Marginalized Minorities in Malaysia? A Case Study of a Demolished Estate Hindu Temple in Penang


  • Sue Ann Teo Victoria University of Wellington



Penang, Malaysia, Hindu temple demolition, Hindus, religious minority


In the literature, Malaysian Indians, as minorities, are marginalized and discriminated against, while their agency is either conspicuously lacking or one-dimensional. As a result, the mainstream discourse concerning Malaysian Indians is discursive and renders them subordinate. I argue that despite the marginalization and discrimination, grassroots Malaysian Indian Hindus are not powerless. With a case study of a demolished estate Hindu temple in Penang, I unpack their agential compliance and lack of confrontation when the state government destroyed their community temple. Their agential responses reflect their diverse political and social experiences as minorities and the myriad ways of interpreting the political rivalry between the ruling federal and opposition-led state government. Analysis of the case study is derived from ethnography and in-depth interviews with the estate Hindus.

Author Biography

Sue Ann Teo, Victoria University of Wellington

Teo Sue Ann received her doctorate in Religious Studies from the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Her research interests in the fields of anthropology and sociology include (Hindu) minorities, gender, and politics. She also works as a researcher in the localisation of Sustainable Development Goals in Malaysia for All-Party Parliamentarian Groups and as a liaison officer for the Northern Region. Her current focus lies on intra-communal relations among Malaysian Indian Hindu communities and casteism. 


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How to Cite

Teo, S. A. (2021). Marginalized Minorities in Malaysia? A Case Study of a Demolished Estate Hindu Temple in Penang. Advances in Southeast Asian Studies, 14(1), 81–98.



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