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The Meaning and Measurement of Ethnicity in Malaysia: An Analysis of Census Classifications

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 March 2011

Extract

In Peninsular Malaysia, the conventional ethnic divisions are “Malay,” “Chinese,” “Indian,” and “Other.” At first glance, this classification seems to represent the popular conception of “race” (the everyday term) as well as the “official” definition. According to the Malaysian constitution, a Malay is a person who was born locally, habitually speaks Malay, follows Malay custom, and professes Islam (Mohammed Suffian bin Hashim 1976:291). The Chinese and Indian communities are supposed to consist of the descendants of immigrants from China and the Indian subcontinent. “Other” is a catchall category for the small number of Eurasians, Thais, Europeans, and other persons who do not fit into the three major categories.

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Copyright © The Association for Asian Studies, Inc. 1987

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