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The People of Malaysia, Social Issues

New Economic Policy, social differences, small plots, NEP, estate farms

Poverty remains fairly widespread in Malaysia, and the distribution of income is uneven, especially in rural areas. Ethnic Chinese and Indians typically predominate in estate agriculture, which brings higher incomes than the activity of most bumiputras, who generally work as laborers on estate farms, raise crops on small plots, or practice subsistence agriculture (farming to meet family or village needs rather than for profit). In general, ethnic Chinese play the major role in both the rural and urban sectors of the economy, and this is an issue of contention for many bumiputras. In 1970 the government introduced the New Economic Policy (NEP) to try to redress these economic differences and eliminate the relationship between ethnicity and income. The 20-year period of the NEP produced some improvements, including a reduction of people living at or below poverty level, from 52 percent in 1970 to 17 percent in 1990. However, economic and social differences among groups, especially those between Malay and Chinese, remain a major problem for Malaysia. In 1991 the government introduced a successor to the NEP, the New Development Policy (NDP).

Article key phrases:

New Economic Policy, social differences, small plots, NEP, estate farms, poverty level, laborers, NDP, Indians, distribution of income, farming, ethnicity, successor, crops, rural areas, village, major role, Malaysia, percent, improvements, economy, major problem, relationship, government, family, activity, groups, year period, profit


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