Seminar: Betrayal, Sacred Landscapes, and Stories of Justice Among Tamils in Malaysia

 

MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME

 

About the Seminar

Malaysia’s multiethnic ideology is premised upon an ideal of hospitality that simultaneously announces its own impossibility through the marking of legal ethno-nationalist rights and privileges. The performativity of the Law has been increasingly revealed to Malaysian Tamils through a series of recent events that have left them questioning the civility of their country. Specifically, the demolitions of temples and the acquisitions of land by the State, forced conversions, and the dispossession of Tamil plantation workers have precipitated doubts. I argue that the force of law within the ethno-nationalist state is haunted by a fragmentation of memory and experience among Tamils. This is wrought by a sense of “betrayal” by the State upon an increasingly sacralized landscape. Among Tamil Hindus, notions of divine justice have become fused with possessive and sometimes violent imaginaries. Tamil notions of divine justice are revealed to be a form of compensation, albeit one grounded in a growing victim’s narrative. Through my interlocutors and collaborators, I have come to critique the Law, as mutually understood through the ethnographic encounter. At the same time, I have strategically utilized empathy in the face of great hospitality, whilst recoiling, at times, from the implications that accompany calls of justice. I conclude with a meditation upon the ethics of critique by suggesting the ethnographic betrayal is both painful and necessary.


About the Speaker

Andrew Willford is Professor of Anthropology at Cornell University. Professor Willford’s work characteristically explores psychological aspects of selfhood, identity, and subjectivity within a matrix of power and statecraft. His previous research has focused upon Tamil displacement, revivalism, and identity politics in Malaysia and India. A recent book, Tamils and the Haunting of Justice: History and Recognition in Malaysia’s Plantations (University of Hawaii Press/Singapore University Press, 2014) examines how Tamil plantation communities face the uncertainties of retrenchment and relocation in Malaysia. Other books include: Cage of Freedom: Tamil Identity and the Ethnic Fetish in Malaysia (University of Michigan Press, 2006; Singapore University Press, 2006), Spirited Politics: Religion and Public Life in Contemporary Southeast Asia, Andrew Willford and Kenneth George, eds. (Southeast Asia Program Publications, Cornell University, 2005); and Clio/Anthropos: Exploring the Boundaries between History and Anthropology, Andrew Willford and Eric Tagliacozzo, eds. (Stanford University Press, 2009).


Registration

For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by 1 June 2016.

 

Seminar: Has Malaysian Islam been Salafized?

 

MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME SEMINAR

 

About the Seminar

Recent surveys have worryingly suggested that there has been a rise in the level of extremism among Muslims in Malaysia, although the majority remain moderate in orientation. This tallies with media reports on increasing numbers of Malay-Muslim youth harbouring attraction towards radical Islamist movements such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This presentation posits that the form of Islam that is normatively understood and practised in Malaysia i.e. Malaysian Islam, has undergone myriad changes as a result of gradual internalization of the Wahhabi brand of Salafism since the 1970s. Salafization, referring to a process of mindset and attitudinal transformation rather than the growth of Salafi nodes per se, is not restricted to individuals or groups identified as ‘Salafi’, but rather affects practically all levels of Malay-Muslim society, cutting across political parties, governmental institutions and non-state actors. Powered by petrodollars, this new wave of Salafization has eclipsed an earlier Salafi trend which spawned the Kaum Muda reformist movement. It has also resulted in Islamist, rather than Islamic, ideals increasingly defining the tenor of mainstream Islam in Malaysia, with debilitating consequences in the fields of both intra-Muslim and inter-religious relations. However, the Malay-Muslim powers that be in Malaysia conveniently ignore the Wahhabi-Salafi onslaught for expedient reasons, thus putting social pluralism at stake.

