Document Type

Honors Project


Contrary to most countries practicing affirmative action, Malaysia and South Africa established policies whose beneficiaries make up their demographic majority. Despite their socio-historical similarities, their respective justifications for these policies were extremely different: Malaysia's rationale was “retributive” in nature, whereas South Africa's was “restitutive.” This comparative-and-historical paper seeks not only to determine the factors that caused these different outcomes, but also to provide an alternate perspective to existing scholarship on affirmative action policies, most of which focus on minority-beneficiary nations. I argue that the differing outcomes can be traced to their history of colonial rule, which influenced processes such as state formation and policy and resulted in two societies that differed in how political and economic power were initially distributed and how it transformed to their present-day outcomes.



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