Lynden Pung

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science


Kim Richard Nossal




The social, economic, and cultural aspects of the "Malay problem" has received attention at the expense of political issues. There are glaring differences in perspectives on the sources of the Malay problem; however, the debate on the Malay problem has tended to attribute the source of "Malay weakness" to Malay culture or personality. As a consequence, there is a huge gap in the literature on the politics of the Singapore Malays; this thesis will focus on the political aspects of the Singapore Malay community. Whereas the administration views Malay cultural values as an obstruction to the acculturation of the Singapore Malays with "modem" functional values which encourage the acquisitive spirit and subsequently, the aspiration for economic success, the Malays argue that the problems afflicting the community extends into the political sphere. For the Malays, political issues are as significant and pressing as are the non-political aspects of their relative social, economic, and political weakness. This thesis examines the nature of the political difficulties afflicting the Singapore Malays in light of these conflicting views on the issue, by placing the study within the context of the political environment in order to explicate the impact and implications of that environment on the Malay problem. Both the political environment as well as the willingness and ability of the Malays to seize opportunities provided by that environment, are key variables in the issue of Malay political marginality.

McMaster University Library

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