About the Speaker

AHMAD FAUZI ABDUL HAMID is Visiting Senior Fellow, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, and Professor of Political Science, School of Distance Education, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang, Malaysia. Trained as a political scientist and political economist at the universities of Oxford, Leeds and Newcastle, UK, his research interests lie within the field of political Islam in Southeast Asia. Ahmad Fauzi has published over forty scholarly articles in leading journals such as Indonesia and the Malay World, Islamic Studies, Asian Studies Review, Southeast Asian Studies, Asian Journal of Political Science, Japanese Journal of Political Science, Asian Survey, Pacific Affairs, Sojourn and Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations. He regularly contributes book chapters to edited volumes, the most recent being ‘Sociopolitical Developments in West Asia and Their Impact on Christian Minorities in the Region’, in Felix Wilfred (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Christianity in Asia (New  York: Oxford University Press, 2014); ‘The Hudud Controversy in Malaysia: Religious Probity or Political Expediency?’, in Daljit Singh (ed.), Southeast Asian Affairs 2015 (Singapore: ISEAS, 2015); and ‘Globalization of Islamic Education in Southeast Asia’, in Ken Miichi and Omar Farouk (eds.), Southeast Asian Muslims in the Era of Globalization (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Ahmad Fauzi has published three research monographs, namely Islamic Education in Malaysia (RSIS, 2010), Political Islam and Islamist Politics in Malaysia (ISEAS, 2013) and Middle Eastern Influences on Islamist Organizations in Malaysia: The Cases of ISMA, IRF and HTM (ISEAS, 2016 – co-authored with Che Hamdan Che Mohd. Razali). His latest contribution to knowledge, published in April 2016, is an article in ISEAS’s flagship journal, Contemporary Southeast Asia, vol. 38, no. 1 (2016), pp. 28-54, entitled ‘Syariahization of Intra-Muslim Religious Freedom and Human Rights Practice in Malaysia: The Case of Darul Arqam’. Earlier this month, Ahmad Fauzi featured in a panel discussion on ‘Islam in the Contemporary World’ in Channel News Asia’s ‘Between the Lines’ talkshow.

Registration
For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by 24 May 2016.

 

Seminar: Political and Economic Risk in Malaysia beyond 1MDB

 

MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME


About the Seminar

Two years into the full-blown 1MDB saga which shows no sign of abating, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak remains in office with his detractors – particularly Dr Mahathir Mohamad – admitting they need outside help and prosecution to unseat the man who is arguably the most unpopular prime minister to date.

Despite the unpopularity and a world that shows no tolerance for abuse at the political top, Najib remains in office with no challenger in sight. But the economy is floundering due to low prices of oil and commodities, the retail sector is slowing and the only bright spark is a recovering ringgit and a stock index which remains robust due to the services and manufacturing sectors.

What is in store for Najib and Co, the effects on the opposition and the outcome of the Sarawak Elections in May and also the general elections which must be called by mid-2018. Jahabar Sadiq goes through the saga and the scenarios that could develop for the next 12 months.

About the Speaker

Jahabar Sadiq was the Chief Executive Officer and Editor of The Malaysian Insider, Malaysia’s fastest growing news portal until it was shut down on March 15, 2016, and has been a journalist in print, news wires, television, radio and internet since 1988. He was a senior producer with Reuters Television, the international news and information broadcast agency, from 1998 to 2009, interviewing world leaders, captains of industry and others from Afghanistan to East Timor. He had also had an earlier stint in Reuters as a political and economic news correspondent and was briefly a producer in AP Television. He started his career in the New Straits Times and spent a year in Business Times before joining Reuters.

Registration
For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by 27 April 2016.

