Malaysia’s Institutional Reforms: Accountable Government, Public Interest, Basic Rights

Malaysia in Transition Seminar Series


About the Seminar

Pakatan Harapan’s pathbreaking victory in Malaysia’s 14th General Elections has heightened expectations of institutional reform. Buku Harapan, the coalition’s manifesto, designated institutional reforms as the second of its five pillars, with the overarching objectives of keeping government accountable, upholding the public interest, and safeguarding basic rights. The extensive and ambitious agenda encompasses promises to establish independence and parliamentary oversight of public institutions, curb the powers of the executive, expand civil liberties and democratic space, and repeal repressive laws. Reforms in these areas are widely regarded as necessary, constructive, and timely.

Malaysia exudes hope, optimism, and potential, but this historical juncture also calls for sober reality checks. Can the new parliament and Mahathir’s second Prime Ministership deliver on their promises, and undo the executive dominance and anti-democratic norms that became entrenched under Mahathir’s previous, long tenure? Will social pressures, political reconfigurations and Harapan’s coalition maintenance sustain the momentum, or distract the agenda? In this seminar, two eminent activists and thought leaders critically examine the contents, opportunities and challenges of institutional reforms in post-GE14 Malaysia.

About the Speakers

Cynthia Gabriel, a seasoned advocate of human rights and good governance, co-founded Malaysia’s Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) in 2014. She is also co-founder of the Asia Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM ASIA), and is currently an elected board member of the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) coalition of 400 organisations worldwide. She served as City Councillor in Petaling Jaya from 2008 to 2015.

Dr Azmi Sharom is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya. He teaches human rights law and international environmental law. He is the current convener of the Southeast Asian Human Rights and Peace Studies Network and editor of their “Human Rights Peace in Southeast Asia Outlook” series. Azmi has frequently written on human rights and democratic reforms in his column in The Star, Malaysia’s largest English newspaper.

For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 16 July 2018.


Jul 17 2018


10:00 am - 11:30 am


ISEAS Seminar Room 2