Taking Malaysia as the model it is investigate and measure to what extent inequalities between ascriptive groups have fallen in that country between 1970 and 2000, a period during which various affirmative action policies were applied in fields ranging from education and government employment to business. Horizontal inequality in the key indicator of income is re-assessed, using an innovative group Gini decomposition method that can be applied in a relatively data scarce environment, which allows for the consideration of changes over time in the variance of the income distribution as well as changes in the means - which only provide a partial view of income inequality. In addition, changes in access by ethnic group to educational opportunities; the distribution of employment by sector and by occupation; urbanisation and housing distribuition; ownership of household assets such as houses and cars; and infant, toddler and maternal mortality rates are all considered individually, while a multi-dimensional index of socio-economic inequality is subsequently constructed for comparison purposes.
Regional disparity has long been recognized in Malaysian development scenario, particularly between the more-developed western region and the less-developed eastern and northern regions in Peninsular Malaysia. All the Five Year Malaysia Plans, starting from the Third Malaysia Plan (1976-1980) have placed special emphasis on the objectives and strategies of regional development. However in the decade of nineties, in conjunction with globalisation era, the direction of Malaysian development plans have been changed, towards becoming more competitive in the global economy. To some extend after 30 years, the issue of regional disparity is remains unsolved, and yet new emphasis on global competition has been dominated in development strategies and plans. However, analysing from the current achievement of national development, the position of Kuala Lumpur in the global cities network still unsignificant, reflecting the uneffectiveness of the strategies toward strengthening Malaysian competitivenes in global era.