 

Seminar: Adenan, Autonomy, and the Alternatives: Sarawak Decides 2016

 

MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME

 

About the Seminar

A recently published survey by a respected pollster indicated that Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem’s popularity has soared among Sarawakians from 74 percent in July 2015 to 81 percent in January 2016. The new Chief Minister is not only popular among the Bumiputera voters who form the backbone of Barisan Nasional (BN) support but also among ethnic Chinese who overwhelmingly voted for the opposition in the 2011 state elections. Many believe that Adenan’s popularity will help to swing the Chinese votes, thus enabling the BN to consolidate its electoral dominance in Sarawak. However, some skeptics argue that the Chinese ground is not moving significantly enough to the BN because there are lingering issues and problems that the new Chief Minister has yet to resolve. Another interesting and significant development going into the 2016 elections is the rise of Sarawak nationalism. The manifestations of this sentiment vary from the call for greater autonomy to the more extreme call for secession from the Federation of Malaysia. It is believed that the rise of Sarawak nationalism may erode the popularity of federal opposition parties. However, some quarters argue that the ruling party had played the sentiment of Sarawak nationalism in the previous state elections and this did not stop close to 40 percent voters to vote for DAP and PKR. With so many questions raised over the impact of Adenan’s popularity and Sarawak nationalism, how will the 2016 elections pan out? Will Sarawakians decide to go for Adenan’s promise of hope and greater autonomy or will they continue to demand for change? These questions are the focus of the presentation.

About the Speaker

Faisal S. Hazis is the Head of Centre for Asian Studies and Senior Fellow at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. His research interests include electoral politics, state-society relations, democracy and civil movements. Dr Faisal has studied Sarawak politics for over 18 years and published numerous books and articles on the subject. Among the notable ones are Domination and Contestation: the Muslim Bumiputera Politics in Sarawak (ISEAS Press), ‘The Politics of Development in Sarawak’ (UKM Press) and ‘Patronage, Power and Prowess: Barisan Nasional’s Dominance in East Malaysia’ (USM Press).

Registration
For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by 21 April 2016.

 

Seminar: Intimate Citizenship of Non-heteronormative Malay Men in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia: A Comparative Study

 

MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME

ABOUT THE SEMINAR

The presentation investigates the interplay of gender, sexual, ethnic, religious and national identities of Malay non-heteronormative men by comparing cases in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. The Malays are singled-out not only because of their largely shared ethnic, cultural, and historical heritages even as they are physically and politically separated by post-colonial national boundaries, but also because these similarities allow for comparisons. By adopting the comparative study strategy and Ken Plummer’s (2003) conceptual model of intimate citizenship, the presentation aims to answer these questions: What are the similarities and differences in the lived experiences of Malay non-heteronormative men in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore?; What are the similarities and differences in the ways these men express their non-heteronormativities within specific and local gender, sexual, ethnic, religious, and nationalist discourses?; and How do they negotiate and navigate zones of intimacy?

By adopting the comparative study approach and conceptual model of intimate citizenship, this presentation hopes to shed light on how Malay non-heteronormative men negotiate their masculinity, sexuality, ethnicity, religious and national identities within the realms of nationalism, citizenship and the international discourse of sexual citizenship.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Chua Hang Kuen is an early career researcher who completed his PhD at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University in Melbourne. Dr Chua is currently a lecturer and researcher in Anthropology and Sociology Division, School of Distance Education, Universiti Sains Malaysia. His research interests include masculinity, male body and sexuality. More specifically his work examines the behaviour, identity- and meaning-making of men within specific social contexts.

 

REGISTRATION

For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by 30 March 2016.

 

Conference: The Malaysian Economy towards 2020: Issues and Challenges

 

MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME & REGIONAL ECONOMIC STUDIES 

 

ABOUT THE CONFERENCE
Malaysia’s ambition to become a developed nation by the year 2020 was first articulated in 1991.  The “Vision 2020” goal has explicitly and implicitly influenced medium and long-term development planning in Malaysia for the past 25 years.  As the year 2020 approaches, the Malaysian economy has grown at a pace below the annual growth target of six percent set in the Tenth Malaysia Plan (2011-2015).  This has been partly due to the adverse global economic conditions in recent years.  Thus, the goal of achieving robust economic sufficient to achieve developed nation status will remain a significant challenge for Malaysian policymakers.


ABOUT THE PROGRAMME

Please click here.

