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2008 Malaysian Elections: The End of Malaysia's Ethnic Nationalism?
Unformatted Document Text:  competing against KeAdilan. This means that the two parties combined constitute a two front attack on UMNO's electoral base. It should be noted that PAS's move to secular nationalism does not necessarily mean the end of religious nationalism. If PAS continues to move in the direction of secular nationalism, there may take place a schism giving rise to a new party calling for an Islamic state. Another blow to Malaysia' ethnic nationalism came from the Indian community. After years of quiet acquiescence, Malaysia's ethnic Indians began to openly protest their subordinate status (Brant 2008; Bendeich and Fernandez 2007). Open dissatisfaction took the form of the human rights group, Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Force). In late 2007, hundreds of Indians took to the streets protesting discrimination and the lack of job opportunities. Many Malaysian Indians are disillusioned with the MIC and the National Front's ethnicity based politics, and want instead a system that would give them equality (Ramirez 2008). Although it does not yet have a formal rival, the emergence of Hindraf opens the way for such a possibility. One of several possibilities lay in Malaysia's future: (1) the National Front will resort to more authoritarian and/or fraudulent means to stay in power, (2) a contentious transition period in which the National Front is no longer able to regain a two third majority and governs through piecemeal concessions to the opposition while its ethnic nationalism becomes subject to vocal criticisms by those calling for a secular Malaysia, (3) a transition to secular nationalism under the leadership of Anwar and his KeAdilan party (an unlikely near future prospect given that they would need to acquire a two third majority to rewrite the Constitution), or (4) disenchantment with both the ethnic and the secular alternatives that lead many Malays to join an Islamist PAS (or its equivalent) leading to a polarized and divided Malaysia. 24 R. Arakaki - MPSA 2008

Authors: Arakaki, Robert.
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competing against KeAdilan. This means that the two parties combined constitute a two front
attack on UMNO's electoral base. It should be noted that PAS's move to secular nationalism
does not necessarily mean the end of religious nationalism. If PAS continues to move in the
direction of secular nationalism, there may take place a schism giving rise to a new party calling
for an Islamic state.
Another blow to Malaysia' ethnic nationalism came from the Indian community. After
years of quiet acquiescence, Malaysia's ethnic Indians began to openly protest their subordinate
status (Brant 2008; Bendeich and Fernandez 2007). Open dissatisfaction took the form of the
human rights group, Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Force). In late 2007, hundreds of Indians
took to the streets protesting discrimination and the lack of job opportunities. Many Malaysian
Indians are disillusioned with the MIC and the National Front's ethnicity based politics, and want
instead a system that would give them equality (Ramirez 2008). Although it does not yet have a
formal rival, the emergence of Hindraf opens the way for such a possibility.
One of several possibilities lay in Malaysia's future: (1) the National Front will resort to
more authoritarian and/or fraudulent means to stay in power, (2) a contentious transition period
in which the National Front is no longer able to regain a two third majority and governs through
piecemeal concessions to the opposition while its ethnic nationalism becomes subject to vocal
criticisms by those calling for a secular Malaysia, (3) a transition to secular nationalism under
the leadership of Anwar and his KeAdilan party (an unlikely near future prospect given that they
would need to acquire a two third majority to rewrite the Constitution), or (4) disenchantment
with both the ethnic and the secular alternatives that lead many Malays to join an Islamist PAS
(or its equivalent) leading to a polarized and divided Malaysia.
24
R. Arakaki - MPSA 2008


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