Malaysia prides itself on a unique pluralistic society comprising members from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds. This peaceful coexistence and integration is possible due to the high level of compromise and tolerance between all ethnic and religious groups. While there have been dark moments that threatened the hard-won peace (such as the violent riots of May 1969), Malaysia has always managed to move past it and come back stronger.
Unfortunately, a worrying trend of interracial conflict is re-emerging in contemporary Malaysia. INITIATE.MY’s database captured an alarming increase in intergroup conflict motivated by religious hatred and racism, especially around the 2018 Malaysian general election. Among others, this trend was mobilised by far-right leaning actors who instigated fear and anger among their followers and a wider public sympathetic to their cause. Most attempts to resolve these conflicts were top-down and punitive in nature, which was ineffective over the long run.