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS
This conference brings together prominent economists working on various aspects of the Malaysian economy with the goal of examining and assessing the extent to which the  government’s current economic policies are able to address the challenges of achieving a developed country status by the year 2020.

REGISTRATION
Attendance to the conference is free of charge but registration is required by 18 March 2016. To register, please fill up this form as linked. As seats are limited, please register early.  Admission to the conference can only be taken as confirmed upon receiving the written acceptance from ISEAS. For any queries, please feel free to e-mail <iseasevents3@iseas.edu.sg>.

 

Seminar: Consequences of Development-induced Displacement in the Greater Klang Valley Region: “Despair to Hope” among Tamils

 

MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME

ABOUT THE SEMINAR

The displacement of Indian communities from the former plantation areas of the greater Klang Valley region (GKVR) of Selangor State in Malaysia (GKVR), and their subsequent forced movement to squatter areas and high-rise low cost housing led to their becoming a part of the lowest bottom 40 percent of Malaysian society. Simmering frustration over their deteriorating socioeconomic situation finally culminated in the massive protest, led by HINDRAF (Hindu Rights Action Force), in Kuala Lumpur in November 2007. Subsequently, the 2008 and 2013 General Elections saw a decline of support from Indians for Barisan Nasional (BN), the ruling coalition, as well as the diminution of the Malaysian Indian Congress, a party that represented Indians in the ruling coalition.

Various projects have been implemented to address and redress the plight of the Indians by various interest groups, NGOs, political parties, middle-class Indians as well as Tamil newspapers and writers championing their cause in the proposed 11th Malaysian Plan. The seminar will recount the political maneuvering among these groups to emerge as champions of the displaced and working class Indians. The discussion would also present findings by the author in a recent fieldwork carried out in the GKVR.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

A Mani is Visiting Senior Fellow, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute and Emeritus Professor, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan, where he has been associated with since 2000. Currently, Dr Mani still teaches at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University on subjects related to South East Asia and South Asia. Mani has also previously worked at the Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, and the University of Brunei Darussalam. He has edited four books relating to Indians in Southeast Asia and his academic areas of interest include education, ethnicity and migration.

REGISTRATION
For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by 10 March 2016.

 

 

Seminar: Melting Mosh Pit: Extreme Music Performance in Multi-ethnic Malaysia, 2010-2015

 

MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME

ABOUT THE SEMINAR

This seminar focuses on the way in which globalised extreme music – defined as a concoction of modern, extreme fringes of heavy metal and punk – manifests itself in Malaysia. A multi-ethnic, multi-religious and fast developing Southeast Asian society where class and ethnicity mark physical, sociocultural and political space, the construction and negotiation of ‘authentic’ extreme music identities in Malaysia are affected by both the global-local music scene dynamics and pre-existing markers of ethnic identity. Malaysian social reality is highly fractured between ‘everyday-defined’ and ‘authority-defined’ contexts – constructed by those who are part of the nation’s dominant power structure, and who ‘represent’ its ascribed Malay majority. As such, the performance of extreme music is seemingly dependent not only upon the authenticity-defined boundaries of global extreme music performance, but also upon the friction between ‘everyday-defined’ and ‘authority-defined’ spheres of ethnicised Malaysian society.

Data collected through insider ethnography and in-depth interviews with 40 multi-ethnic Malaysian extreme music scene’s participants in different locales in West and East Malaysia suggest two main findings. First, extreme music in the early 2010s Malaysia is performed by referencing metal and punk’s authenticating global codes. Second, pre-existing markers of ethnic identity influence the construction of diverse Malaysian extreme music identities, creating ‘sedimented hybrids’. These multi-layered identities blend pre-existing socio-political, ethnic, religious, or policing aspects of Malaysian ethnic identity with the buttress provided by global ‘authenticating’ codes of extreme music performance.

