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Politics of preferential development

Politics of preferential development: Trans-global study of affirmative action and ethnic conflict in Fiji, Malaysia and South Africa

Steven Ratuva
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Politics of preferential development
    Book Description:

    The book is a critical examination of affirmative action, a form of preferential development often used to address the situation of disadvantaged groups. It uses a trans-global approach, as opposed to the comparative approach, to examine the relationship between affirmative action, ethnic conflict and the role of the state in Fiji, Malaysia and South Africa. While affirmative action has noble goals, there are often intervening political and ideological factors in the form of ethno-nationalism and elite interests, amongst others, which potentially undermine fair distribution of affirmative action resources. The book examines the affirmative action philosophies and programs of the three countries and raises pertinent questions about whether affirmative action has led to equality, social justice, harmony and political stability and explores future possibilities. “Steven Ratuva provides a brilliant critical study, not just of affirmative action policy and practice in three very different postcolonial contexts, but of the very complex matters of principle, justification and ideology that are involved more generally. It is an invaluable contribution to the literature on this important topic.” - Dr Stephanie Lawson, Professor of Politics and International Relations, Macquarie University. “Scholarly and provocative, Steven Ratuva’s Politics of Preferential Development is an original and insightful comparative contribution to the growing literature on affirmative action around the world.” - Dr Ralph Premdas, Professor of Public Policy, University of West Indies; Former Professor, University of California Berkeley and University of Toronto.

    eISBN: 978-1-925021-03-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1. Affirmative action and trans-global study
    (pp. 1-10)

    Affirmative action refers to programs designed and implemented to address the socio-economic and political situations of those considered historically ‘disadvantaged’. However, the questions, ‘Who constitutes the disadvantaged?’ and, ‘What type of preferential programs are appropriate?’ can be contentious because the term ‘disadvantaged’ can be defined in different ways in different situations by different people; and often, certain definitions may favour certain groups ahead of others.

    Affirmative action policies range from ‘strong’ approaches based on highly institutionalized quota-based and sanction-driven policies imposed by the state to ‘soft’ approaches based on very informal and voluntary systems. The most common preferential policies relate...

  5. 2. Proto-affirmative action: Indigenous Fijian development from cession to independence
    (pp. 11-30)

    Although the term ‘affirmative action’ was not used until after the 1987 military coup, various policies aimed at improving the socio-economic conditions of indigenous Fijians were adopted from the early days of colonialism. However, there were contradictory perceptions and policies as to how the question of indigenous Fijian ‘progress’ was to be dealt with. The first view, advocated by Governor im Thurn in the early 1900s as well as many white farmers, was that there should be a total liberalization of the indigenous Fijian system including the commercialization and individualization of the landownership system. On the opposite side of the...

  6. 3. Politicized affirmative action: Independence in 1970 to the 1987 military coup
    (pp. 31-62)

    By the time of independence in 1970, Fiji was faced with a number of dilemmas. The first was how to create a collective national identity while maintaining distinctive cultural identities; the second was how to address indigenous Fijian development while ensuring an open market economy; and the third was how to consolidate a pluralistic parliamentary democracy while maintaining distinctive ethnic political rights through communally reserved parliamentary seats. Negotiating these sets of seemingly dichotomous variables required a political process which was ethno-politically sensitive, ideologically balanced and able to accommodate and ameliorate diverse and often antagonistic interests.

    Perhaps the most pressing issue...

  7. 4. The 1987 military coup: Affirmative action by the gun
    (pp. 63-100)

    Affirmative action became a much more intense political obsession after the 1987 military coup. In fact the term ‘affirmative action’ itself was first used after the coup. The coup provided the perfect justification for large-scale affirmative action because the supporters of the coup assumed that lack of socio-economic progress by indigenous Fijians had led to the rise of ethno-nationalism and the coup and that the only way to avoid another coup was to address socio-economic grievances through affirmative action.

