The establishment of an ethnically based middle class in South Africa and Malaysia : context, policy and outcome

Van Wyk, Claude (2014-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The core question this study aims to address is whether a state-sponsored ethnic middle class in a dominant party political system premised on ethnic politics, will punish the ruling party by not according them their electoral vote. The latter core question stems from the conventional notion of a large middle class producing stronger democratic tendencies within a society. However, South Africa and Malaysia are dominant political party systems where politics is aligned along ethnic lines fundamentally because of the colonial and apartheid histories. Furthermore, the ethnic middle classes’ (Malays and Blacks) grew as a result of affirmative action policies implemented by the same political parties that dominated the political scene in the respective countries. An analytical framework of one-party dominance, ethnic politics and the composition of the state bureaucracy, is applied to analysing the Black and Malay middle classes’ behaviour in South Africa and Malaysia. This study looks at how the Black and Malay middle classes’ grew via state affirmative action policies implemented in public service employment, business and education; which are fundamental spheres for social upward mobility. This was done by looking at the implementation of the NEP in Malaysia between 1971 to 1990, and the implementation of BEE and employment equity in South Africa post-1994. South Africa and Malaysia’s colonial and apartheid histories created economic imbalances amongst majority and minority ethnicities primarily. Therefore, after independence and the inauguration of democracy the assumption of political power of ethnic majorities resulted in a need for the past’s economic imbalances to be addressed. Hence, affirmative action policies were implemented that would benefit the ethnic majority groupings (Malays and Blacks) where the electorate is highly polarised. Therefore, the outcome of this study suggests that because politics are aligned along ethnic lines under a climate where the ANC and the UMNO have political hegemony, the Malay and Black middle classes’ are unlikely to bite the hand that feeds it.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die kernvraag in hierdie studie wentel om die moontlikheid al dan nié dat ‘n staat-ondersteunde etniese middelklas in ‘n dominante-party politieke opset wat op etniese grondslag gebaseer is, die regerende party sal straf deur hul verkiesingstem te weerhou. Dit spreek die konvensionele siening aan dat ‘n groot middelklas demokratiese tendense in ‘n gemeenskap sal versterk. Nietemin, bestaan dominante-party stelsels in Suid-Afrika en Maleisië ooreenkomstig basies etniese riglyne as gevolg van hul onderskeie apartheid en koloniale geskiedenisse. Meer nog: die etniese middelklasse het hul bestaan te danke aan die regstellende aksie beleide wat ingestel is deur dieselfde politieke partye wat die politiek in die onderskeie lande domineer. Swart en Maleier middelklas-gedrag in Suid-Afrika en Maleisië is ge-analiseer volgens ‘n raamwerk van een-party oorheersing en die samestelling van die staatburokrasie. Hierdie studie fokus op die wyse waarop die Swart en Maleisiese middelklas deur middel van regstellende aksie in openbare dienste, besigheid en opvoeding – die fundamentele sektore vir die ontwikkeling van opwaartse mobiliteit in die samelewing – bevoordeel is. Dit is gedoen deur te kyk na die beleidstoepassing van die NEP in Maleisië tussen 1971 en 1990 en die toepassing van Swart Ekonomiese Bemagtiging (BEE) en gelyke werkgeleenthede in Suid-Afrika sedert 1994. Die grootste ekonomiese wanbalans tussen meerderheid- en minderheidsgroepe is hoofsaaklik die gevolg van Maleisië en Suid-Afrika se onderskeidelike geskiedenisse van koloniale en apartheidsregering. Onafhanklikheid en die instelling van ‘n demokratiese stelsel het dus aandag aan die ekonomiese wanbalans genoodsaak. Vanselfsprekend sou die regstellende aksie ter voordeel van die meerderheids- en etniese groepe (Maleiers en Swart mense), waar die elektoraat uiters gepolariseer is, werk. Die uitkoms van hierdie studie dui daarop dat weens die klimaat geskep deur die politieke hegemonie van die ANC en die UMNO, waar die politiek volgens etniese riglyne bedryf word, dit onwaarskylik is dat die Maleisiese en Swart middelklasse bevoordeling van die hand sal wys.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96100
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