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Ethnicity, Equity and Conflict in Multi-Ethnic Countries: A Case Study of Malaysia


  • Edmund Terence Gomez


This study assesses two hypotheses on the causes of ethnic conflict. The first argues that in democratic multi-ethnic countries where minority communities dominate the economy, if ethnonationalist politicians mobilise the support of economically impoverished majority groups, racial conflagration will occur. An authoritarian system is therefore required until parity in equity ownership is achieved among all communities. The second hypothesis posits that daily civic engagement between ethnic groups helps contain racial conflict. What divides nations is the divisive politics of ethnicity by self-serving politicians. These hypotheses are tested through a study of multi-ethnic and authoritarian Malaysia.

Suggested Citation

  • Edmund Terence Gomez, 2008. "Ethnicity, Equity and Conflict in Multi-Ethnic Countries: A Case Study of Malaysia," Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, Institute of Asian Studies, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 27(1), pages 37-66.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:soaktu:v:27:y:2008:i:1:p:37-66

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