    The 1987 coup was an outward eruption of the undercurrent of ethno-political fissures that have characterized ethnic politics in Fiji since...

  8. 5. Social engineering: Attempts to create an indigenous entrepreneurial class
    (pp. 101-140)

    The affirmative action policies after the 1987 coup was driven largely by the desire to “catch up” with the Indo-Fijian in the business sector by engaging indigenous Fijians in entrepreneurship to a greater degree. The creation of a vibrant indigenous middle class was a way of driving indigenous Fijian development forward to maintain ethnic balance and stability. Most of the affirmative action projects were targeted at urban, middle-class indigenous Fijians and hardly any was targeted at rural development for villages.

    As we saw in the last chapter, the post-coup affirmative action programs prescribed under the Nine Points Plan, and later...

  9. 6. Appeasement, scams and tension: Affirmative action programs, 1999 to 2006
    (pp. 141-170)

    Affirmative action programs between 1999, after the FLP-led coalition came to power, and the 2006 coup can be understood in terms of three major trends. The first was the failed appeasement strategy by the FLP-led coalition under Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry (1999 to 2000); the second was the use of affirmative action as a conflict resolution mechanism and associated scams (2000-2001); and the third was attempted reconciliation and tension leading to the 2006 coup (2002 to 2006).

    The dominant feature of the first period was the urgent attempt by the Labour-led coalition to mobilize indigenous Fijian support through the public...

  10. 7. Post-2006 coup affirmative action: Development at gunpoint
    (pp. 171-194)

    Bainimarama’s desire to forcibly remove Qarase’s government started not long after Qarase won the 2001 election and in the five years before the December 2006 coup Bainamarama had made it clear a number of times that Qarase had to go (Tuatoko 2004; Fraenkel, Firth and Lal 2009). Two theories have been put forward to explain Bainimarama’s persistent eagerness to usurp power. The first and more widely accepted ‘official’ version was that Bainimarama came to the realisation that Qarase was strongly sympathetic to the ethno-nationalist ideology used to justify the 2000 coup. This was manifested in Qarase’s pro-indigenous policies including the...

  11. 8. Ethnicity, reform and affirmative action in Malaysia
    (pp. 195-218)

    This chapter examines some of the salient features of Malaysian affirmative action and some of the important challenges associated with it. As discussed earlier, Fiji and Malaysia enjoyed a special relationship over the years based on assumptions about shared ethnic problems and other historical links. Some aspects of British colonial policies in the two countries were similar, especially in relation to the co-option of traditional elites into the colonial governance structure, the importation of foreign labour and provision for protective cultural political mechanisms commonly referred to as “paramountcy of Fijian interest” and Malay “special privileges.”

    Affirmative action in Malaysia faced...

  12. 9. “Black empowerment” policies: Dilemmas of affirmative action in South Africa
    (pp. 219-240)

    This chapter examines some of the major dilemmas faced by affirmative action policies in South Africa as it attempts to transform itself into a democratic state. The gap between the abstract ideology of equity and the pragmatic world of entrenched human interests has been a major challenge in the post-apartheid reform process.

    Apartheid was a form of pro-white affirmative action which was reversed after the change in government in 1994, when pro-black affirmative action became part of the post-apartheid reconstruction in South Africa as a remedial strategy to address the legal and historical exclusion of the black majority (Jeffery 2009;...

  13. 10. Trans-global affirmative action: Some critical lessons
    (pp. 241-244)

    We need to learn broader and deeper implications and critical lessons from the trans-global study of affirmative action in Fiji, Malaysia and South Africa. No doubt it provides an insight into diverse experiences of different countries, which nevertheless may be using the same affirmative action template.

    Although countries may be using the same affirmative action framework, justification and philosophy, the local political, economic and socio-cultural conditions do matter in determining the final outcome of preferential programs. The preferential policy templates are often reconfigured to suit local circumstances and interests. This is usually the prerogative of local elites in power. In...

  14. References
    (pp. 245-264)
  15. Index
    (pp. 265-274)