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A. This is a series of interviews with experts on Asian affairs designed to strengthen our understanding of Asian people. Is your host on this transcribed series. Is there not an author on the ward winning broadcaster Ligue Graham. Here now is Mrs. Graham. I don't know whether it's comforting to know that there's racial violence and tension in other parts of
the world not only in this country but fundamentally I think it's very disturbing to think that it is as extensive as it is why people of different races cannot get along. I suppose remain the problem in the mystery of our time. Let's hope it is cleared up in some time. But if we study what is happening in other parts of the world perhaps it might provide some clues for us. One place where we thought racial tension was well contained and well-handled was in Malaysia. But Malaysia since May 13th 1969 has had a great deal of tension violence and bloodshed and the worst of it appears to be over it still continues in some form. Our guest on this program this edition of The Age of society presents is a man who was deep in the affairs of Malaysia. His name is Felix Galliano. Dr. Gagliano is Professor of Political Science at Purdue University. But he has lived in Malaysia one time for 64 to 65 and then he was there again 69
and that has been an area of interest to him and I think I'd like to begin by asking you as a guy why Malaysia why did you choose that as a subject for your doctoral dissertation. I think primarily the thing that fascinated me about Malaysia was the description I first arrived early in my acquaintance with the literature. Malaysia was an ethnographic museum it was a confluence of different cultures different races different religions diversity and the only rule about Malaysia. So it was a challenge for all of them. Theories which were current in the discipline of political science which is my field. There was a challenge to see of some of these notions could be tested in a real hot Talos cultural pluralism. And so I went there armed with a Ph.D. proposal and did the interview work and came back to the University of Illinois where I completed my Ph.D. we're doing a study of the socialization and recruitment processes in the Malaysian
political them and my interest has been sustained ever since and has grown more intense. What do you take review. I often have said that I would put upon my arrival in Malaysia and at the end of my first years residence that I probably took more things out of my head that I put in some of the preconceptions that I had gone on to Asia with simply didn't Stanley Burkle master of observation and so I found that my learning process was in some senses negative that that is to say that I corrected some Iranis notions that I had when I arrived. I think one of the other things that impressed me when I got there was how how much we have to learn and how little we really know is social about the nature of our political system how one solves these severe problems of ethnic pluralism. That's where the problems of integration with little scientists talk about as meaning a generalized problem of holding the system up
together simply preventing it from fragmenting and I think this is the most challenging problem we find in Malaysia. And if we can find some answers there I think then we'll have the insight to help us and all other parts of the world. Well when many people didn't know how many people had the idea that in Malaysia where you happen you begin the questioning you know what do you think of the population in Malaysia you approximate to the Malaysian population though about ten point one million people about 45 percent are my lay about 36 percent or chinese of the remaining two million about one million one point ninety eight. More precisely are India and Pakistan a cell and he is the remaining million are the most diverse collection of peoples the largest groups in that remaining million B and C diag Kadazan land
Miru and other ethnic groups. But many people then had the impression that in spite of this difference in population that is racial difference mainly between Malay and Chinese that it was all held together pretty well. And the shocking thing was to find out that it wasn't really and that was discovered in May of 69. Now is that one of the notions you took with you. This was working out well and you might find some help for our racial problems. Yes this is one of the things that fascinated me about Malaysia and I did go with the notion that things were quite harmonious and I did go looking for the mechanism of the glue if you like the cement that kept this plural society together. However the more I explored the record the historic record I found that no one really has to come to the conclusion that the Although Malaysian leaders are claim that racial harmony has characterized their multi-racial society. But unfortunately the historical record. When one looks at it and it has to come to the conclusion that
this is myth that actually there's been quite a continuous heritage of racial violence in Malaysia. If I just might mention one or two of the more serious ones at the end of World War 2 there was a violent racial score settling between Chinese guerillas and the Malays. I think the end of World War 2 soon after that in 1948 the 12 year long emergency broke out which was an insurgency supported by exclusively but primarily by the Chinese community. We had them Maria her TOG riots in nine Singapore. How do other ethnic trouble in 1064 in Singapore. We had tensions in Penang. If we look just mentioning these major projects before May 13th of 1969 one has to come to the conclusion that there has not been a continuous heritage of racial harmony but on the contrary quite a strong heritage of racial tension and overt racial violence.
