Identity Crisis

Photograph for TIME by John Stanmeyer—VII

Malaysia aspires to be a modern nation but its symbols of prosperity mask growing social problems

Revathi Masoosai should be the perfect embodiment of Malaysia. Her ethnic Indian parents were both born in the ancient port of Malacca in 1957, the very year the colony of Malaya gained independence from the British. Her father was Christian, her mother came from a Hindu family, but they both officially converted to Islam, the religion practiced by Malaysia's majority Malays. Yet Revathi does not feel welcome in her ethnically and religiously diverse homeland. According to Malaysian law, Muslims can only marry other Muslims. Revathi, who was actually raised in the Hindu faith, had fallen in love with a...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!