On the one hand, the Malay-Muslim majority in Malaysia performs extreme music by respecting the boundaries set by both authenticity-defined globalising subcultural models, and clashing with authority-defined Malaysian social reality. On the other hand, ethnic minorities demonstrate less dependency on authority-definitions, using extreme music as a site for social empowerment and construction of ethnically-transcending Malaysian identities. Regardless of this major distinction, the narratives of all ethnic groups represented in this study suggest that between 2010 and 2015, Malaysian extreme music configures a social space where inter-ethnic solidarity and discourses are significantly promoted at an accessible grassroots level that is not limited to Malaysia’s artistic and cultural elite.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Marco Ferrarese is a musician, freelance travel writer, author and Ph.D. candidate at Monash University Malaysia. He has played guitar, recorded and toured internationally with Italian metal-punk band The Nerds until 2007, before relocating to the People’s Republic of China to teach languages at Hebei Normal University of Science and Technology, Qinhuangdao. He has been teaching, travelling and researching in the greater Asian region since 2008, with a particular focus on Insular Southeast Asia and its extreme music scenes. He is the author of novel Nazi Goreng (Monsoon Books, 2013) – currently banned in Malaysia – and Banana Punk Rawk Trails: A Euro-Fool’s Metal Punk Journeys in Malaysia, Borneo and Indonesia (SIRD, 2016). He also currently plays guitar and records with thrash-core band WEOT SKAM in Penang, Malaysia.

REGISTRATION
For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by 9 March 2016.

 

 

Seminar/Book Launch: Meeting Malaysia’s Unfinished Past

 

MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME

 


Discussion and Launch of
Drifting into Politics: The Unfinished Memoirs of Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman
(ISEAS 2015). Edited by Tawfik Tun Dr Ismail and Ooi Kee Beng
Panellists:
Barbara W. Andaya, Leonard Y. Andaya, Tawfik Tun Dr Ismail and Ooi Kee Beng

ABOUT THE SEMINAR
The riots of May 13, 1969 in Kuala Lumpur precipitated profound changes in the practice and rationale of politics in Malaysia, and in the structure of power itself. One of the most difficult jobs during those tumultuous times was done by Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman. Called back from recuperative retirement to again serve as the home affairs minister put a great strain on his health. Known as a fair man who could not stand fools, his style of leadership won him great respect among the various ethnic communities and from others who knew him including Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew.

Tun Dr Ismail had until his decision to leave the government in 1966 served Malaysia in many capacities, as the country’s first ambassador to the United States and its first permanent representative to the United Nations, minister of commerce and industry, and minister of internal security, and of home affairs, among others. He passed away suddenly of a heart attack on August 2, 1973, and it continues to be debated what path Malaysia would have taken had Tun Dr Ismail lived to succeed Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, to whom he served as deputy from 1970 to 1973.
Among his private papers, which are housed at ISEAS Library, was his unfinished autobiography. This has now been published, and is the third volume about the man that has been published by ISEAS Publishing since the papers were presented for safekeeping to the Institute in 2005. The other two are the Reluctant Politician: Tun Dr Ismail and His Time (2006) and Malaya’s First Year at the United Nations as Reflected in Dr Ismail’s Reports Home to Tunku Abdul Rahman (2009).

These papers were preserved at home for 30 years by Tun Dr Ismail’s eldest son, Tawfik, who is now a spokesman and member of the G25 group of former civil servants who are among those calling for administrative and political reforms in the country. Tawfik is presently being investigated for sedition on having called for the disbandment of the Department of Islamic Development (Jakim). He has for many years been reminding Malaysians about the contemporary importance and significance of his father’s legacy.

Leonard and Barbara Andaya are the authors of one of the most appreciated books on Malaysian history—A History of Malaysia (1982/2000). They began their close association with the country in 1970, and are completing the much-awaited third edition of their book while based at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. In this seminar, they revisit those early years to provide a brief historical overview of Malaysian politics.

