Millennium Post

Malaysian politics hit by ‘Chinese tsunami’

Malaysia’s Chinese minority has for decades gone about its business and left leadership to a Malay-dominated regime, but in weekend polls they deserted it in what the premier called a ‘Chinese tsunami’.

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s term has since gone viral, touching off a debate over whether Sunday’s bitter election battle presages a deepening divide between increasingly assertive urban Chinese and the country’s majority Muslim Malays.

‘Overall, the results show a trend of polarisation which worries the government,’ Najib said after declaring victory Monday, ruefully noting a ‘tsunami from the Chinese community.’

Malaysia has enjoyed relative harmony among its main ethnicities for decades under the authoritarian template of the Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition, but the mere mention of racial tension remains a sensitive issue.

The political and economic system is built on decades-old policies that prop up Malays to prevent dominance by the Chinese, who immigrated under British colonialism and control much of the economy despite making up just a quarter of the 28-million population.

The ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which has towered over Barisan and the country since independence in 1957, routinely refers to deadly 1969 racial riots as a warning against threatening this status quo.
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