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Indian migration, Malaysia and Singapore

Migration A–Z


  1. Dagmar Hellmann-Rajanayagam

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm291

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Hellmann-Rajanayagam, D. 2013. Indian migration, Malaysia and Singapore. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


Migrants from South Asia have arrived in the Malayan peninsula from time immemorial (Sandhu 1969). But only during the time of British rule were they defined as a specific ethnic group. These definitions carried over into Malaysia (as the country was called after independence in 1957) and Singapore, which joined Malaysia in 1963 but was forced into independence in 1965. In contrast to earlier definitive studies on Indians in Southeast Asia (Sandhu 1969, 1993) the recent literature increasingly questions and problematizes ethnic categories. Authors want to get away from the so-called CIMO (Chinese, Indian, Malay, Others) paradigm. They discern a new transethnic cooperation – which they call teh tarik nationalism, teh tarik being tea cooled by pouring it several times from one cup into another so that it froths up (informally regarded as the national drink of Malaysia, albeit Indian in origin) – which passes for interethnic solidarity but is different from that existing in the interwar years (Mandal 2005).


  • Asia;
  • cultural diversity;
  • cross-cultural;
  • labor