ABOUT THE PANELLISTS
BARBARA WATSON ANDAYA
(BA and Diploma of Education, Sydney; MA Hawai‘i, Ph.D. Cornell) is Visiting Senior Fellow at ISEAS –Yusof Ishak Institute. She is Professor and Chair of Asian Studies at the University of Hawai‘i. Between 2003 and 2010 she was Director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies and in 2005-06 she was President of the American Association of Asian Studies. In 2000 she received a John Simon Guggenheim Award, and in 2010 she received the University of Hawai‘i Regents Medal for Excellence in Research.

She has lived and taught in Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, the Netherlands, and the United States. Her specific area of expertise is the western Malay-Indonesia archipelago, on which she has published widely, but she maintains an active teaching and research interest across all Southeast Asia.

Her publications include Perak, The Abode of Grace: A Study of an Eighteenth Century Malay State (1979), co-editor Tuhfat al-Nafis (The Precious Gift) (1982), co-author A History of Malaysia (1982; revised edition, 2000); To Live as Brothers: Southeast Sumatra in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (1993); The Flaming Womb: Repositioning Women in Early Modern Southeast Asia (2006), a Choice Outstanding Academic Book for 2007. Her most recent book (with Leonard Y. Andaya) is A History of Early Modern Southeast Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2015), and a third edition of A History of Malaysia will appear this year. Her present project is a history of religious interaction in Southeast Asia, 1511-1800.

LEONARD Y. ANDAYA is Visiting Senior Fellow at ISEAS –Yusof Ishak Institute. He is a professor of Southeast Asian history at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu. He has written extensively on the early modern history of Southeast Asia, particularly on Indonesia and Malaysia.

His most recent books are Leaves of the Same Tree: Trade and Ethnicity in the Straits of Melaka (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2008), and with Barbara Watson Andaya a History of Early Modern Southeast Asia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. They are also currently writing a third edition of A History of Malaysia to be published by Palgrave.
He is currently writing a history of eastern Indonesia in the early modern period.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Tawfik Tun Dr Ismail was Member of Parliament for Sungei Benut, Johor (1986 to 1990). He founded Johor’s first international school, now relocated to Sungei Buloh, Selangor as IGB International School (IGBIS).

In January 2015, he joined “G25 Malaysia”, an informal group of Malay Muslims seeking to redress anomalies between Shariah laws and the Federal Constitution. Tawfik has been particularly vocal about the restoration of powers of the State Rulers over Islamic matters as provided for in the Constitution, which had now passed into the hands of the federal government. He is one of the editors of the G25 Malaysia book, Breaking the Silence: Voices of Moderation (2015). He also co-edited “Malaya’s First Year at the UN” (2010) and “Drifting into Politics: The Unfinished Memoirs of Tun Dr Ismail” (2015), and facilitated source work for Ooi Kee Beng’s “The Reluctant Politician: Tun Dr Ismail and His Time” (2006).

Tawfik received his education at Sheridan School, Washington DC, USA (1957-1959), St John’s Institution, Kuala Lumpur (1959-1966), the Royal Military College (1967) and Geelong Grammar School, Melbourne, Australia, (1968-1971). He studied History and Politics at the University of New England (1972 to 1974), and Jurisprudence at University College, University of Oxford (1975 to 1977). While attached to the Malaysian International Merchant Bankers (1978-1981), he set up Malaysia’s first mini money market in Penang; and while working for Fleet Group Sdn Bhd (1981 to 1986), he was Director of the Bank of Commerce, now morphed into CIMB; Director of American Malaysian Insurance; Director of Fleet Telecommunications, during which he introduced Malaysia’s first Cellphone Network; Secretary to the Board of New Straits Times Berhad; and Chairman of the task force to set up Malaysia’s first private commercial television station.

OOI KEE BENG is the Deputy Director of ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. He is editor of Trends in Southeast Asia (ISEAS); and founder-editor of ISEAS Perspective and ISEAS Monitor, as well as Penang Monthly. He is a columnist for The Edge Malaysia.

