watch Malay programs and movies on television, worship local Malay spirits or deities, and while the language of almost all interethnic, government, or school interaction is now in the national Bahasa Malaysia, or in the pidgin Pasar Malay, except in the world of Chinese business which remains either dialectically Chinese or English, most Malays will never eat in Chinese places which are considered basically contaminated by the presence of pork, will not learn Chinese or watch Chinese movies, even though the Malays are probably frequently using products of Chinese manufacture or frequenting or working within businesses organized, run or owned by Chinese on a Chinese model.
17 These six problems are themselves intertwined in complex ways, suggesting that there can be no simple or straightforward solutions.
18 Brand new nations were forged in an arbitrary manner on maps in European meeting rooms, creating new superficial administrative unities among large areas of cultural diversities. The demand for cheap labor in primary production on plantations, mines and in primary processing led to the en mass importation of cheap and exploitable labor forces, permanently disturbing local patterns of population distribution.
19 It is believed that among this group there can be expected to be a high rate of alcoholism, drug abuse, gambling and patterns of abuse in families. This is the category in which sociological factors begin to play a bigger part in determining the identity of its members than the psychological factors, thought the sociological forces may have psychological consequences in the behavioral adaptations of the members.
20 Furthermore, underlying all of these principles is the overarching principle of psycho-social integration which is critically tied to status-role identification at each of the three levels. Thus, there is a source of constant conflict between personal desires and goals and familial relations and obligations, communal interests and expectations, and super-communal commitments and loyalties.