Assistant professor department of international relations uniersity of karachi university of karachi pakistan

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Ethnic Composition of Malaysia

Malaysia is a plural society of many ethnic groups. In western Malaysia, the largest ethnic groups are the Malays, Chinese and Indians. In Sabah and Sarawak, the number of ethnic groups is even bigger including among them the Kadazan, Bajau, Bidayuh, Iban, Kayan, Kenyah and Murut. Moreover, people of Sarawak comprise 30 ethnic groups while in Sabah 32 ethnic groups speaking about 100 dialects.3 These groups are categorized into Bumiputra and non- Bumiputra. The term Bumiputra (son of the soil) was used after the formation of Malaysia in 1963, to include the indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak. The difference between them is often aligned to political, economic, cultural and social differences. In terms of size of the group, the Bumiputra far outnumber the non- Bumiputra. The Bumiputra constituted 57.8 per cent (Malay 49.0 per cent and other Bumiputra 8.8 percent) followed by Chinese 24.9 per cent, Indians 7.0 per cent, others 3.1 per cent.4

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