"Malaysianisation" of Malaysian social policy development: a study on Malaysian Child Act (2001)

Faizah binti Haji Mas'ud

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Social policy development in Malaysia has gone through various stages and influences due to many factors, including the country's historical experiences and global policy. Social policy is formulated by the State according to a particular welfare model and to pursue intended political goals set forth for the country. In this study, the Malaysian Child Act (2001) (MCA 2001) has been selected to exemplify the development of social policy in Malaysia. The study seeks to examine what social, political, and economic circumstances in Malaysia have influenced the development of Malaysian social policy with reference to the MCA 2001. Working from an 'insider-outsider' perspective in qualitative inquiry, the research employs a thematic approach in the textual analysis of the MCA 2000, and is supported by relevant laws and information gathered from interviews with selected participants. In this research, the importance of text (statute) is acknowledged as a representation of the exercise of power in the social reality. To ensure a valid account of the phenomena, MCA 2001 is connected with other texts (laws and policy) and the local participants. This research has included interviews with stakeholders who are involved directly and indirectly with the formulation or implementation of the Act. The MCA 2001 endorsed a change of direction away from a problem-solving agenda to a preventive approach. The study reveals how the Act was formulated as the means to achieve 'Malaysianisation' in social policy, and at the same time adheres to the development of international social policy, in particular the United Nation Convention on the Rights of a Child (UNCRC). The formulation of the MCA 2001 facilitated the State's aims to achieve the status of a developed nation in Malaysian Vision 2020. Thus, the Act was utilised to deliver the State agenda in nation-building and at the same time corroborated the country's development plan. To do this, the multicultural population was homogenised by the MCA 2001 to achieve a universal standard of child welfare. This study highlights three main functions of the Act in Malaysia social policy: formalising the partnership between the State and the family in the protection and regulation of children's behaviour; merging child protection law and corrective justice into one law; and continuation of a residual approach to the protection and regulation of children's behaviour from the previous laws, especially for children in at-risk situations. The thesis concludes with an argument that it is critical for social policy in Malaysia to be formulated only after a full consideration of the population it addresses, and how time, place, context and policies can be effectively used to achieve policy objectives. There should be a formal evaluation of social policy through various bodies of the State to evaluate effectiveness, and to provide input about achievement of future policy.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2012


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