Conference on Malaysian Elections: The Outlook for GE14



About the Conference

It was widely expected that Prime Minister Najib Razak would dissolve parliament and call for elections in 2017 to pre-empt the possible gains in organisation and popularity by the opposition, with former Prime Minister Mahathir at the helm. However, now that this window of opportunity has closed, Malaysia must hold General Elections in 2018 – by mid-August at the very latest.

As 2017 ends, the country’s political climate is marked by flux and uncertainty, with recurrently reported discontent toward rising living costs and economic insecurity, as well as a realignment of political coalitions and mixed sentiments among Malay and East Malaysian voters.

This conference will discuss contexts, trends and preliminary findings regarding the country’s electorate, political parties and coalitions. Drawing on information from a range of sources, such as key informant interviews, focus group discussions, and statistical analysis, the sessions will be organized along demographic, operational, and geographic lines.

The first panel will consider political dynamics within the Malay population, with separate analysis of rural and urban voters. UMNO maintains its stronghold in Malay majority constituencies, especially in rural areas, but the heightened conflict between Najib and Mahathir and the formation of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia underscore the importance of securing Malay votes, and of probing current issues and trends.

The second panel will analyse the ‘craft’ of campaigning, specifically the effects of two instruments: money politics and cash handouts; and social media. The panellists will reflect on how technological and practical developments in these spheres might play out in GE14.

The remaining three panels cover the pre-election situation in six key states. They are: the wealthy and urbanized states of Selangor and Johor; the rural ‘heartlands’ of Kedah and Kelantan; and the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak. The local-level contests in these states are, in many ways, separate political battles – although, collectively, the election results will have weighty implications for Malaysia.

Conference Programme

Download the programme here.

Attendance at this event is free of charge but registration is required by 8 December 2017. As seats are limited, please register early. Admission to the event will be taken as confirmed upon written acceptance from ISEAS.

To register, please complete this form and return it by fax: 6775-6264 or email to by Friday, 8 December 2017.

For any queries, please feel free to email:


Dec 13 2017


8:45 am - 5:10 pm


ISEAS Seminar Room 1 & 2