[POSTPONED] The Future of Malay Politics in Malaysia


Due to unforeseen circumstances, the ISEAS seminar by Dr Zambry Abd Kadir “The Future of Malay Politics in Malaysia” (on 31 March 2020 ) will be postponed until further notice. We will update you on the new seminar date and hope you will join us for the event then. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Malaysia in Transition Seminar Series

About the Seminar

Much has been said about the transformation of Malaysian politics, namely the rejection of race-based politics, and one that is based on ideology and ideals. In GE 14, the Pakatan Harapan coalition (comprising of PKR, DAP, Bersatu and Amanah) overthrew Barisan Nasional’s 60-year reign. The election saw the return of Tun Mahathir, who joined and led the opposition coalition, to unseat his former protégé, Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Tun Mahathir, who was renowned for his ultra-Malay stance, showed an uncharacteristic commitment to democratic and institutional reform, embraced Anwar Ibrahim and DAP to bring down Datuk Seri Najib, and formed a government that is against corruption and kleptocracy. But this did not last long. The PH government collapsed after losing its parliamentary majority, and when Tun Mahathir resigned, PH quickly disintegrated when Bersatu quit the PH coalition. This was further compounded by several turncoats within PH, who quickly dissented from their respective parties to join those with potential power. The establishment of Muafakat Nasional which is predominantly led by the Malays and Muslims raises several justifiable concerns. Will the interest of other races be well taken care of, since Malaysia is a multiracial nation? Will charges made against UMNO leaders be regarded as political prosecution so as to avail them the positions in the Malaysian new Cabinet? Malaysia will not augur well if politics continues to be fractured along race and religion.

The seminar examines critical issues prevalent in Malaysian and Malay politics. Why, for many years, despite the Malays dominating leadership positions and the government machinery, they continue to fail to unite and form a cohesive political force? Will the new narrative set forth by the UMNO-PAS pact and the split between PKR and Bersatu yield the desired equilibrium to leadership and governance? As in many marriages of convenience, which had failed due to irreconcilable differences, what will it take for this one to survive? Will the adage that “if other races enter the pact, the Malay agenda will be threatened” continue to haunt Malay politics? And what about the Malays who are fairly comfortable lending their support to DAP and its Malaysian Malaysia ideal? Will the new leadership pursue governance and leadership first or will Malay supremacy remain its main agenda?

This seminar is supported by Temasek Foundation.

About the Speaker

Dr Zambry Abd Kadir was the Chief Minister of Perak (2009–2018). He is currently the State Assemblyman in Perak and serves in the UMNO Supreme Council. He was frequently invited to share his experience and insights through public and academic lectures. He was Adjuct Professor at IIUM Malaysia and Professor in Practice at Putra Business School, UPM. During his tenure as MB, Perak was named “The Most Promising State for International Investment” during the 6th Middle East Business Leaders Awards in Dubai in recognition of the State’s achievements in the commerce and investment sectors in the region. He was also awarded the Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration from the University of East London for his contribution in prospering and transforming the state of Perak. A PhD graduate in Political Thoughts from Temple University, his expertise include political economy, contemporary South East Asian politics and contemporary Malaysian politics.


Mar 31 2020


10:00 am - 11:30 am


ISEAS Seminar Room 2