Federal-State Relations under the Pakatan Harapan Administration


About the Webinar

On 9th May 2018, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government lost Malaysia’s 14th general election (GE14) and was replaced by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition. The election also saw significant changes at the state level, with PH now controlling seven states compared to its previous two, and BN controlling two compared to its previous eight. Aside from Kelantan, PAS regained Terengganu. The Sabah state government, held by Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) was aligned with PH, while the Sarawak state government was aligned with BN.

Tensions surrounding the centralisation and decentralisation debate have always existed and can be traced back to the nation’s formative years. Ultimately, the 1957 Federal Constitution provides for a strong central government, with many provisions for the federal government to intervene when there is incongruence between federal and the state governments.

The PH (and its predecessor coalition, Pakatan Rakyat) recognised the importance of restoring state autonomy. The PH 2018 election manifesto therefore dedicated 10 out of 60 of its promises to issues related to federalism and Sabah and Sarawak alone, an indication of the two states’ (as well as state issues more generally) growing importance. Federal-state relations was much more aggressively pursued and tackled under the PH government than any other preceding administration.

However, its full track record would not be possible to evaluate given that its term was cut short following the Sheraton Move in February 2020, leading to its premature collapse after less than 22 months in power. This webinar will discuss federal-state relations during the Pakatan Harapan government’s administration from 2018 to 2020, based on Tricia Yeoh’s recently-published ISEAS Trends on the same topic.

About the Speaker

Tricia Yeoh is CEO of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), Visiting Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, and PhD Candidate at the University of Nottingham Malaysia. She is author of States of Reform: Governing Selangor and Penang and editor of several books. She writes and comments on Malaysian public policy issues, and her research focuses on federal-state relations in Malaysia.


This webinar will be delivered online entirely. You can join the webinar at the specified date and time using devices (computer, phone, or tablet) with internet connection.

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For the best experience, please mute your microphone. If you have questions for the speaker, please key in your questions via the Q&A, stating your name and affiliation. The moderator will field them to the speaker during the Q&A session.


Nov 23 2020


10:00 am - 11:15 am