Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

Wurfel, David,


Political Science, General.




The aim of this thesis is to examine the relationship between preferential policies and political stability in three developing polities--Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Fiji. After a discussion of the socioeconomic environment and institutional legacies in each case, the types of preferential policies adopted by each were examined. The ethnic configuration; geographic distribution; the economic factors; "exit" alternatives; the political system; and external variables in each country were then analysed to assess their impact on political stability in the countries. The findings of this study suggest that political stability in ethnically plural societies that adopt preferential policies depends largely on two factors: the extent to which the politically disadvantaged group is accommodated in the political system; and the degree of hegemony exercised by the politically advantaged group, itself unified. In Malaysia and in pre-1987 Fiji, preferential policies in favour of the Malays and Fijians have been accompanied by significant accommodation of Chinese and Indian interests. In Sri Lanka, the Tamils, who were a much smaller minority, were largely excluded from the political system by the Sinhalese and hence, the preferential policies led to their political alienation and demands for a separate state. In Malaysia and Fiji, political stability is very much dependent on the dominant ethnic groups--the Malays and Fijians--maintaining their political hegemony. The Sri Lankan case however, suggests that such hegemonic control can become excessive, and conducive to political instability unless it is balanced by some genuine accommodation of minority interests. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 31-01, page: 0139. Chair: David Wurfel. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1991.