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Upcoming Events

Seminar: Beyond Electoral Coordination: Malaysia’s Opposition Evolutional Challenge

09 Sep 2016
MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME

About the Seminar

In being badly fragmented, Malaysia's opposition has not been able to successfully challenge Prime Minister Najib Razak hold on power despite the world-class 1MDB scandal. Most analysts and well-wishers of the opposition focus on its failure in electoral coordination, as in the multi-cornered fights in the Sarawak state election in May and the subsequent two by-elections on the peninsula. Many attribute the opposition's disunity to the loss of leaders like Anwar Ibrahim and Nik Aziz Nik Mat. I argue that the opposition's problem is more a structural one. Even if a straight fight deal is attained eventually between Pakatan Harapan, PAS and Mahathir’s new party Bersatu, the opposition may not be able to inspire voters to enthusiastically turn out to vote in the next polls. Historically, three opposition coalitions have tried to adopt strategic ambiguity on two salient but divisive issues – Islamisation and the future of Bumiputeraism – to maintain unity. They all failed since the issues were easily and skilfully used by UMNO/BN as the wedge between them. The old model of a pre-election coalition epitomised by the 'two-party system' narrative may also be obsolete as the opposition parties' ideological difference is now much wider than before the 2013 election. Offering the image of a coherent grand coalition may sound hypocritical and fake, and invoke more voter distrust and cynicism against party politics.To end UMNO/BN's electoral one-party rule, the opposition parties may need to evolve by seeking some reconciliation on Islamisation and Bumiputeraism on one hand and persuading voters to accept a more fluid model of post-election coalition on the other.

About the Speaker

Dr Wong Chin Huat is a UK-trained political scientist working on political institutions and identity politics in Malaysia. His current over-arching research focus is "the 1946 Question: can citizens be equal yet different?" that connects state-building, nation-building, citizenship and democratization since 1946. He is currently Head of Political and Social Analysis at Penang Institute, the think tank for the state government of Penang.


Registration

To register, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by 8 September 2016.

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Seminar: Malaysian Capitalism Amongst Diverse Asian Capitalisms: A New Theoretical Framework

19 Jul 2016
MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME

About the Seminar

The seminar provides an analysis of Malaysia’s capitalism from the perspective of the Régulation framework (Boyer, 1990; Amable, 2003; Boyer et al, 2012). The framework is used to assess two major changes since 2009, namely, ambivalence of the changing State-Business ties and the China-oriented shift of international integration. In the seminar, special attention will be given to institutional hierarchy and institutional complementarities. Findings presented in the seminar are derived from an on-going research project attempting to assess the varieties of capitalism in Asia using methodologies in new political economy that can tackle the institutional diversity of capitalisms in very distinctive socio-economic context.

Amable, B. 2003. The Diversity of Modern Capitalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Boyer, R. 1990. The Regulation School: A Critical Introduction. New York, Columbia University Press.

Boyer R., H. Uemura and A. Isogai (eds). 2012. Diversity and Transformations of Asian Capitalisms. London: Routledge.

 

About the Speaker

Dr Elsa Lafaye de Micheaux (Associate Professor, Rennes 2, France) is currently conducting research at the Institute for Contemporary Southeast Asia, (IRASEC) Bangkok. She is also an Associate Researcher at the Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. As an institutionalist economist, her research fields are development studies and political economy with a specific focus on Malaysia. 


Registration
For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by 18 July 2016.
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Seminar: The Nature of the IS Threat to Malaysia

26 Jul 2016
MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME SEMINAR

About the Seminar
Since independence in 1957, Malaysia has confronted various forms of security threats that emanated from local, regional and international sources. The latest is the emergent “Islamic State” (IS) group and its affiliates. Since mid-2013, the Malaysian police have arrested 197 (as of June 2016) individuals suspected of having ties with IS elements locally and abroad. IS-affiliates such as Revo Group had recruited many Malaysians regardless of age, gender, educational background and social status to advocate their ideology. There are also numerous secretive cells distributed throughout the peninsula attempting to solicit funds and indoctrinate, recruit and send converts to the conflict zones in Syria and Iraq. In May 2016, two Malaysians appeared in an IS video burning their passports and vowing to return home to overthrow the government of Malaysia. In June, one Malaysian appeared again in an IS-produced video declaring war against the Malaysian police and the “taghut” regime. These events show that the IS threat is not diminishing despite the fact that the group is losing ground in Syria and Iraq.

