Kuala Lumpur (1960-1970)/ New Economic Policy (NEP)

Being the result of 13 May incident in 1969, the government implemented the New Economic Policy to the whole nation, which aimed at eradicating poverty and elimination of identification of ethnic group by economic function and geographical location.

Since the British colonial rule adopted the divide-and-rule policy, Malay mainly worked in rural areas for agriculture. Other ethnic groups such as Chinese worked in mining towns, while Indians worked in rubber plantation in rural areas. This led to a more developed and wealthy society in Chinese community due to the continuous input to urban infrastructure. The economic sharing of Bumiputras is as low as 2.4% in 1970. Hence, the government implemented a series of policy that favors the Malay and other indigenous ethnic groups in terms of finding employment and acquiring ownership in economic sectors.

The relationship of the urban form in Kuala Lumpur and NEP is the speed up of conurbanization of KL. Instead of concentrated development in the city centre which more Chinese reside, land that used for agriculture by Malays is developed. High rise building with Islamic started to change the skyline of Kuala Lumpur. Different from Singapore and Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur does not need to face the cross-boundary concerns. Lower density in City centre and generation of the Great Kuala Lumpur is formed. Industrial centres and housing estates are constructed outside with expressway linked.

The policy also leads to the formation of Malay middle class worked in administrative sectors. The segregation of ethnic group appears to decrease in middle and upper class areas. The policy focuses on the equality of outcome rather than opportunity, which make it very controversial in terms of racial discrimination.



Choy, E. A., Rostam, K., Nor, A. R. M., Dali, M. M.,(2013) “Malaysia : Kuala Lumpur,”  in Asian and Pacific Cities Development patterns USA: Routledge

Evers, H., Korff, R. (2000) Southeast Asia Urbanism. The meaning and power of social space. New York: St. Martin’s press, inc.

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