Malaysia Studies


The Malaysia Studies Programme adopts a broadly based approach to the study of political, economic and socio-cultural developments and trends in contemporary Malaysia. Research findings and outputs from the programme serve to promote awareness and understanding of the country amongst scholars, civil society, the mass media, and decision-makers from the private and public sectors.

Thematically, the programme currently focuses on: hybrid political regime and democratic transition; electoral politics and political parties; ethnic and religious relations and conflicts; bureaucratic Islam and the secular state; language, education and nationalism; human capital development and brain drain; growth policies and the middle income trap; income distribution and inequalities; the urban-rural divide; legal, illegal and irregular migration; old and new media; civil society; and youth and popular culture.

The programme also collaborates and works closely with external researchers, scholars and centres involved in the study of Malaysia.


Programme Coordinator

Lee Hock Guan and Francis E. Hutchinson are the co-coordinators of the programme, and can be contacted at ([email protected] or [email protected]).

Current Researchers and Affiliates

  • Lee Hock Guan
  • Francis E. Hutchinson
  • Ooi Kee Beng
  • Cassey Lee
  • Tham Siew Yean
  • Lee Hwok Aun
  • Norshahril Saat
  • Mustafa Izzuddin
  • Lee Poh Onn

Past Affiliates

ISEAS has a long history of hosting researchers and scholars studying Malaysia. Among those previously affiliated with the Institute are the following:

Ramlah Adam Geoffrey Benjamin Cheah Boon Kheng
James Chin Ung Ho Jean DeBernardi Hans-Dieter Evers
John Funston T.N. Harper Heng Pek Khoon
Rusalinda Idrus James Jesudason Shirley Lim
Lim Mah Hui Gordon Means Ungku Maimunah Mohd. Tahir
Chandra Muzaffar Judith A. Nagata Sheila Nair
KS Nathan Farish Ahmad Noor P. Ramasamy
Johan Saravanamuttu A.B. Shamsul Dan Slater
Raj Vasil Andrew Willford Meredith Weiss
Diana Wong Wang Gungwu Yao Sou Chou
Wong Mun Loong  Jeff Tan Woo Syn  Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani
Abdillah Noh A Mani  



For upcoming seminars, the events section of the main ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute website

Seminars over the past years:

  • Dr Yeah Kim Leng & Dr Muahmmed Abdul Khalid, Will the 11th Malaysian Plan Transform Malaysia into a Developed Country by 2020?” 23 July 2015
  • Dato’ Zaid Ibrahim, “Malaysia in Crisis,” 9 June 2015
  • Mr P Gunasegaram, 1MDB: A Multi-Billion Ringgit Strategic Development Company Gone Wrong,” 21 May 2015
  • Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid, “Inequality in Malaysia: Is it Really Going Down?” 8 May 2015
  • Dr Leon Comber, “Templer and the Road to Malayan Independence: The Man and His Time,” [Seminar and Book Launch], 20 April 2015
  • Dr Hara Fujio, “Early History of the Malayan Communist Party as Recorded in the Comintern Files,” 16 April 2015
  • Dr Jeff Tan, “Water Privatisation, Entrepreneurship and Rent-Seeking in Malaysia,” 26 March 2015
  • Mr Syed Akbar Ali, “Malaysian Politics and Society: A Developing Trajectory,” 24 March 2015
  • Dr Carl Vadivella Belle, “Najib and 1Malaysia: A New Deal for Malaysian Indians?” [Seminar and Book Launch], 9 February 2015
  • Dr Tan Yao Sua & Prof. S Santhiram, “The Development of Chinese Education in Malaysia: Problems and Challenges,” 17 October 2014
  • Datuk A Kadir Jasin, "Crisis in Selangor and the Two-Party System in Malaysia," 25 September 2014
  • Dr Ang Ming Chee, "Institutions and Social Mobilization: The Chinese Education Movement in Malaysia, 1951-2011," 25 August 2014
  • Dr Meredith L Weiss, "Of Inequality and Irritation: New Agendas and Activism in Malaysia," 21 July 2014
  • Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah, "Situating Moderation in the Malaysian Experience," 28 May 2014
  • Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani, "Islam and Religious Expression in Malaysia," 21 May 2014
  • Dr Dan Slater, "Democracy through Strength in Malaysia?," 25 March 2014
  • Dr Wong Loong, "The New Media in Malaysia: Transformative 'Weapons of the Weak'?," 25 February 2014
  • Dr Carl Vadivella Belle, "Indians in Malaysia: New Political Paths?," 10 February 2014
  • Mr Wan Hamidi Hamid, "New Media in New Malaysia," 19 August 2013
  • Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah, "Malaysia’s 13th General Election (GE13): Rising Tide of Democratic Hope," 16 June 2013
  • Dr Ooi Kee Beng, "The 13th General Election in Malaysia, Reflections and Analyses," 20 May 2013
  • Dr James Chin, "The 13th General Election in Malaysia," 10 April 2013
  • Professor Wing Thye Woo, "Economic Dynamism and Political Change: Lessons for Malaysia," 9 April 2013
  • Dr Maszlee Malik, "Islam in Malaysian Politics and the 13th General Elections," 14 December 2012
  • Ms Soong Fui Kiun, "Political Potholes on the Path to Putrajaya," 27 November 2012
  • Dr Faisal S Hazis, "Malaysia’s 13th General Election: Sarawak, Sabah and Semenanjung," 19 October 2012



ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute has published on Malaysia in a wide range of formats. Each edition of the bimonthly ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute Monitor and the annual Southeast Asian Affairs covers the situation in the country. Articles on Malaysia regularly appear in the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute journals Contemporary Southeast Asia, The Journal of Southeast Asian Economies and SOJOURN: Social Issues in Southeast Asia; as well as other ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute e-publications such as Trends in Southeast Asia and ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute Perspective.


ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute Perspective

 Cassey Lee  

 Why is Malaysia So Interested in Joining the TPP?  (9 March 2015)

 Norshahril Saat 

 The State and the Ulama: Comparing Indonesia and Malaysia (26 February 2015) 

 Cassey Lee 

 Malaysia Strives for Fiscal Consolidation and Off-Balance Sheet Transformation (20 November 2014)

Khor Yu Leng & Vasiliki Mavroeidi  

 Iskandar Malaysia Labours to Develop  (4 November 2014)

Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani

Changes Remain Unclear after Malaysia’s Kajang By-Election (7 April 2014)

John Lee

Sino-Malaysia Trade Ties Remain Strong But Complex (6 March 2014)

Lee Hock Guan

Malaysia’s Funding System for Higher Education not Sustainable (16 Jan 2014)

G. Sivalingam

Malaysia Responds to Rating Agencies in Budget 2014 (7 November 2013)

Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid

Political Islam and the Recent Rise of Islamist Conservatism in Malaysia (31 October 2013)


Avoiding the Twin Deficits in Malaysia (24 October 2013)

Khor Yu Leng

The Tough Task of Narrowing Malaysia’s Fiscal Deficit (10 October 2013)

G. Sivalingam

The Second Phase of Malaysia’s “Look East Policy” (19 August 2013)

Ooi Kee Beng

Malaysia’s BN Stays in Power, But Deep Changes Have Nevertheless Occurred 20 June 2013)

Khor Yu Leng

The Significance of China-Malaysia Industrial Parks (17 June 2013)

Lee Hock Guan

Steadily Amplified Rural Votes Decide Malaysian Elections (6 June 2013)

Francis E. Hutchinson

The Malaysian Elections: The Battle for Johor (29 April 2013)

Cassey Lee

Malaysia’s GE13: A Tale of Two Manifestos (22 April 2013)

G. Sivalingam

Can Malaysia’s Economy Beat the Odds in 2013? (25 March 2013)

Khor Yu Leng

The Sabah-Sulu Crisis Threatens the Palm Oil Supply-Chain (6 March 2013)

Francis Hutchinson

Hidden Counter-Revolution: A History of the Centralisation of Power in Malaysia 24 January 2013)


The Deficit Dilemma in Malaysia (7 November 2012)


Trends in Southeast Asia

Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani 

Islamization Policy and Islamic Bureaucracy in Malaysia ISEAS Trends in Southeast Asia, No. 5 (2015)

Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani

 The Politics of Expression in Malaysia  ISEAS Trends in Southeast Asia, No. 11 (2014)