This seminar attempts to address the following questions: How do IS elements infiltrate and develop in Malaysia? What propaganda and narratives do they use? Why are some Malaysians attracted to IS narratives? And how is Malaysia dealing with the increasing threats from IS?

About the Speaker
Ahmad El-Muhammady was born in Kelantan. After receiving a madrasah education there, he went on to gain his B.A. (2004) and M.A. (2010) in Political Science from the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). Currently, he is a lecturer in political science and Islamic studies at the Department of Human Sciences, IIUM while working on a doctorate at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization, Kuala Lumpur. His research is on extremist ideology and terrorism in Malaysia.

In 2011, Mr Ahmad was appointed a panelist in the Royal Malaysia Police’s Special Rehabilitation Programme for militant detainees. He has been a regular public speaker on the issue of militancy and terrorism in Malaysia, to government agencies, civil society groups and the law enforcement and intelligence community. In 2013, he was appointed committee member to the Malaysian Institute for Research in Youth Development (IYRES) a think tank of Malaysia’s Ministry of Youth and Sport.

In August 2015, he testified in Kuala Lumpur High Court as an expert witness in terrorism cases involving members of Tanzim al-Qaeda Malaysia. He was also a consultant to the 4th Project PACIFIC Operational Working Group Meeting under the INTERPOL South East Asia Foreign Fighters Project in 2015. Mr Ahmad writes regularly for Malaysian newspapers and is interviewed in the mass media. 

Registration
For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by 25 July 2016.
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Seminar: The Politics of National Identity in Malaysia: The Making of Negara Islam

05 Jul 2016
MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME

About the Seminar

The government’s move on 26th May 2016 to expedite for parliamentary deliberation the Private Member’s Bill introduced by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang to expand the Syariah court’s jurisdiction surprised and unsettled many. It has been interpreted by its opponents as a step towards the implementation of Islamic penal code. Others in particular the Prime Minister and his party leaders have dismissed this reading and explained that the bill would merely remove any limitations on the type of sentences the Syariah Court is authorised to hand down to Muslims except for the death penalty. A third interpretation regards the incident as nothing more than a ploy to boost the political credentials of UMNO and/or PAS in the face of the two up-coming by-elections in June, and consequently, it would eventually come to nothing.

 

This presentation argues that the push to enhance the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court has been in the making for some time, not just by PAS politicians but also by other Islamic social and institutional actors. This push, in tandem with the attempts at implementing Islamic penal code, may be understood as part of the broader movement in terms of efforts towards what are regarded as rendering the Malaysian state institutions more in conformity with Islamic teachings. This idea and the multiple policy initiatives of realising the so-called negara Islam, unleashed since the launch of the Islamisation Policy by Dr Mahathir Mohamed as Malaysia’s Prime Minister, have acquired a momentum of its own.

 

The impact of this process of change is progressively making itself felt, on matters such as the interpretation of Article 3(1) and 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution, the judicial deliberation of inter-religious litigations and the yawning gap in perspectives between advocates of Islamic penal code and their detractors on the constitutional implications of its implementation.

 

This presentation will examine some of these unfolding dynamics and the social actors involved.  Periodic outbursts of interreligious contentions in the public sphere over issues such as the above-mentioned move are only symptoms sustained by these underlying social dynamics. By way of concluding, I will consider some implications of this development on national identity formation, interethnic relations and national integration in Malaysia.

About the Speaker

Helen Ting Mu Hung (PhD in Political Science, Sciences Po, Paris) is Senior Fellow at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). Her research interests include the politics of national history, multiculturalism, political secularism, identity and agency.

 

Registration
For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by 4 July 2016.
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Seminar: Christianity, Conversion, and Overseas Chinese: Historical Moments in Religious Interaction

17 Jun 2016
MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME

About the Seminar
This presentation is an offshoot of my current research, which explores the nature of religious interaction in Southeast Asia between 1500 and 1900. Throughout most of this time a major goal of Christian missions in Asia was to reach China, and Chinese communities in Southeast Asia were valued primarily as a preparatory training ground. Reviewing the period from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century, the presentation addresses the interaction between Christian missionaries and Chinese in Southeast Asia. It seeks to explain why Christianity was relatively slow to appeal to overseas Chinese, and why it did not gain any significant following until the 20th century. While recognizing that each location has its own history, I focus on three ‘historical moments’ when the Christianization of overseas Chinese assumes a prominent place in the sources: Spanish Manila, 1581-1639; the Straits Settlements, 1815-67; and Singapore and the Netherlands Indies in the 1930s. In adopting a comparative framework, I argue that historicizing the global connections between religious missions, the personalities involved, and the differing responses among overseas Chinese opens up new opportunities for Southeast Asia to become involved in the growing field of world history.

