KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 — National identity and what it means to be Malaysian hold different meanings to Malays and non-Malays, according to a research paper sponsored by the CIMB Foundation.
The study by Oxford University found that while respondents from the three major ethnic groups (Malay, Chinese, Indian) identified more strongly with their ethnic identities rather than a national one, Malay respondents believed that there was little difference between “being Malaysian” and being Malay.
It added that integration efforts by the government, such the 1Malaysia concept, may not be successful in its intention as different ethnic communities had varying ideas as to what being Malaysian was.
“Speaking in terms of being Malaysian to a Malay audience may not promote integration, and could potentially hinder it. More research is necessary to replicate and further investigate the relationships between these variables,” it added.
By associating the Malaysian identity with being “Malay”, the researchers said that this could in the long run create “negative consequences”, as non-Malays may then view their contributions to the national identity as being disregarded.
The study added that by assuming the Malaysian identity as being Malay, there was also a risk of it being perceived as an exercise in assimilation rather than integration.
In its recommendation, the study said that the government should rethink its 1Malaysia policy.