The Sarawak State Election: A Storm in the Making?


About the Webinar

As the last Sarawak state election occurred in 2016, the state assembly was scheduled to be dissolved by 7th June 2021 for fresh polls. Facing a surge in COVID-19 cases then, a nationwide emergency was declared, with a localised emergency again declared with polls not due until February 2022. In a surprise move, the localised emergency was shortened on 3rd November to pave way for an earlier poll. The forthcoming state election on 18 December has raised speculation that the incumbent Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) is less secure about its position, should elections occur after the implementation of Undi 18. Presently, the opposition is internally divided between the Peninsula-based Pakatan Harapan (PH) and the Sarawak-based Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB). PSB has attracted well-known PH politicians into its fold, including former PKR member Baru Bian.

What are the differences between the 2016 Sarawak state election and the forthcoming election? How important is the youth factor in the upcoming state election? Will restrictions against physical campaigning skew the outcome in favour of the incumbent? What are the chances that PSB would make inroads into power? How will the opposition hold out this time round? What is currently happening on the ground in Sarawak?

In this webinar, our speakers would unpack the electoral outlook for the ruling GPS and opposition, the key concerns of the Sarawak electorate as they head to the polls, and how unresolved grievances may influence election outcomes.

About the Speakers

Meredith Weiss is Professor of Political Science in the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Her research focuses on social mobilization and civil society, collective identity, elections, and subnational governance in Southeast Asia—especially Malaysia and Singapore. Her most recent books are The Roots of Resilience: Party Machines and Grassroots Politics in Southeast Asia (Cornell UP, 2020) and the co-authored Mobilizing for Elections: Patronage and Political Machines in Southeast Asia (Cambridge UP, forthcoming).

Mohd Shazani bin Masri is Lecturer in Politics and Government Studies, Department of Politics and Government, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. He is currently a PhD candidate in the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization and the Malay World, the International Islamic University Malaysia. He attended the London School of Economics and Political Science for his MSc in political theory, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for his BA in Economics and Political Science. His areas of interests include the discourse between Western and non-Western (especially Islamic) philosophical outlook. He also looks into indigenous Sarawak Malay-Muslim epistemology of politics with regards to the conceptualization of Civilization as understood between Western and Islamic worldview.

James Chin is Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Tasmania. He was previously Director of Asia Institute Tasmania. He is also a Senior Fellow, Jeffrey Cheah Institute, Malaysia; and Council Member, Australian Institute of International Affairs in Tasmania. He was previously Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (now ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute). Prof Chin is the leading scholar on contemporary politics in Sabah and Sarawak.


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.

Please register here to receive your unique link for joining the webinar.

Limited spaces only, register early to avoid disappointment.

To join the webinar,
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 speakers, please key in your questions via the Q&A, stating your name and affiliation. The moderator will field them to the speakers during the Q&A session.


Dec 09 2021


9:00 am - 11:00 am