About the Speaker
BARBARA WATSON ANDAYA (Ph.D. Cornell University) is Professor and Chair of Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii, and currently Visiting Senior Fellow at ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute. Between 2003 and 2010 she was Director of the University’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies and in 2005-06 she was President of the American Association of Asian Studies. In 2000 she received a John Simon Guggenheim Award, and in 2010 she was awarded the University of Hawai‘i Regents Medal for Excellence in Research. She has lived and taught in Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, the Netherlands, and the United States. Her specific area of expertise is the western Malay-Indonesia archipelago, on which she has published widely, but she maintains an active teaching and research interest across all Southeast Asia. Her publications include Perak, The Abode of Grace: A Study of an Eighteenth Century Malay State (1979); co-translator of Raja Ali Haji’s Tuhfat al-Nafis (The Precious Gift) (1982); To Live as Brothers: Southeast Sumatra in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (1993); The Flaming Womb: Repositioning Women in Early Modern Southeast Asia (2006). With Leonard Y. Andaya she has co-authored A History of Malaysia (1982; revised edition, 2000; third edition, forthcoming 2016); and A History of Early Modern Southeast Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Her present project is a history of religious interaction in Southeast Asia, 1511-1900.

Registration
For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by 16 June 2016.
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Seminar: Betrayal, Sacred Landscapes, and Stories of Justice Among Tamils in Malaysia

02 Jun 2016
MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME

About the Seminar

Malaysia’s multiethnic ideology is premised upon an ideal of hospitality that simultaneously announces its own impossibility through the marking of legal ethno-nationalist rights and privileges. The performativity of the Law has been increasingly revealed to Malaysian Tamils through a series of recent events that have left them questioning the civility of their country. Specifically, the demolitions of temples and the acquisitions of land by the State, forced conversions, and the dispossession of Tamil plantation workers have precipitated doubts. I argue that the force of law within the ethno-nationalist state is haunted by a fragmentation of memory and experience among Tamils. This is wrought by a sense of “betrayal” by the State upon an increasingly sacralized landscape. Among Tamil Hindus, notions of divine justice have become fused with possessive and sometimes violent imaginaries. Tamil notions of divine justice are revealed to be a form of compensation, albeit one grounded in a growing victim’s narrative. Through my interlocutors and collaborators, I have come to critique the Law, as mutually understood through the ethnographic encounter. At the same time, I have strategically utilized empathy in the face of great hospitality, whilst recoiling, at times, from the implications that accompany calls of justice. I conclude with a meditation upon the ethics of critique by suggesting the ethnographic betrayal is both painful and necessary.


About the Speaker

Andrew Willford is Professor of Anthropology at Cornell University. Professor Willford’s work characteristically explores psychological aspects of selfhood, identity, and subjectivity within a matrix of power and statecraft. His previous research has focused upon Tamil displacement, revivalism, and identity politics in Malaysia and India. A recent book, Tamils and the Haunting of Justice: History and Recognition in Malaysia’s Plantations (University of Hawaii Press/Singapore University Press, 2014) examines how Tamil plantation communities face the uncertainties of retrenchment and relocation in Malaysia. Other books include: Cage of Freedom: Tamil Identity and the Ethnic Fetish in Malaysia (University of Michigan Press, 2006; Singapore University Press, 2006), Spirited Politics: Religion and Public Life in Contemporary Southeast Asia, Andrew Willford and Kenneth George, eds. (Southeast Asia Program Publications, Cornell University, 2005); and Clio/Anthropos: Exploring the Boundaries between History and Anthropology, Andrew Willford and Eric Tagliacozzo, eds. (Stanford University Press, 2009).


Registration

For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by 1 June 2016.
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Seminar: Has Malaysian Islam been Salafized?

