Seminar: Black Swans in Malaysian Politics
MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME
Black Swans in Malaysian Politics
About the Seminar
Will Prime Minister Najib Razak win the upcoming Malaysian general election, ensuring an uninterrupted Barisan Nasional’s 60-year rule since Independence? Or will the election expected later this year be a black swan jolt for the ruling coalition?
Since the last general election in May 2013, Najib’s standing has taken a beating as a result of multiple financial scandals and unpopular economic decisions such as the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST), and cuts in subsidies to essential items. While Najib’s vulnerability may have been obvious, the Opposition has also had a hard time, suffering major splits and realignments.
Ever since the political tsunami in 2008 and especially after the 2013 election, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) has been pursuing a Malay-centric strategy, including forming a de facto relationship with its erstwhile arch-rival the Islamist party Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), to appeal to the insecurity and fears of the Malay majority.
The current political twist for Malaysia is that the discontent among Malays is at its highest since Anwar Ibrahim’s sacking in September 1998, and the man who sacked Anwar, former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad, is playing a major role in this scenario, as one of the Opposition’s leaders.
Johor, where the speaker represents the parliamentary constituency of Kluang, will be a major electoral battleground in the months to come.
About the Speaker
Liew Chin Tong was elected Member of the Parliament for Kluang in May 2013. He was previously the Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera (2008-2013). Since 1999, Chin Tong has served DAP in various capacities and is now a Member of its Central Executive Committee, and the party’s Political Education Director. He graduated with a degree in Political Science and an honours degree in Asian Studies from the Australian National University, and holds an International Masters in Regional Integration from the Asia-Europe Institute, University of Malaya.
He was the Executive Director of Penang Institute (previously Socio-Economic and Environmental Research Institute, SERI, 2009-2012) and Research for Social Advancement (REFSA, 2007-2011), and was formerly a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Singapore.