Malaysia and Singapore, two nations embracing multiculturalism within the perimeters of a post colonial mindset. Both nations exhibit a post colonial mindset in their government structure. This can be referred to as racial governmentality, and is defined as a pressing issue for Malaysia and Singapore by Goh and Holden in Race and Multiculturalism in Malaysia and Singapore (2009). This ideology results in the lack of recognition for minorities living within Malaysia and Singapore, and allows the majority ethnicities to thrive. Through the examples provided by Goh and Holden, the forgotten people of Malaysia and the issues they face are exemplified.
Racial Governmentality is defined as a system that allows one race – amongst others within a nation- to thrive whilst the others are left without recognition, representation, and very few resources. Goh and Holden highlight the origins of racial governmentality in Malaysia by explaining the way in which the British segregated the population socially, economically and geographically. The Chinese were “placed as commercial middlemen”, whereas the Malay’s were “confined to the fields” and Indians “imported as municipal; and plantation laborers”. (Holden, Goh. 5) Goh and Holden highlight this societal organization as important pre-text to explaining the way racial governmentality operates today. This organization and separation of races highlights the post colonial mindset that Influenced this social separation and categorization. This organization lead to the “hardening of racial categories” (Holden, Goh, 5) which is what contributes to Malaysia’s current system of racial identification. Malaysian citizens have the option of identifying as Chinese, Malay, Indian or Other. This system of organization excludes the mired of other ethnicities that inhabit Malaysia, specifically the native peoples of the land – the Orang Asal. The exclusion of the Orang Asal within Malaysia’s system of identification highlights the lack of recognition of indigenous peoples – a expected effect of colonial and post colonial attitudes. The marginalization of the Orang Asal exemplifies the significance of racial governmentality and its roots in colonialism as Malaysia gives priority to other ethnicities, even over the native people of the land.
Goh and Holden’s points on racial govermentality illustrate the everlasting impacts of colonialism and exemplify the meaning of a post colonial society through their analysis of Malaysia and Singapore’s establishment and organization. Furthermore, Malaysia’s system of identification highlights the way in which racial governmentality operates and results in the oppression of other races.
Goh, Daniel P.S. and Holden, Philip. Race and Multiculturalism in Malaysia and Singapore. New York, Routledge, 2009.