He writes extensively on Malaysian politics and history, and on Asian nation building. His The Reluctant Politician: Tun Dr Ismail and His Time (2006) won the “Award of Excellence for Best Writing Published in Book Form on Any Aspect of Asia (Non-Fiction)” at the Asian Publishing Convention Awards 2008, while Continent, Coast, Ocean: Dynamics of Regionalism in Eastern Asia, was named “Top Academic Work” in 2008 by the ASEAN Book Publishers Association (ABPA).
Other major works include The Eurasian Core and Its Edges – Dialogues with Wang Gungwu on the History of the World (2015); Lim Kit Siang – Defying the Odds (2015); Young and Malay: Growing Up in Multicultural Malaysia (2015); “Drifting Into Politics: The Unfinished Memoirs of Tun Dr Ismail (2016); In Lieu of Ideology: An Intellectual Biography of Goh Keng Swee (2010); Malaya’s First Year at the United Nations (2009, co-edited with Tawfik Ismail); and Lost in Transition: Malaysia under Abdullah (2008).

REGISTRATION
For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by 12 February 2016.

 

Seminar: The National Unity Blueprint: Redefining “Unity” in Malaysia

 

MALAYSIA STUDIES PROGRAMME 

ABOUT THE SEMINAR
The phrase ‘national unity and integration’ appeared in an official document in Malaysia for the first time in 1971. It was in the five-year plan document called Second Malaysia Plan 1971-75 (1971) in which the well-known New Economic Policy (NEP) was spelt out, which had two-prong objectives; (i) to eradicate poverty, and (ii) to restructure society. The over-riding ultimate goal of NEP was to bring about ‘national unity and integration’ in the country. In 1991, Prime Minister Mahathir introduced his Vision 2020 with the ultimate aim of creating ‘a united Malaysian nation.’ Two decades later, in 2009, Najib introduced his 1Malaysia concept promoting an inclusive Malaysia within the framework of Vision 2020. After 45 years the elusive ‘unity’ has not been achieved. What then has Malaysia achieved during that period?

Many claimed that during that period Malaysia achieved impressive economic growth, experienced political stability, and enjoyed relatively harmonious ethnic relations. Indeed, quite frequently on the international stage, Malaysia has been perceived as a ‘model developing economy’ or ‘moderate Islamic majority country.’ Domestically, Malaysian political leadership, on both sides of the divide, continues to worry about the state of ‘national unity’ because they claim that the state of ethnic relations is worsening. As a result, a National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) was established in September 2013, tasked to produce a Blueprint for National Unity by 2015. The Blueprint has been endorsed, first, by the Prime Minister, then by the Malaysian Cabinet of Ministers, and eventually the Chief Ministers and Mentri Besars. The present seminar focuses not only on the making of the Blueprint but also the reconceptualization of ‘unity’ that informed it cast against the general background of Malaysia post-1998 Reformasi.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Distinguished Professor Shamsul A.B. is one of the only four Distinguished Professors in Malaysia to date. Currently, he is Deputy Chair, National Council of Professors, Malaysia (with 2500 members), the Pro-Tem Chair, Academy of Social Science & Humanities, Malaysia and, as of January 1 2016, appointed as Member, of the newly formed Malaysia’s National Science Council (NSC) chaired by the Prime Minister of Malaysia. He is the architect of the Malaysian Blueprint for National Unity 2015. Trained as a social anthropologist in Malaysia and Australia, he was a post-doctoral fellow at the CNRS, Paris, in 1986. Since 1973, he has researched, lectured and published extensively on the theme ‘economic development, culture and politics,’ with an empirical focus on maritime Southeast Asia and Malaysia.

He is often consulted by public and private sector interests on matters relating to risk study/issues. He also comments on local and international mass media, on history and current affairs of the region, such as in the Al-Jazeera, National Geographic Channel, Channel News Asia, BBC London, ABC Melbourne, and Wall Street Journal. For successfully promoting Asian Studies globally, in 2008, he was awarded the prestigious Academic Prize, Fukuoka Cultural Award, Japan, the only second Malaysian to have received the award since its inception in 1990.

REGISTRATION
For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents2@iseas.edu.sg by the morning of 25 January 2016.