The native peoples of Malaysia, primarily the Malays who make up slightly over 50% of the population, but also including ethnic groups such as the Iban and Dayaks in Borneo, and some small aboriginal non-Malay groups in Peninsular Malaya (collectively called the Orang Asli).

The term bumi putra is Malay for 'princes of the earth' -- often rendered more colloquially in English as 'sons of the soil (or land)' --, and is also written Bumiputra, bumi putera, Bumi, etc.

Those who are not bumiputra are the ethnic Chinese and Indian settlers who came in during the British colonial period. The Chinese gained total economic dominance over the country. During the Second World War the Japanese conquerors trained a Malay-only army. Fighting between Malays and Chinese took place, and continued when British rule was restored (the Emergency).

After independence (1963) hostility simmered until serious race riots in 1969. The ruling United Malay National Organization (UMNO) thereupon began a massive programme of quotas and positive discrimination, which has continued to this day. From owning only 1% of the national wealth, bumiputras are reaching towards 30% now, and it has been proposed to raise the target to 70%. This is called the New Economic Policy (NEP).

This ideological drive is opposed of course by the ethnic Chinese, who want to see a meritocratic society, like Singapore, where the Chinese are dominant. Their lobby group is called Suqiu.

For a far more detailed political analysis of the situation see

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.