Southeast Asian politics has long been characterized by persistent ethnic fault-lines, manifested in some cases by uneasy political accommodations, and in others by violent confrontations. But these ethnic fault-lines are generating new fragilities and tensions, which are in turn demanding new responses from governments. This can perhaps be exemplified by two cases: firstly the change from secessionist conflict between Indonesia and Aceh to a ‘peace’ which is characterized by criminal violence within Aceh; and secondly the recent large-scale protests in Malaysia by Malay workers and by Indian Malaysians, both of whom had previously been generally acquiescent to the ‘semi-democratic’ rule of the dominant Malay elite. Such contemporary political tensions do indeed relate to ethnic identities which have roots in colonial and precolonial pasts, but the tensions appear in new forms in response to the contemporary insecurities and interests influencing Southeast Asian politics.
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- Ethnic and Nationalist Politics in Southeast Asia
- Macmillan Education UK
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- Chapter 9