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Inter-ethnic Restructuring in Malaysia, 1970-80: The Employment Perspective

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The New Economic Policy (NEP) was launched in 1970 in the aftermath of the racial riots of May 1969 which were widely held as an expression of the discontent felt among Malays vis-à-vis Chinese domination of the Malaysian economy. Under this new strategy, more rapid "Malaysianization" of society was planned and a commitment was made to "restructure" the economy so as to give Malays an economic status equivalent, or equal, to that of non-Malays. Efforts extended from increasing Malay equity participation in industry and upgrading the employment structure of Malays to poverty eradication, notably in low-income rural areas where most Malays live. The target date for completion of the process of restructuring was 1990 but before that a series of detailed plans mapped out evolving strategies to achieve a steady progression in the restructuring process. It is in this context that this paper sets out to examine the main trends in the employment structure over the past quarter of a century, within limits of data availability, to see to what extent ethnic restructuring has occurred and the nature of the changes that have taken place.

Affiliations: 1: Lecturer, Faculty of Economics & Administration, University of Malaya


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