 Terence Chong  

Johor Survey: Attitudes Towards Governance and Economy, Iskandar Malaysia, and Singapore, ISEAS Trends in Southeast Asia, No. 8 (2014)

John Lee

China’s Engagement with Southeast Asia: Malaysia, ISEAS Trends in Southeast Asia, No. 1 (2014)

Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid

Political Islam and Islamist Politics in Malaysia, ISEAS Trends in Southeast Asia, No.2 (2013)


ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute Working Papers

Wong Mun Loong 

Social Media, Power and Democratization in Malaysia: Weapons of the Weak?  ISEAS Working Paper, No. 4 (2014)

Tham Siew Yean

Malaysia in the Midst of Global Economic Uncertainties, ISEAS Working Paper, No.4 (2013)

Francis E. Hutchinson

Johor and its Electronics Sector: One Priority among Many?, ISEAS Working Paper, No.1 (2012)

Lee Hock Guan

Education and Ethnic Relations in Malaysia, ISEAS Working Paper: Social and Cultural Issues, No.1 (2008)

Lee Hock Guan

Bangsa Malaysia: Ethnic and/or Civic Citizenship, ISEAS Working Paper: Social and Cultural Issues No. 2 (2007)

Rajenthran Arumugam

Malaysia: An Overview of the Legal Framework for Foreign Direct Investment, ISEAS Working Paper: Economic Issues, No.5 (2002)

Lee Hock Guan

Political Parties and the Politics of Citizenship and Ethnicity in Peninsular Malay(si)a, 1957-1968, ISEAS Working Paper: Social and Cultural Issues, No. 2 (2001)

Patricia Lim Pui Huen

Continuity and Connectedness: The Ngee Heng Kongsi of Johor, 1844–1916, ISEAS Working Paper: Social and Cultural Issues, No. 1, (2001)



ISEAS Publications has also published a wide range of monographs and edited volumes on Malaysia. Selected titles published since 2000 include the following:

  • Francis E Hutchinson. Mirror Images in Different Frames? Johor, the Riau Islands and Competition for Investment from Singapore (2015)
  • Leon Comber. Templer and the Road to Malayan Independence: The Man and His Time (2015)
  • Carl Vadivella Belle. Tragic Orphans: Indians in Malaysia (2015) Saw Swee-Hock. The Population of Malaysia (2nd. Ed.) (2015)
  • Johan Saravanamuttu, Lee Hock Guan & Mohamed Nawab Mohamed Osman. Coalitions in Collision: Malaysia’s 13th General Elections (2015)
  • Ang Ming Chee. Institutions and Social Mobilization: The Chinese Education Movement in Malaysia, 1951-2011 (2014)
  • Bernhard Platzdasch & Johan Saravanamuttu (eds.).  Religious Diversity in Muslim-Majority States in Southeast Asia (2014)
  • Anthony Milner, Abdul Rahman Embong and Tham Siew Yean (eds.)  Transforming Malaysia: Dominant and Competing Paradigms (2014)
  • Meredith Weiss (ed.). Electoral Dynamics in Malaysia: Findings from the Grassrooots (2013)
  • Francis E Hutchinson and Johan Saravanamuttu (eds.). Catching the Wind: Penang in a Rising Asia (2013)
  • Liaw Yock Fang. A History of Classical Malay Literature (co-publish with OBOR, 2013)
  • Tham Siew Yean (ed.). Internationlising Higher Education in Malaysia: Understanding, Practices and Challenges (2013)
  • Terence Gomez and Johan Saravanamuttu (eds.). The New Economic Policy in Malaysia: Affirmative Action, Ethnic Inequalities and Social Justice (co-publish with NUS Press, 2013)
  • Veena Sikri. India and Malaysia: Intertwined Strands (2013)
  • Ooi Kee Beng. Done Making Do: 1Party Rule Ends in Malaysia (2013)
  • Lee Hock Guan and Leo Suyardinata (eds.). Malaysian Chinese: Recent Developments and Prospects (2012)
  • Faisal S Hazis. Domination and Contestation: Muslim Bumiputera Politics in Sarawak (2011)
  • Lee Ting Hui and Mok Soon Pang. Chinese Schools in Peninsular Malaysia (2011)
  • Ooi Kee Beng and Goh Ban Lee (eds.). Pilot Studies for a New Penang (2010)
  • Ooi Kee Beng. Between UMNO and a Hard Place (2010)
  • Johan Saravanamuttu. Malaysia’s Foreign Policy, the First Fifty Years (2010)
  • Julian Lee. Islamization and Activism in Malaysia (2010)
  • Ooi Kee Beng. Arrested Reform: The Undoing of Abdullah Badawi (2009)
  • Tawfik Ismail & Ooi Kee Beng. Malaya’s First Year at the United Nations as reflected in Dr Ismail’s reports home to Tunku Abdul Rahman.
  • Rosaly Puthucheary. Different Voices: The Singaporean/Malaysian Novel (2009)
  • Takashi Shiraishi (ed.). Across the Causeway: A Multi-dimensional Study of Malaysia-Singapore Relations (2008)
  • Joan M Nelson, Jacob Meerman and Abdul Rahman Haji Embong (eds.). Globalization and National Autonomy: The Experience of Malaysia (2008)
  • Ooi Kee Beng, Johan Saravanamuttu and Lee Hock Guan. March 8: Eclipsing May 13 (2008)
  • Regina Lim. Federal-State Relations in Sabah, Malaysia: The Berjaya Administration, 1976-85 (2008)
  • Leon Comber. Malaya's Secret Police 1945-60: The Role of the Special Branch in the Malayan Emergency (2008)
  • Joyce C Lebra. Women Against the Raj: The Rani of Jhansi Regiment (2008)
  • Ooi Kee Beng. Lost in Transition. Malaysia under Abdullah (2008)
  • Alexandra Kent. Divinity and Diversity: A Hindu Revitalization Movement in Malaysia (co-publish with NIAS Press, 2007)
  • Lorraine Carlos Salazar. Getting a Dial Tone: Telecommunications Liberalisation in Malaysia and the Philippines (2007)
  • Hew Cheng Sim (ed.). Village Mothers, City Daughters: Women and Urbanization in Sarawak (2007)
  • Saw Swee-Hock. The Population of Malaysia (2007)
  • Ooi Kee Beng. The Reluctant Politician: Tun Dr Ismail and His Time (2006)
  • Ooi Kee Beng. Era of Transition. Malaysia after Mahathir (2006)
  • Saw Swee-Hock and K Kesavapany (eds.). Malaysia: Recent Trends and Challenges (2005)
  • Jeffrey R Vincent and Rozali Mohamed Ali. Managing Natural Wealth: Environment and Development in Malaysia (co-publish with RFF, 2005)
  • Henk M J Maier. We Are Playing Relatives: A Survey of Malay Writing (co-publish with KITLV, 2005)
  • Shamsul A B.  From British to Bumiputera Rule: Local Politics and Rural Development in Peninsular Malaysia (2nd Reprint 2004)
  • Virginia Hooker and Norani Othman (eds.). Malaysia: Islam, Society and Politics (2003)
  • In-Won Hwang. Personalized Politics: The Malaysian State under Mahathir (co-publish with Silkworm, 2003)
  • Francis Loh Kok Wah and Johan Saravanamuttu (eds.). New Politics in Malaysia (2003)
  • Geoffrey Benjamin and Cynthia Chou (eds.). Tribal Communities in the Malay World: Historical, Cultural and Social Perspectives (co-publish with IIAS, 2002)
  • Patricia Lim Pui Huen . Wong Ah Fook: Immigrant, Builder and Entrepreneur (2002)
  • Diana Wong and Patricia Lim Pui Huen (eds.). War and Memory in Malaysia and Singapore (2000)
  • Zawawi Ibrahim. The Malay Labourer: By the Window of Capitalism (2000)
  • Maznah Mohamad. The Malay Handloom Weavers: A Study of the Rise and Decline of Traditional Manufacture (2000)
  • Mohamed Yusoff Ismail. Buddhism and Ethnicity: Social Organization of a Buddhist Temple in Kelantan (2000)
  • Rodolphe De Koninck. Malay Peasants Coping with the World: Breaking the Community Circle (2000)

Banner image copyright Ezry Abdul Rahman