Malaysian Political Dynamics: The Making and Remaking of Political Alignments and Social Cohesion


About the Webinar

Since the fall of the UMNO-led Barisan Nasional (BN) government in May 2018, Malaysia has been characterised by political instability, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. The Pakatan Harapan government that took over power from BN could last only 22 months. Its successor, Perikatan Nasional (PN) – a hastily cobbled Malay-Islamic based political coalition of BERSATU-PAS-UMNO – is fractious and riddled with deep-seated conflicts internally, especially between BERSATU and UMNO. The tension between PN and the Palace has added another dimension to the political instability and intrigue. Malaysians throughout the country who have suffered tremendous hardships from the public health and economic crises are restless, and demand closure and an effective solution.

At the webinar, Professor Rahman Embong will discuss these developments, comparing the fissures and alignments within the Malaysian body politic with previous episodes in Malaysia’s history, and drawing out the distinctive features of the present in light of the past. He will also analyse the continuous political manoeuvring on the one hand, and the citizens’ responses and the building of social solidarity and cohesion on the other. He will then consider possible outcomes of these dynamics in terms of new political alignments and governance.

About the Speaker

Dato’ Dr Abdul Rahman Embong is Emeritus Professor in the Sociology of Development at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. He was Principal Research Fellow at IKMAS for more than two decades until his retirement in January 2018. He is a founding member and Fellow of the Academy of Professors Malaysia, and Head of the Academy’s Cluster on Social Cohesion & National Unity. He was President of the Malaysian Social Science Association (PSSM) from 2000 to 2010, and has continued as PSSM’s Special Advisor until today. He has authored many books, journal articles, and book chapters. One of his key works is State-led Modernization and the New Middle Class in Malaysia (Palgrave 2002). He has co-edited two books published by ISEAS: Globalization and National Autonomy: The Experience of Malaysia, and Transforming Malaysia: Dominant and Competing Paradigms.


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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1. Install the Zoom client onto your computer or download the app on your mobile device.
2. Click on the unique link in your email.

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.


Aug 25 2021


10:00 am - 11:15 am