A "redshirts" movement in Malaysia has emerged from the politically charged interaction between three key organising principles in Malaysian public life: race, religion and a sixty-year-old government in crisis.
They reflect a confluence of forces unleashed by the critically important election result in 2013, and the subsequent litany of national and international scandals centred on embattled prime minister Najib Razak. The redshirts’ charged political rhetoric is raising concern that the threat of violent retribution against Malaysia’s Chinese is building to a point where it might not be contained. The redshirts were drawn from around the Malay Peninsula – especially rural settlements established by Malaysia’s Federated Land Development Authority – and from UMNO divisions led by Najib’s supporters. Najib, currently in New York ahead of a planned address to the UN General Assembly, is facing money-laundering investigations in the United States over financial transactions by the indebted national strategic development fund One Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB.