In The Malay Dilemma, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad examines and analyses the make-up of the Malays and the problem of racial harmony in Malaysia. First published in 1970, the book seeks to explain the causes for the 13 May 1969 riots in Kuala Lumpur. Dr Mahathir sets out his view as to why the Malays are economically backward and why they feel they must insist upon immigrants becoming real Malaysians speaking in due course nothing but Malay, as do immigrants to America or Australia speak nothing but the language of what the author calls “the definitive people”. He argues that the Malays are the rightful owners of Malaya. He also argues that immigrants are guests until properly absorbed, and that they are not properly absorbed until they have abandoned the language and culture of their past.
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