China’s pervasive influence in Malaysia - SupChina

China’s pervasive influence in Malaysia

Asia Times has a story on the history and current state of China’s presence in Malaysian politics, beginning in 1974 when the Southeast Asian country normalized relations with China. The move helped the then prime minister Tun Abdul Razak and his ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO) “boost its legitimacy and popularity with Malaysians of Chinese descent,” many of whom were resentful about the Malaysian New Economic Policy, an affirmative action measure introduced in 1969 that benefited Malays at the expense of ethnic Chinese and Indian citizens.

Asia Times says that “Tun Abdul’s son, current Prime Minister Najib Razak, is playing the same political card” by encouraging close political and commercial ties with China, but that this relationship is “being politicized by the political opposition.” One example is criticism about a Chinese-funded real estate deal from former premier Mahathir bin Mohamad, who quit UMNO last year. In January, Mohamad wrote, “Much of the most valuable land will now be owned and occupied by foreigners… In effect [it] will become foreign land.”

Jeremy Goldkorn

Jeremy Goldkorn worked in China for 20 years as an editor and entrepreneur. He is editor-in-chief of SupChina, and co-founder of the Sinica Podcast.