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Economic Performance in Malaysia

Economic Performance in Malaysia
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An intellectual volume that describes the problems of economic development
The papers in this volume are the result of two conferences. In May 1985 a group of twelve scholars met in Bangkok, Thailand for three days of seminar articipation. Papers were read, commented upon, exchanged, and the participants returned to their respective home bases with a promise to reconvene with a rewritten set of apers. In February 1986 the authors of the papers in this volume met in Phuket, Thailand and repeated the process of intellectual and scholarly exchange. After revision and second and third and (sometimes more) thoughts and versions, the contributions assumed their present form.

There are several novel, unusual, and intellectually significant aspects of this project and these papers. First the project was conceived to throw new light on the mooted and tangled problems of economic development and cultural change between and among national entities, the usual units for social science comparison and theory building on this topic. In addition, the economic differentials among different groups within a national state was also a problem. When and how did different ethnic or “communal” categories or groups exhibit different economic performance over time, and why did glaring disparities of income and wealth continue to exist among such groups within a single nation-state? The Malay peninsula seemed, and is, a near laboratory situation for the exploration of these questions. Its history, demography, cultural variety, class structure, and communal differentials permit the focused use of controlled comparison which seeks to control as many variables in as many directions as possible. Furthermore, there is an excellent ethnographic record of the communities and peoples of the peninsula, well kept and detailed historical archives, and a continuous record of observers’ accounts since early colonial days.

The papers in this volume speak for themselves and make their own telling points at various levels of generality and from various academic viewpoints. Rice production and its special place in the rural economy of Malays is explored; the planned and actual effects of the national New Economic Policy on the different “races” of Malaysia is well analyzed; the role of local communities in political activity aimed at economic development is discussed; Chinese and Malay managers are compared on the value systems that guide their day to day activity; women’s roles in the new factories of an industrially growing Malaysia are studied and compared to women’s roles elsewhere; the growth and composition of Malay entrepreneurship is sociologically portrayed since 1957 independence; rubber small holders, the dominant peasant activity in Malaya, is placed in a firm historical context. These papers run a chain and compass across the frontier Malaysian and Southeast Asian studies. They add fresh knowledge, cogent insight, and empirical generalization important to both scholars and planners.

What are the larger implications and meanings of these contributions to the problems of cultural change and economic development and to the question of relative economic performance (within the same context) of different “communal” “ethnic” or “cultural and religious” groups? This sort of problem has been part of the social science inquiry almost from the inception of modern, empirically oriented systematic social research. And, the Malaysian case, when placed in historical, political, economic, and social context provides fresh and novel insights and responses to these ever recurring general conundrums of historical activity.

Table of Contents
Manning Nash
Chapter 1. Development of the Rice Sub-Sector in Peninsular Malaysia: Relative Economic Efficiency
Mokhtar Tamin
Chapter 2. The New Economic Policy and the Differential Economic Performance of the Races in West Malaysia, 1970-1985
G. Sivalingam
Chapter 3. Political Change and Economic Development at the Grassroots in Contemporary Rural Malaysia
Shamsul A. Baharuddin
Chapter 4. Value Systems of Malay and Chinese Managers: A Comparative Study
Nik A. Rashid Ismail
Chapter 5. Women’s Economic Role in Malaysia
Fatimah Daud
Chapter 6. The Development Of Malay Entrepreneurship Since 1957: A Sociological Overview
Mohd. Fauzi Haji Yaacob
Chapter 7. The Rubber Smallholding Sector: Ethnic Perspectives and Policy Implications
K T. Joseph
Chapter 8. Chinese Economic Activities In Malaya: A Historical Perspective
Khoo Kay Kim
About the Editor

MANNING NASH is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Golden Road to Modernity, Primitive and Peasant Economic Systems, and Machine Age Maya.

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