Malays, too, feel government unfair to them, says study

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KUALA LUMPUR: It is not just the Chinese and Indians, even Malays feel they are not being fairly treated by the government, according to an Oxford University study.

A large number of Malays surveyed for a study did not think economic policies were very equitable and about half of the samples from each ethnic group were highly dissatisfied with their economic standing relative to the other groups.

This is one of the findings of a study funded by CIMB Foundation. The study, carried out in Peninsular Malaysia in September-October last year, involved 503 Malays, 500 Chinese and 501 Indians in all the states.

The study titled Attitudes and Ethnoreligious Integration: Meeting the Challenge and Maximizing the Promise of Multicultural Malaysia, was done by Dr Ananthi Ramiah, Professor Miles Hewstone and Dr Ralf Wölfer.

One of the questions asked in the study was about perceived fairness of government policies and perceived discrimination.

The study found that, on the whole, Malays, Chinese and Indians did not feel satisfied about their group’s economic position compared with the other ethnic groups’ economic positions.

There was no significant difference between rural and urban respondents in their perceptions of relative deprivation about their respective outgroups.

The study found that 51.1% of Malays were highly dissatisfied with their economic position compared with the Chinese. It found that 49.3% of Malays were highly dissatisfied when compared with the Indians.

It found that 49.2% of the Chinese and 53.9% of the Indians felt highly dissatisfied about their position compared with the Malays.

Also, 51.9% of Indians felt highly dissatisfied about their position compared with the Chinese. However, only 31% of Chinese felt highly dissatisfied about their position compared with the Indians.

“This is a noteworthy finding because it indicates that, in general, about half of the population (based on the sample estimates that we have) are dissatisfied with their economic standing relative to their outgroups, and such dissatisfaction can be detrimental to efforts to create a more harmonious and well-integrated society,” the study’s authors said.

Although two-thirds of Malays felt government policies were not very fair, many more Malays reported that the policies of the government were very fair (33.5%), compared with the Chinese (7.2%) and the Indians (8.4%).

Malays reported that their interests were protected and they had more opportunities to succeed.

“We also found many Chinese and Indians (and to a lesser extent Malays) reported that their group was highly discriminated against, while relatively few people felt that they personally were highly discriminated against,” the study’s authors said.

The Malays were also significantly more comfortable receiving special privileges compared with the comfort expressed by Chinese and Indians with the Malays receiving special privileges.

The Indians were more comfortable with the Malays receiving special privileges than the Chinese were.