“Bangsa Malaysia”


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In this monograph, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the fourth and seventh Prime Minister of Malaysia, speaks on the origins of the concept of Bangsa Malaysia, and its definition. His keynote speech is commented on by a panel of distinguished academics. Also included in this volume are three papers on Bangsa Malaysia by Malaysian academics Dr Ariffin Omar, Dr DS Ranjit Singh, and Dr K Nadaraja. For students of national identity, ethnic relations, Asian leadership, and Malaysian studies, this book is a rich reference, offering multiple perspectives, historical context, and research-based opinions.

The notion of Bangsa Malaysia was introduced in 1991 by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the country’s fourth Prime Minister, as part of his Vision 2020, to bring about greater integration among the various ethnic groups within the country. The idea was to create an inclusive national identity for all inhabitants of Malaysia, thus abandoning the National Culture Policy that asserted a Malay ethnic national identity.

However, Bangsa Malaysia has generated a multitude of reactions. Some felt that the concept is similar to the concept ‘Malaysian Malaysia’ that was proposed by Lee Kuan Yew when Singapore was still part of Malaysia. Some worry that Bangsa Malaysia will dilute the position held by the Malays. Others however, are more positive to the idea, as it means acknowledgement of the ethnicities as partners of equal class in building a nation. Even so, questions with regard to language, culture, and religion persist.

In this discourse, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad himself explains the motive and meaning of Bangsa Malaysia, especially in the context of the country’s overall development. His keynote address is followed by a panel discussion in which Professor Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri, Dr Chandra Muzaffar, Dr KJ John, and Mr Alvin Goh, lend their views on the topic and attempt to answer the big question: is Bangsa Malaysia the much-needed solution to the problem of national unity in Malaysia?

This volume includes also research papers on national unity by Dr Ariffin Omar, Dr DS Ranjit Singh, and Dr K Nadaraja.