25 May 2016
MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME SEMINAR

About the Seminar

Recent surveys have worryingly suggested that there has been a rise in the level of extremism among Muslims in Malaysia, although the majority remain moderate in orientation. This tallies with media reports on increasing numbers of Malay-Muslim youth harbouring attraction towards radical Islamist movements such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This presentation posits that the form of Islam that is normatively understood and practised in Malaysia i.e. Malaysian Islam, has undergone myriad changes as a result of gradual internalization of the Wahhabi brand of Salafism since the 1970s. Salafization, referring to a process of mindset and attitudinal transformation rather than the growth of Salafi nodes per se, is not restricted to individuals or groups identified as ‘Salafi’, but rather affects practically all levels of Malay-Muslim society, cutting across political parties, governmental institutions and non-state actors. Powered by petrodollars, this new wave of Salafization has eclipsed an earlier Salafi trend which spawned the Kaum Muda reformist movement. It has also resulted in Islamist, rather than Islamic, ideals increasingly defining the tenor of mainstream Islam in Malaysia, with debilitating consequences in the fields of both intra-Muslim and inter-religious relations. However, the Malay-Muslim powers that be in Malaysia conveniently ignore the Wahhabi-Salafi onslaught for expedient reasons, thus putting social pluralism at stake.

About the Speaker

AHMAD FAUZI ABDUL HAMID is Visiting Senior Fellow, ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute, and Professor of Political Science, School of Distance Education, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang, Malaysia. Trained as a political scientist and political economist at the universities of Oxford, Leeds and Newcastle, UK, his research interests lie within the field of political Islam in Southeast Asia. Ahmad Fauzi has published over forty scholarly articles in leading journals such as Indonesia and the Malay World, Islamic Studies, Asian Studies Review, Southeast Asian Studies, Asian Journal of Political Science, Japanese Journal of Political Science, Asian Survey, Pacific Affairs, Sojourn and Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations. He regularly contributes book chapters to edited volumes, the most recent being ‘Sociopolitical Developments in West Asia and Their Impact on Christian Minorities in the Region’, in Felix Wilfred (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Christianity in Asia (New  York: Oxford University Press, 2014); ‘The Hudud Controversy in Malaysia: Religious Probity or Political Expediency?’, in Daljit Singh (ed.), Southeast Asian Affairs 2015 (Singapore: ISEAS, 2015); and ‘Globalization of Islamic Education in Southeast Asia’, in Ken Miichi and Omar Farouk (eds.), Southeast Asian Muslims in the Era of Globalization (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Ahmad Fauzi has published three research monographs, namely Islamic Education in Malaysia (RSIS, 2010), Political Islam and Islamist Politics in Malaysia (ISEAS, 2013) and Middle Eastern Influences on Islamist Organizations in Malaysia: The Cases of ISMA, IRF and HTM (ISEAS, 2016 – co-authored with Che Hamdan Che Mohd. Razali). His latest contribution to knowledge, published in April 2016, is an article in ISEAS’s flagship journal, Contemporary Southeast Asia, vol. 38, no. 1 (2016), pp. 28-54, entitled ‘Syariahization of Intra-Muslim Religious Freedom and Human Rights Practice in Malaysia: The Case of Darul Arqam’. Earlier this month, Ahmad Fauzi featured in a panel discussion on ‘Islam in the Contemporary World’ in Channel News Asia’s ‘Between the Lines’ talkshow.

Registration
For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by 24 May 2016.
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Seminar: Political and Economic Risk in Malaysia beyond 1MDB

28 Apr 2016
MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME


About the Seminar

Two years into the full-blown 1MDB saga which shows no sign of abating, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak remains in office with his detractors – particularly Dr Mahathir Mohamad – admitting they need outside help and prosecution to unseat the man who is arguably the most unpopular prime minister to date.

Despite the unpopularity and a world that shows no tolerance for abuse at the political top, Najib remains in office with no challenger in sight. But the economy is floundering due to low prices of oil and commodities, the retail sector is slowing and the only bright spark is a recovering ringgit and a stock index which remains robust due to the services and manufacturing sectors.

What is in store for Najib and Co, the effects on the opposition and the outcome of the Sarawak Elections in May and also the general elections which must be called by mid-2018. Jahabar Sadiq goes through the saga and the scenarios that could develop for the next 12 months.

