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Multiculturalism in Malaysia and Singapore: Contesting models

Noor, Noraini M. and Leong, Chan-Hoong (2013) Multiculturalism in Malaysia and Singapore: Contesting models. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 37 (6). pp. 714-726. ISSN 0147-1757

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Malaysia and Singapore are good examples of multicultural societies albeit with different acculturation ideologies. Both countries comprise three main ethnic groups but in diametrically opposite proportion. In Malaysia, 50.4% of the population is Malay, 23.7% Chinese, 11%indigenous peoples, 7.1% Indian, and 7.8% other races. In Singapore, the ratio is 74.1% Chinese, 13.4% Malay, 9.2% Indian and 3.3% other races. Due to its colonial past, “ethnicity” has been the central policy issue in Malaysia and remains so up to this day. The dominance of communal politics can be understood in Stephan and Stephan’s (2000) model of integrated threat theory. In Singapore, the city-state does not believe in affirmative action and it prefers to manage cultural identities on the basis of a multicultural ideology (Berry & Kalin,1995; Berry, Kalin, & Taylor, 1977). In this article, multiculturalism is used to refer to public policies carried out by the two countries to manage their plural societies. We will discuss the development of the multicultural models that have evolved in the two countries. While Malaysia’s model of multiculturalism is based on policies that have been instituted to manage inter-group tensions, prevent violence, and pursue social justice between the ethnic groups as a result of its past, Singapore’s model is guided by pragmatic realism and market fundamentals associated with the needs of a global city. Both models will face challenges in the coming years as they each adapt to the seismic shifts in the geo-economic landscapes.

Item Type: Article (Journal)
Additional Information: 1099/33610
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF636 Applied psychology
Kulliyyahs/Centres/Divisions/Institutes (Can select more than one option. Press CONTROL button): Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences > Department of Psychology
Depositing User: Professor Noraini M. Noor
Date Deposited: 23 Dec 2013 09:22
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2014 11:32
URI: http://irep.iium.edu.my/id/eprint/33610

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