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Tamils and the Haunting of JusticeHistory and Recognition in Malaysia's Plantations$
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Andrew C. Willford

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838942

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838942.001.0001

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An Emergent Betrayal

An Emergent Betrayal

Tamils and the Development of Selangor’s Plantations

(p.20) 2 An Emergent Betrayal
Tamils and the Haunting of Justice

Andrew C. Willford

S. Nagarajan

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter analyzes the transformation of the plantation industry in Malaysia's commercial heartland, primarily in the state of Selangor, to understand how the bureaucratization of ethnic entitlement affected the politics of development—which in turn had economic and symbolic consequences for Tamil communities experiencing displacement. Development politics have brought about a dramatic demographic shift in the ethnic composition of Malaysia's industrial heartland. This was the intended goal all along. To develop the nation's core identity, politically constructed around Malay ethnicity and Islam, the two being increasingly synonymous, it was argued that Malays had to be united and strong—particularly at the center. In addition to reforming and thereby policing Malay identity, incentives and privileges created a culture of privilege and increasing self-rationalization of these purported entitlements.

Keywords:   plantation industry, ethnic entitlement, Tamil communities, displacement, development politics, demographic shift, Malay ethnicity, Islam, Malay identity, privilege

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