Managing Ethnic Relations Using Local Wisdom Approaches: The Case Of Malaysia


  • Mohamad Zaini Bin Abu Bakar


In the period of the 20th century we witnessed the new shape of the pattern of Malaysian society. The British developed the peninsular Malaysian economy on a pattern based on the production of raw materials for export such as rubber, timber, oil-palm, iron ore and tin, while foodstuffs and manufactured goods were imported from the metropolitan centres. Ironically, it has been argued that the local Malay population for political, cultural and other reasons was not interested in selling its labour force in these export oriented industries and therefore cheap immigrant labourers from China and India were brought in large numbers. Thus a multi-ethnic society was created; the Malays, the Chinese, the Indians and others working in different jobs but living side by side in apparent harmony. One of the least known developments of the period was the growing political consciousness among both the indigenous and the immigrant population. Islamic reformists (a West Asian and Indian phenomenon) and Chinese revolutionary ideas found enthusiastic support among segments of the people here. Most of the Malay reformists confined their campaign to the press and the few religious schools, better known as Sekolah Pondok (or Huts School) which they had established. Until now most Malaysians have categorised themselves and others by communal categories, which usually take preference over class, regional, and employment basis, among other things. To explore and identify these communal issues we shall look at and examine some of its indicators such as the profile of ethnicity, inter-communal relations, organisation of communal politics, the use of symbols system, the language issue, and the economics growth and its distribution. This paper, which is the analysis of the Malaysian style of the conflict management process, will survey the methods and techniques used to overcome the problem. This is necessary if we are to understand the nature of the conflict management process in Malaysia. This paper will look at how the government institutionalised and socialised the local wisdom values (particularly at the community level) as a mechanism in conflict management and how it has developed. Management of the conflict and promotion of ethnic unity as well as national integration cannot be achieved just by ad hoc experiments but through careful planning in the various aspects of the social life of society.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n19p330


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How to Cite

Abu Bakar, M. Z. B. (2014). Managing Ethnic Relations Using Local Wisdom Approaches: The Case Of Malaysia. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(19), 330. Retrieved from