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The state of discrimination in Malaysia

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Article 8 of Malaysia’s Federal Constitution provides that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law, and that discrimination is prohibited based on religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender.

But is this the reality in the lives of Malaysians? The results of the State of Discrimination Survey run by Architects of Diversity Malaysia found that 64% of Malaysians have experienced some form of discrimination in the past 12 months.

Here to share more about the findings of that survey and how we can better address discrimination is Jason Wee, co-founder of Architects of Diversity Malaysia.

Main findings
  • The majority of Malaysians (64%) reported having experienced some form of discrimination in the past 12 months

  • Discrimination was primarily experienced on social media (32%) and at the workplace while looking for jobs (30%) and at work (29%).

    • Indians reported having experienced higher levels of discrimination than their peers when applying for jobs (51%), when looking for housing (35%) and when dealing with the police (21%)

  • Among those who reported having experienced discrimination at work, work conditions (62%) and pay (53%) were the related domains.

    • East Malaysians were more likely to experience discrimination related to work conditions (72%)

    • Malay (56%) and Indians (60%) were more likely to report having experience pay-related discrimination than Chinese (41%) and other indigenous (51%) peers

  • Among those who reported having experienced discrimination, the majority (55%) did not report it.

    • Among those who did report their experience, employers (14%) or law enforcement (11%) were the most popular reporting lines

    • Among those who did not report their experience, respondents said they chose not to report mainly due to having no evidence or difficulty producing evidence (32%) and high barriers in terms of time or money (32%)

  • Among major religious groups – Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus – each felt that members of their own groups experienced the most amount of discrimination

    • 59% of Muslim respondents felt members of their own religious group experienced a lot or some discrimination, with that figure being 63% among Buddhist respondents, 76% among Christian respondents and 81% among Hindu respondents

    • Most were unaware about discrimination relating to animists (beliefs of many indigenous groups), with 44% opting to respond with “don’t know”

  • Discrimination literacy and agreement is generally low

    • For instance, less than half (49%) of respondents felt that being forced to not wear religious clothing at work is considered discrimination, while 37% felt it was not considered discrimination.

    • Forms of behaviour with the highest rating in being considered discrimination were being called a racial slur online or physically (63%) and being unable to apply for a job due to specific language preferences (63%)

  • Malaysians were generally split when asked about their satisfaction with the current government’s initiatives to solve discrimination: 45% said they were very satisfied or slightly satisfied, while 40% said they were slightly dissatisfied or not satisfied at all.

    • When asked what the government should do to solve discrimination, answers included creating a law for discrimination and raising awareness of discrimination

READ MORE:  Adakah Malaysia menjadi sebuah negara dipengaruhi konservatisme, fanatik agama serta mendiskriminasi?

Produced and presented by: Lim Sue Ann

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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