No easy solutions for Malaysia’s mess

Protestors hold placards demanding Prime Minister Najib Razak's resignation during an anti-government rally in Kuala Lumpur on 29 August 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Meredith Weiss, SUNY Albany

Malaysia is currently in crisis; the ringgit seems to be on an inexorable downhill slide, ethnic tensions have deteriorated from an uncomfortable simmer to an open flame, and both the government and opposition coalitions are unravelling. Read more…

Will things fall apart in the Malaysian federation?

The Malaysia Independence Day Parade rehearsal in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 27 August 2015. Secession and federalism have suddenly emerged as issues after half a century of relative national stability. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Andrew Harding, NUS

The Irish poet WB Yeats was not thinking about Southeast Asia when he wrote ‘things fall apart; the centre cannot hold’, but his words may accurately describe the situation in Malaysia. The monarchy governing the state of Johor is rattling the federation agreement and talking of secession. Sarawak wants significant devolution. And Sabah is gearing up for the same demand. Read more…

The structural regression of Malaysian manufacturing


Authors: Jayant Menon and Thiam Hee Ng, ADB

Malaysia’s manufacturing sector is reversing to a state reminiscent of its post-colonial stage of development. Regrettably this situation was avoidable.

When the Federation of Malaya gained independence from Britain in 1957, economic conditions were ripe for rapid and sustained growth. Its primary export sector was showing immense potential for expansion. Read more…

Malaysia’s troubles just beginning

MALAYSIA, Kuala Lumpur: Thousands of Malaysians took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur on August 30, 2015 to rally for the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Andrew Harding, NUS

As it tussles with multiple crises of political legitimacy and governance, Malaysia has reached a decisive point in its more than half-century history as an independent nation. What started as a shocking but not exceptional scandal has turned into a political crisis of unprecedented proportions. This was underlined by the Bersih 4 protests on 29–30 August in Kuala Lumpur, attended by an estimated 250,000 yellow-T-shirted Malaysians.

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Fragility in Southeast Asian democracy

Singapore Prime Minister and Secretary General of the ruling People's Action Party Lee Hsien Loong gestures while delivering his speech during a political rally at the opposition constituency of Aljunied in Singapore, 04 September 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

Democracy in some of Southeast Asia’s major economies is now under intense scrutiny.

In Thailand, the imposition of martial law has been a major source of international economic and diplomatic problems for more than a year. Read more…

Malaysia’s mess is Mahathir-made

Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on July 28 replaced his deputy premier Muhyiddin Yassin, who has been critical of Najib's handling of the 1MDB scandal, and sacked his attorney general amid a furore that is threatening his hold on office. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Dan Slater, University of Chicago

At least embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is right about one thing. The current mess in Malaysian politics is the making of his greatest nemesis, Mahathir Mohamad, who led the Southeast Asian nation with an iron fist from 1981–2003. What Najib fails to fathom is that Mahathir has not produced this mess by criticising his leadership, but by paving Najib’s path to power in the fashion he did during his decades in office. Read more…

Corruption scandal divides Malaysia’s political elite

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak during a government event in Putrajaya, 8 July 2015. Malaysian authorities have frozen six bank accounts as part of an investigation into allegations that hundreds of millions of dollars were transferred from a state investment fund to the personal accounts of Najib. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Bridget Welsh, NTU/THC/CDU

Malaysian Prime Minister and Finance Minister Najib Razak faces explosive allegations of embezzlement, corruption and electoral manipulation that go to the very core of his leadership and the legitimacy of his government. United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Najib’s political party, and Malaysia itself have been plunged into yet another crisis. Read more…