ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Viswanathan SelvaratnamSubscribe to Viswanathan Selvaratnam

From Servitude to Underclass

Malaysian Indians form 7% of Malaysia’s population and 80% of them are descendants of the British Empire’s “coolies.” Though an integral part of the nation’s polity, they are a marginalised underclass. The roots for this lie in colonial capitalism and the postcolonial state’s race-based policies, which displaced them from their traditional plantation and public sector work enclaves, into low-paying jobs and poor housing. Successive governments have failed to ameliorate their suffering, offering them only political expediency for electoral gains. The coolies’ plight can be resolved through a class-based policy strategy that addresses the root cause of their social and economic precarity.
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