So that was a myth after all but embraced by many people probably wishful thinking. Yes unfortunately I think that most cultures are our own Certainly but being included. I embrace myths and it's part of part of our political life. Myth and symbolism unfortunately are all rounders part of this very helpful. Unfortunately sometimes it gives us a delusion about reality. I think this is the case in Malaysia and I think this was one reason why Malaysian leaders were unprepared for the magnitude of the violence which broke out so unexpected respectively in May 13th of 969 just three days following their general elections on May 10th. Would you also place Malaysia on the map for us. It has some a laser has it in Southeast Asia it's a part of both the mainland and the archipelago Southeast Asia. It is in the Islamic cultural group giving it an affinity with the neighboring island states of the Indonesia and the Philippines and part. These have ethnic
background with the Philippines of course being primarily a Christian and or religious denomination now. But Malaysia then is a country that's divided. There is both an East Malaysia which is sort of the front door of Malaysia and then the West you know me East Malaysia and West Malaysia West Malays or should be they're called the front door East Malaysia includes the recently added states of Sabah and Sarawak separated by over 400 miles of the South China Sea. Added in 1953 to form the Federation of Malaysia on top of the older Federation of Malaya formed in one thousand fifty seven. And so we have a sea divided land a settlement pattern is mainly on the western side East Malaysia. Excuse me I'm getting myself because you thought the western side of West Malaysia on that is that western look Toral of the peninsula
which extends down from the mainland of Asia. The government now is that more or less an independent one. The British have been there and that part that will for a long time have made but will be pulling out shortly. Would you say enjoy a complete independence. As a nation or are considered a Federation still exists an independent nation. We have a Independence status coming to the peninsula and to the western portion of what is now a Malaysian peninsula Malayo 1057 and 1063 with the formation of of Malaysia in Singapore and Sabah and Sarawak you have the independence of Malaysia. Taking care of those additional remnants of British colonial colonial times. And so there is certainly the status of independence from 963 Singapore of course became independent in 1965. There are some who charge that the Malays are as in fact not independent. These usually are special
pleaders are claiming that there is a brand of neocolonialism which the British are attempting to transform from classical colonial times into a different new breed of colonialism. However I think Malaysia's independence is certainly not to be denied. Tunku Abdul Rahman the Malaysian prime minister however makes it perfectly clear that Malaysia is not neutral. Being neutral means being friends of the communist as the town coupe likes to put it rather than Malays are certainly not neutral it is than pro-Western. You see giving this charge than that here is a neo colonialist plot. This if you may recall is what's Sukarno former president Sukarno of Indonesia charge the Indonesian Federation was. Now unfortunately Malaysian and Indonesian relationships are much more cordial and much more intimate. But there is in Africa Asia the notion that because Malaysia still retains cordial links with its former colonial mother country.
