From Pakatan Harapan to Perikatan Nasional in East Malaysia: A Missed Opportunity for Greater Autonomy?


About the Webinar

The states of Sabah and Sarawak joined the Malaysian Federation in 1963, and due to their vast territories, were allocated a large number of parliamentary constituencies. Indeed, Sabah and Sarawak together have 56 parliamentary seats – more than one quarter of the total in Malaysia’s lower house.

Notwithstanding this, concerns over issues such as the share of oil royalties, the scope of state government responsibilities, and their differing ethnic, religious, and linguistic composition, have led to important state-based movements for greater autonomy and rights. Yet, despite these grievances, leaders of Sabah and Sarawak have been unable to leverage their political clout to significantly advance their interests.

This presentation traces the major political developments that occurred in East Malaysia from 2018 to the present, beginning with the advent of the Pakatan Harapan, its substitution by the Perikatan Nasional administration in February 2020, the Sabah state elections in September 2020, and concluding with the recent declaration of Emergency. This presentation will argue that, due to their focus on safeguarding party and personal interests, political elites in Sabah and Sarawak have failed to significantly advance East Malaysian rights and need to rise above party and ethnic sentiments.

About the Speaker

Dr Anantha Raman Govindasamy is an Associate Professor in Politics at the Centre for Promotion of Knowledge and Language Learning, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), and Visiting Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. His research focuses on Malaysian and Southeast Asian politics.


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.


Feb 26 2021


10:00 am - 11:15 am