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Malaysia's ethnic tensions rise as its economy declines

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Most Malay people are Muslims and cannot eat pork for religious dietary reasons.   © Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR -- Robust economic growth has long played a key role in smoothing over tensions between Malaysia's different ethnic groups. But with that growth sputtering, resentment over the government's preferential treatment of ethnic Malays may soon boil over.

     The rift between Chinese Malaysians, who account for less than 30% of the country's population, and the ethnic Malay majority of 60% deepened sharply after the general election last May, which saw the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak declare victory. The slowing economy has deepened the underlying mistrust between these two groups, and the premier, looking to solidify his support base among Malay voters, appears to be turning a blind eye to the escalating tensions.

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