But there is some suspicion about the independent status which Malays are in my view about Orange Order of nations aren't there who still maintain friendly relations with their fall maps let me say on the news exploded Is that what you will. Because they realize you can't throw out everything of the past and some of it you can make it may have been a cordial relationship surely and I guess the United States would be the best example of all that I think we would for Britain has good relations with many of her former colonies friends as surely and I think that this is almost inevitable because if you one does not want to break entirely with one's past that one had to then build upon the economic superstructure which in large portion was developed by the Colonial. The country the mother country and so very frequently we found that after a period even of the most hostile sometimes hostile relationships which lead to independence props and independence by war. As the Indonesian
case for example we then found that after the passage of some time the relationships with them become cordial again. Yes as if they relaxed and felt well now we are our own Matthew so we can afford to be friendly with our former masters. Now when we talk about the racial conflict problem in Malaysia where speaking are we the Malays against the Chinese. Are we speaking of non Malays one in order that you go ahead. It's about time I say I think that one could in simplistic terms say that the key the motif if you like of Malaysian politics is the tension between Marlay versus not more simplistically the lot between my life versus Chinese. The two largest groups but one must be very cautious too careful to remember that My Lai a Chinese cultural groups ethnic groups are not homogeneous and there's a great diversity within them. But in simplistic terms so
one can say that ultimately all political issues in the political arena reduce themselves to these two sides. Until my Laver says None not one way would you say then that all those who were not Malay are on the side of the Chinese I know I'm oversimplifying but could one say that. I mean are there any non Malays who are not Chinese who prefer to identify with a Malay. I think that one finds that the Indian community being the largest the other large group in addition to the Malayan Chinese there comprising about a million of the population that there is a tendency to consider themselves in the category of none more life. And so their finity would be more go with the Chinese than with the lie. If it came to that final ultimate choice one found in the violence of May 13 for example that the Indian and Chinese are rioters opposing my late rioters. So there was a kind of
breakdown. And in the most cruel ultimate to our lives. I think this is the basic dichotomy between my legs versus none alive. Apparently the it is the many people who control the government about the political power. Yet oddly enough and from what I understand the Chinese people have the economic power. You would think that the two would go hand in hand that one group could nab one and the other group the other. Yes it is one of the curious things about Malaysia and one of the key sources of its tension I think we have here is a curious pattern. One of the some of the third star of civil strife generally will tell us that a relative deprivation whether it's in fact the case or not if it's perceived relative deprivation that's the basic precondition of civil strife of any kind. And here in Malaysia we have a curious double perception of deprivation we find a model a community enjoying political power but feeling deprived on the economic on the economic variable. These are be the Chinese community. The Chinese community
on the other hand enjoying economic power as a community of greater substance than the malaria. Nevertheless feels deprived BS of it in the lake of unity on the political spectrum. And so here we have a very strong sense of relative deprivation perceived in each community among the Malays it's primarily economic among the Chinese it's primarily political and explosive situation. Yeah but the Malays can claim that this is their land I mean their sons of that soil they are indigenous to that country. The Chinese came from mostly China or did they settle someplace else and then come to this part of the land. Yes much of this is a controversial one it's not. Charlie sure the root of the record is completely. Again. One can claim for example that in some ultimate sense all peoples inhabiting the Malaysian peninsula Peninsula are immigrants and so us just then becomes a time period and the search for a cutoff point after what point shall we then say that
those who come later are immigrants in a larger signs they're all immigrants. And However I think what one can say with confidence that the Malays presume and get many to accept this presumption that they are bumiputra as they say or they are the indigenous sons of the soil. This is their perception of themselves and this is one which some others accept Chinese on the other hand will sometimes point to figures which indicate that some Malays have migrated. Through the peninsula down into Indonesia and other parts of the archipelago of Southeast Asia and then went back up to put inside of Malaysia. So many is currently living in Malaysia or in fact there are relatively recent migrants to the peninsula and south of the US the perception that the Malays are the sons of the soil. The Chinese are the immigrants who primarily came during the British period of domination in the late 19th century primarily.
