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Ethnic Relations and Nation-Building in Southeast Asia

Leo Suryadinata

Publication Year: 2004

Ethnic/racial relations have been a perennial theme in Southeast Asian studies. Current events have highlighted the tensions among ethnic groups and the need to maintain ethnic/racial harmony for national unity. This book analyses ethnic/race relations in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, with special reference to the roles of ethnic Chinese in nation-building. It brings together a group of established Southeast Asian scholars to critically examine some of the important issues such as ethnic politics, nation-building, state policies, and conflict resolution. These scholars of different ethnic origins present their own ethnic perspectives and hence make the book unique. This is the most up-to-date book on ethnic/racial relations with special reference to the ethnic Chinese in three Southeast Asian countries.

Published by: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute


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pp. 2-5

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Ethnic/racial relations have been a perennial theme in Southeast Asian studies, and current events have highlighted the tensions among ethnic groups and the need to maintain ethnic/racial harmony for nation unity. The Singapore Society of Asian Studies (SSAS) organized an international conference at the end of November 2002 focusing on an ...

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1. Chinese Ethnicity in New Southeast Asian Nations

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pp. 1-19

This topic is one that has been important for me all my life. The longer I live in this region, the more important this topic seems to be. In my experience, two of the most difficult words to understand are words such as “ethnic” and/or “race relations”, on the one hand, and “nation-building”, on the other. The important difference between the two is ...

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2. Unity in Diversity: Ethnic Chinese and Nation-Building in Indonesia

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pp. 20-44

When discussing the ethnic Chinese in Indonesia today, there is a tendency to differentiate between the period before and after the massive riots of 13–15 May 1998, which occurred primarily in Jakarta and Solo and in a number of other Indonesian cities.1 As a matter of fact this periodization holds for the country as a whole, as one of the major ...

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3. Pri and Non-Pri Relations in the Reform Era: A Pribumi’s Perspective

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pp. 45-65

This chapter examines ethnic relations — particularly Chinese and non- Chinese relations — in Indonesia from the pribumi ( pri )1 perspective. It begins with the changing attitude of the indigenous Indonesians towards the Chinese Indonesians following the May 1998 tragedy, from one of ...

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4. Racial Discrimination in the Indonesian Legal System: Ethnic Chinese and Nation-Building

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pp. 66-81

Racial discrimination against the ethnic Chinese manifested itself in colonial laws. These laws in different forms continued to be upheld after Indonesia’s independence and impeded national unity in Indonesia. This chapter examines the legal position of the Chinese in Indonesia since the Dutch colonial era with special reference to some of these laws made ...

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5. Differing Perspectives on Integration and Nation- Building in Malaysia

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pp. 82-108

As Dato Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad moves on to his final year as Prime Minister of Malaysia, a theme he has now come to express more regularly is that of nation-building and the need for greater integration of the ethnic groups. Responding to a question from an Indian journalist during his official visit to New Delhi ...

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6. Texts and Collective Memories: The Construction of “Chinese” and “Chineseness” from the Perspective of a Malay

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pp. 109-144

The present chapter, I believe, is one of the few attempts in the field of Malaysian studies, especially in the sub-field of ethnic relations in Malaysia, to make a comparison as to how Malay and Chinese ethnic identities have been formed in the Malaysian context, both from authority-defined (read: texts) and everyday-defined (read: memories) ...

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7. Nation-Building in Malaysia: Victimization of Indians? By P. RAMASAMY

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pp. 145-167

What is the nature and character of nation-building in Malaysia? To what extent have the different ethnic groups — Malays, Chinese, and Indians — developed a meaningful stake in the overall system? Does the current nation-building model engender positive and harmonious inter-ethnic relations between the three principal ethnic groups? By using the case ...

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8. The Majority’s Sacrifices and Yearnings: Chinese- Singaporeans and the Dilemmas of Nation-Building

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pp. 168-206

The history of the ethnic Chinese in Southeast Asia has been one of trials, tribulations, as well as of economic success amidst varying degrees of discrimination and acceptance in their adopted countries. Beginning with the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279), China’s interest towards Nanyang (South Seas) reached its high point during the reign of Ming ...

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9. Ethnic Relations in Singapore: Evidence from Survey Data

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pp. 207-219

Ethnic division is not a thing of the past. Indeed, in the last decade alone, we witnessed numerous high-profile examples of the revival, resilience, or renaissance of ethnicity, ethno-nationalism, and racism in various parts of the globe (cf. Fenton 1999, p. 212). In itself, there is nothing essentialist about — or inherent in — race or ethnicity that produces ...

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10. An Outsider Looking In at Chinese Singaporeans

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pp. 220-229

The term “outsider” requires some explanation. I have lived in Singapore for almost thirty-five years, but I will always be an outsider to Chinese culture. For one thing, I am illiterate. When I pass banners in Chinatown on the way to my office, I wonder what they are announcing. Not reading Chinese means that Chinese newspapers, banners, street signs, ...

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11. Ethnic Chinese and Nation- Building: Concluding Remarks

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pp. 230-240

The revival of ethnicity and the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern European states at the end of the last century have redrawn public attention to ethnic relations and nation-building again. However, in multi-ethnic Southeast Asia where nations are still in the making, the problems of ethnicity and nation-building have never been out of sight. ...

Index of Names

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pp. 241-244

Index of Subjects

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pp. 245-251

E-ISBN-13: 9789812305312
Print-ISBN-13: 9789812301826

Page Count: 251
Publication Year: 2004

Edition: 1