The Malay Dilemma
The front cover of The Malay Dilemma: With a New Preface
|Author||Mahathir bin Mohamad|
|Publisher||Asia Pacific Press|
At the time of publication, Mahathir had just lost his parliamentary seat, been expelled from the ruling party UMNO and Malaysia had recently been rocked by the racial riots later known as the May 13th Incident. The book analyses Malaysian history and politics in terms of race, and posits the following basic positions:
- The Malay race are the indigenous people (bumiputras) of Malaysia.
- The sole national language is the Malay language and all other races are to learn it.
- The tolerance and non-confrontational nature of the Malays has allowed them to be subjugated in their own land by the other races with the collusion of the British.
- A program of affirmative action is required to correct Malaysian Chinese hegemony in business.
The dilemma thus, was whether Malays should accept this governmental aid — and Mahathir's position was that they should.
Prone to sweeping statements about other races, such as describing Jews as hook-nosed, the book entrenched Mahathir's image as a Malay ultra. However, Mahathir also dissects the multiple failings of his own race, and the book was intended as a solution leading away from violence towards a harmonious, integrated Malaysia (albeit one where political and economic power is firmly concentrated in the hands of the Malays).
Mahathir was readmitted to UMNO in 1972 and became Prime Minister of Malaysia in 1981, and in time most of the policies suggested in the book were indeed adopted by the Malaysian government, most notably in the Malaysian New Economic Policy. The dilemma was revisited in 2000-2002 by Mahathir and his successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who now argued that Malays were well on the way to catching up, and that they should now be weaned away from the crutches that had allowed them to compete.
Table of contents
- What Went Wrong?
- The Influence of Heredity and Environment on the Malay Race
- The Malay Economic Dilemma
- The Meaning of Racial Equality
- The Bases of National Unity
- Rehabilitation of the Malays and the Malay Dilemma
- The Malay Problem
- Code of Ethics and Value Systems of the Malays
- Communal Politics and Parties
- Malaysia and Singapore
Criticism against the book
In the preface of the book's 1st edition, its British publisher casts doubt on the accuracy of Mahathir's assumptions and facts. Mahathir has been rightly criticised for the lack of documentary evidence to buttress his many arguments and conclusions. His assertions and assumptions were based on his personal observations and experiences, with no empirical data to support them.
- Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad: On Jews
- M. Bakri Musa (1999). The Malay Dilemma Revisited - Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia. Gilroy, CA: Merantau Publishers.