It's interesting how people follow that line of thinking everywhere. Those who feel that they are superior whether it's United States or wherever it is and those who came later well they're just immigrants they're newcomers and they are not supposed to have as many rights. Q Is that human nature follows this very sad trend wherever it is located. Still what is it that the Chinese want. They have economic power they have the wealth. They feel that they have no representation politically I mean don't they ever like anybody. To Paul you meant what is their problem. Yes I think one has to be cautious again and remind oneself that the Chinese community is not homogeneous in the various the great spectrum of political view in that community. What can then decide whether simplistically speaking in generalization that the Chinese do perceive that they are dominated by the most community and that their share in political life is not equitable. These of the vanille community and I would like political equality are many of them would
and several of the things that concern them most are the special privileges of the Malays which are of sanctioned in the Constitution. This increasingly has come into the political arena as one of the most sensitive issues to be debated. It was one of the gravey issues which was discussed in the last election and that contributed to the climate of tension which about broke out into over racial violence. You see there is the perception among the Chinese that the Malays enjoy a permanent advantage in the political arena. If one looks out the actual political situation one is forced to come to the conclusion that the Malaysian political setting is and always has been a model a political setting. If one looks at the symbols of political life one is forced to the conclusion that the Malays the community enjoys a virtual monopoly on the symbols in the framework. The national anthem for example is
not a beautiful traditional Malays song. The Malays sultans are still going to have a prerogatives under the Constitution. These are my lay leaders there. I mean the little leaders enjoy Parag at those that are both secular and religious. Many Chinese feel that they are not allowed to symbolically share in a new My Lais and identity because of these Malays symbols which they feel older are not sufficiently sufficiently universal in general so that they can also share your feeling part of Malaysia. Many Chinese will take this point of view. I must go carefully said the survey. Not all. Many of them are in the Malaysian Chinese Association have been willing to work on to these these in this framework with the United Malaya nationalist organization playing the dominant role in a curious party framework called the Alliance which is really a condominium of
three basic communities the Malayan Indian Congress a plane a small third partner role. The Malaysian Chinese Association playing a secondary role in the United Malays nationalist organization plane. A clearly the dominant political role. What role have communism played in Neath the violence. Things in Malaysia is so anti communist It must feel threatened by communist groups. Well I think one can answer this by saying I'm gonna do so distinguishing between perception and between fact. I think it was. One can note that the Malaysian leaders were convinced when the violence broke out that the Communists were behind it and often this will be called the Chinese Communist. For example Tunku Abdul Rahman in his recent book May 13th before and after it says ALL THINGS CONSIDERED things being very complicated but nevertheless in the last analysis there can be only one answer for the cause of the violence.
The Chinese communists. We convince the other Malaysians not been so categorical. And I said well I'm a communist penetration into an opposition party is about the communists were caught off guard by the violence of the Malaysian officials Well there has always been trouble on the on the borders and the whole post were the real ale. Malaysian Thai border and certainly on the Indonesian Malaysian border during the confrontation and some continue still exactly that that this is difficult to factually in my own view is that it is a communist and not nearly so great some of Malays to think. Final question the British I guess I guess old again 917. What would you make a prediction as to the future of the nation. Will she be unprotected against people
that she feels are enemies will she be able to cope with the situation she had to become a military dictatorship. What will be the end. My own view is that Malaysia has four basic alternatives and I certainly wouldn't want to make a firm prediction but may I just quickly outline what I think are the possibilities. One would be for continuation of the current national operations Council in Malaysia and other would be a return to parliamentary democracy. The third possibility would be the basic egalitarian reform of the Malaysian political system. A less likely possibility. A fourth possibility. Unfortunately coming now into serious consideration in Malaysian history for the first time is the possibility of a military coup. The Malaysian military is expanding very rapidly. The British party the British model is being superseded by Indonesian anti a model Malaysia is raising a strong standing army amidst racial tensions and the prospect must be entertained
and seriously considered for the first time. Well I think I you know I think this is all most relevant although that thousands of miles away from the United States I do see what the political taint how races get out get along how they may read nobbut or not resolve it. And I appreciate very much your giving us the background in your views on this program. Now I think that our guest has been Dockett Phoenix Gagliano who is professor of political science at Purdue University. Thank you very much and good luck. Thank you. That concludes tonight's edition of the Asia Society prisons with league rail. This series comes to us through the cooperation of the Asia Society. If you would like to comment on tonight's program or would like further information about the society and how you can participate in its many interesting activities please write to Mrs. Graham at W NYC New York City 100 0 7 and make a note to join us again next week at this time for another edition of the Asia
Society resents. Her. This is the national educational radio network.
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Asia Society presents
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Asia Society presents is a series of programs from WNYC and The Asia Society. Through interviews with experts on Asian affairs, the series attempts to strengthen listeners understanding of Asian people and ideas. Episodes focus on specific countries and political, cultural, and historical topics.
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Global Affairs
Race and Ethnicity
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Host: Graham, Leigh
Producing Organization: WNYC
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-6-46 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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