A Costly Affirmation: Exploring Malaysia's One-Sided Domestic Security Dilemma


The Barisan Nasional’s construction and implementation of ideational and material security apparatuses has created a one-sided internal security dilemma in Malaysia. This paper argues that the noble objective of promoting Malay interests has been transformed to the venal objective of securing Barisan’s political perpetuity that is being pursued under the pretext of achieving inter-ethnic parity within a pluralistic Malaysia. The government’s quest for a bumiputra-imagined nation gave birth to affirmative action policies that have often worked at the expense of all other Malaysian ethnic groups, particularly the Chinese and Indian-Malaysians. For better or worse, Malaysia’s national security is conceived and developed on the basis of bumiputra ethnicity. In other words, Malaysia’s national security is designed to counter mainly the insecurities confronting the Malays, thereby generating a one-sided internal security dilemma.

Asian Affairs: An American Review