Research Activities
Comparison of ‘Bumiputra/Pribumi’ Policies in Malaysia and Indonesia: Affirmative Action as the Means for the Correction of Economic Gaps
2nd Meeting (Group 4)
■Speaker :Prof. Tsuyoshi Kato (Ryukoku University)
■Place :Common Research Room No. 4, 2nd Floor, Shieikan Building, Ryukoku University Fukakusa campus
■Date :November 12, 2005
■Number :05040202
Discussant: Dr. Chizuko Sato (PD Research Fellow, Afrasian Centre for Peace and Development Studies)

Prof. Kato discussed whether affirmative action, which is used to correct economic disparities, can also help to resolve conflicts, through a comparison of “Bumiputra/Pribumi” policies in Malaysia and Indonesia. These two countries differ significantly in terms of the frequency of violent ethnic conflicts. There are few such conflicts in Malaysia, where Bumiputra policies have been a “success.” In contrast, in Indonesia, where Pribumi policies have “failed,” there have been frequent incidents of violent ethnic conflicts including massacres of Chinese immigrants. This difference seems to be explained primarily by the differences between the two in matters such as the history of governmental policies, the ratio of population to resources, the rate of expansion of the economic pie, the population structure, and the government’s power base.

As for the future of affirmative action policies, Prof. Kato concluded that much would depend on whether European countries adopt such policies in order to diffuse the mounting dissatisfaction among their immigrant citizens against economic discrimination, and whether affirmative action at the global level, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) advocated by the United Nations that aim to reduce the number of the extremely poor population of the world by half by the year 2015, will prove successful.

Dr. Sato, the discussant, introduced the contents and characters of affirmative action policies in South Africa. She pointed out that affirmative action in South Africa has so far resulted in enriching the limited number of people who are politically well-connected and has not succeeded in improving the livelihoods of the vast majority of the poor population of the country.

In the discussion, the following themes were addressed: the relationship between economic development and the success or failure of affirmative action policies; the question of how to assess whether such policies were successful or not; and the importance of education in affirmative action policies.
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