Solving the ‘Malay Problem’ in Singapore – A Lesson for Hungary: Focus on change in attitude

  • László György

    Budapest Universityof Technology and Economics, Department of Finance, 1117 Budapest, Magyar tudósok körútja 2, Hungary

  • Dóra Sebestyén

    Management of Creative Business Processes, Copenhagen Business School Denmark, 2000 Frederiksberg, Solbjerg Plads 3.


The ‘Malay Problem’, an expression often used by Malay leaders, gradually began to spread within the Malay community in Singapore in 1971 when it was first used. This expression refers to and includes educational underachievement, drug abuse, disadvantaged and dysfunctional families, poor socio-economic standing and low skills of Malay workers. After a short introduction of the ‘Roma issue’ in Hungary, the aim of this study is to introduce the joint efforts undertaken by Malay leaders and the government of Singapore to cope with the challenges emerging within the context of the ‘Malay problem’ in Singapore.

Lessons to learn from this study are as follows: focusing simultaneously on change in attitude within the underprivileged minority combined with support from the majority of the society can help close the achievement gap. Focusing only on one of these two factors, however, would be insufficient based on the double-looped-vicious-circle concept. This study provides detailed insight on how Singapore narrowed the achievement gap between Malays and non-Malays, and it provides policy advice related to Hungarian efforts based on the success of Singaporean Malays.
Keywords: closing the achievement gap, 'Roma issue', 'Malay problem'
Published online
How to Cite
György, L., Sebestyén, D. (2013) “Solving the ‘Malay Problem’ in Singapore – A Lesson for Hungary: Focus on change in attitude”, Periodica Polytechnica Social and Management Sciences, 21(2), pp. 99-110.