About the Speaker

Jahabar Sadiq was the Chief Executive Officer and Editor of The Malaysian Insider, Malaysia's fastest growing news portal until it was shut down on March 15, 2016, and has been a journalist in print, news wires, television, radio and internet since 1988. He was a senior producer with Reuters Television, the international news and information broadcast agency, from 1998 to 2009, interviewing world leaders, captains of industry and others from Afghanistan to East Timor. He had also had an earlier stint in Reuters as a political and economic news correspondent and was briefly a producer in AP Television. He started his career in the New Straits Times and spent a year in Business Times before joining Reuters.

Registration
For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by 27 April 2016.
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Seminar: Adenan, Autonomy, and the Alternatives: Sarawak Decides 2016

22 Apr 2016
MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME

About the Seminar

A recently published survey by a respected pollster indicated that Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem’s popularity has soared among Sarawakians from 74 percent in July 2015 to 81 percent in January 2016. The new Chief Minister is not only popular among the Bumiputera voters who form the backbone of Barisan Nasional (BN) support but also among ethnic Chinese who overwhelmingly voted for the opposition in the 2011 state elections. Many believe that Adenan’s popularity will help to swing the Chinese votes, thus enabling the BN to consolidate its electoral dominance in Sarawak. However, some skeptics argue that the Chinese ground is not moving significantly enough to the BN because there are lingering issues and problems that the new Chief Minister has yet to resolve. Another interesting and significant development going into the 2016 elections is the rise of Sarawak nationalism. The manifestations of this sentiment vary from the call for greater autonomy to the more extreme call for secession from the Federation of Malaysia. It is believed that the rise of Sarawak nationalism may erode the popularity of federal opposition parties. However, some quarters argue that the ruling party had played the sentiment of Sarawak nationalism in the previous state elections and this did not stop close to 40 percent voters to vote for DAP and PKR. With so many questions raised over the impact of Adenan’s popularity and Sarawak nationalism, how will the 2016 elections pan out? Will Sarawakians decide to go for Adenan’s promise of hope and greater autonomy or will they continue to demand for change? These questions are the focus of the presentation.

About the Speaker

Faisal S. Hazis is the Head of Centre for Asian Studies and Senior Fellow at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. His research interests include electoral politics, state-society relations, democracy and civil movements. Dr Faisal has studied Sarawak politics for over 18 years and published numerous books and articles on the subject. Among the notable ones are Domination and Contestation: the Muslim Bumiputera Politics in Sarawak (ISEAS Press), ‘The Politics of Development in Sarawak’ (UKM Press) and ‘Patronage, Power and Prowess: Barisan Nasional’s Dominance in East Malaysia’ (USM Press).

Registration
For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by 21 April 2016.

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Seminar: Intimate Citizenship of Non-heteronormative Malay Men in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia: A Comparative Study

31 Mar 2016

MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME

ABOUT THE SEMINAR

The presentation investigates the interplay of gender, sexual, ethnic, religious and national identities of Malay non-heteronormative men by comparing cases in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. The Malays are singled-out not only because of their largely shared ethnic, cultural, and historical heritages even as they are physically and politically separated by post-colonial national boundaries, but also because these similarities allow for comparisons. By adopting the comparative study strategy and Ken Plummer’s (2003) conceptual model of intimate citizenship, the presentation aims to answer these questions: What are the similarities and differences in the lived experiences of Malay non-heteronormative men in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore?; What are the similarities and differences in the ways these men express their non-heteronormativities within specific and local gender, sexual, ethnic, religious, and nationalist discourses?; and How do they negotiate and navigate zones of intimacy?

By adopting the comparative study approach and conceptual model of intimate citizenship, this presentation hopes to shed light on how Malay non-heteronormative men negotiate their masculinity, sexuality, ethnicity, religious and national identities within the realms of nationalism, citizenship and the international discourse of sexual citizenship.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Chua Hang Kuen is an early career researcher who completed his PhD at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University in Melbourne. Dr Chua is currently a lecturer and researcher in Anthropology and Sociology Division, School of Distance Education, Universiti Sains Malaysia. His research interests include masculinity, male body and sexuality. More specifically his work examines the behaviour, identity- and meaning-making of men within specific social contexts.


REGISTRATION

For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by 30 March 2016.

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