5 Men & Ideas
Building National Identity

By Hng Hung Yong
April 2004
Pelanduk Publications
ISBN: 967-978-887-3
178 pages, Illustrated, 7" x 9 "
$27.50 Paper Original

Rapid economic growth over the last two decades has blinded the nation to the growing radical polarization that has been taking place in the community, especially among the young. One generation of Malaysians has grown up conscious of the fact that their place in society depends to a large extent on whether they are Malay or non-Malay, bumiputra or non-bumiputra.

Almost half a century after Merdeka, the problem of race continues to dominate national life. This time, however, the blame cannot be wholly attributable to history. Much of it has been of the nation's own doing. Instead of building common ground, policies have had the effect of alienating the races from each other. A more determined commitment to the building of a single nationhood for the entire people is needed. The allegiance of the young in particular must be won over to the ideals of a Bangsa Malaysia.

But what is the promise of Bangsa Malaysia? What is its identity? History has established some parameters for the definition of this identity. This book explores one defining idea contributed by each of the following five leaders to the formulation of a national identity: Dato' Onn Ja'afar (1946-1951), Tunku Abdul Rahman (1951-1970), Tun Abdul Razak (1970-1976), Tun Hussein Onn (1976-1981) and Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad (1981-2003).

Asian Studies, Politics

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