Department of Development Studies (FEAUM)
The Political Economy of Affirmative Action Regime Formation: Malaysia and South Africa
Dr Lee Hwok Aun
on 4th November 2011 (Friday) – 10.00 – 11:30am
at Conference Room (3rd Floor), Postgraduate Building**, Faculty of Economics & Administration, University of Malaya.
Malaysia and post-apartheid South Africa stand out as middle-income countries that implement affirmative action (AA) in favour of a majority population group. However, the institutional framework and specific AA policies contain fundamental differences, having emerged out of contrasting political economic situations. This paper discusses the formation of affirmative action regimes in Malaysia and South Africa, focusing on Constitutional provisions for AA, the structure and inter-racial dynamics of political transition, and inter-racial socioeconomic disparity. Malaysia’s Constitution premises AA on a group’s special position, while South Africa’s refers to the concept of unfair discrimination. Malaysia intensified AA amid continuation of a political order and consolidation of executive power, while South Africa democratized and devolved power while promulgating majority-favouring AA. The demographic minority held relatively less economic power in Malaysia than in South Africa. Operationally, AA in Malaysia is characterized by discretionary decision-making by a dominant executive branch of government, whereas South Africa has followed a more legislative route involving negotiation and enforcement of statutes and codes. The instruments of AA differ, with Malaysia oriented toward group quotas or racially-exclusive programs under centralized authority, against South Africa’s statutory requirements to meet targets for equitable group representation under less centralized oversight. Characteristics of Malaysia’s and South Africa’s AA regimes raise implications regarding policy designs, constraints and country specificity.
ALL ARE WELCOME
The paper is available from the author upon request.
** It is a bit tricky to find this building. Try viewing the satellite image http://tinyurl.com/3dw6thb. The postgrad building is the V-shaped one.
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