For some people living in the Ampang district in eastern Kuala Lumpur, self-isolation is nothing new. The area is known for its concentration of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, nestled in the grimy apartments and neighbourhoods of this former tin mining centre, and they haven't been going out for a
In the name of containing Covid-19, the Malaysian parliament will be convened for one day later this month, on 18 May. It’s a cynical move, much more about power struggles than containing the virus. The aim is to protect the three-month-old National Alliance (PN) government from scrutiny and a
As Malaysians reeled from the sudden downfall of Mahathir Mohamad, the appointment of Muhyiddin Yassin as Prime Minister, and the return of the former ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, of equal significance is the entry of the Islamist Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) into the government.
Analysis as to how Hanoi might resolve its South China Sea disputes with other claimants has been overshadowed by a near exclusive depiction of its competition with Beijing. Hanoi’s current maritime disputes with Beijing have presented few opportunities for strategic progress. Comparatively, the
Since Malaysia’s remarkable election last year delivered a victory to the Pakatan Harapan coalition, Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah has been struggling to navigate a region increasingly defined by great power competition, whether in trade or the South China Sea. On a trip to
The past 48 hours have been remarkable, even by the standards of Malaysian politics. There now seem to be plans afoot to create a new ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, split and weaken Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), and stop Anwar Ibrahim from succeeding Mahathir Mohammad as Prime Minister.
Small states are states too. They have their own agency, their own interests, and their own preferences, and it is important they do not see the world through the perspectives offered by the US-China binary.
This was the main point of the speech I gave this month in Beijing as Malaysia’s Deputy
If events go according to schedule, Malaysia is set for a leadership transition in 2020. Speaking to a Wall Street CEO conference immediately after the May 2018 election, the then–newly minted Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that he will stay in office for one or two years before handing over
When Malaysia’s Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition ruled the country, it faced an opposition that campaigned on a platform of anti-corruption, free and fair elections, and greater democracy.
BN, led by the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), the largest and most dominant party, ruled
Zakir Naik is an Indian preacher of Islam who currently calls Malaysia home. Described by the Washington Post as a “rock star of tele-evangelism”, he is also a fugitive, having evaded law enforcement in his home country of India since July 2016, when he fled the country within hours of bombers
When Sin Chew Daily, the largest Chinese daily in Malaysia, recently headlined a Ministry of Education proposal to introduce a few pages of calligraphy in the Malay-language textbook for Chinese and Tamil vernacular primary schools, the backlash was immediate.
The reaction went all the way up to
The name Mukhriz Mahathir – son of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad – is in the news once again, mostly by virtue of being the only child in the family to enter into politics.
As a sex video scandal roils the People’s Justice Party (PKR) led by prime minister-in-waiting Anwar
The latest news coming out of Kuala Lumpur may alter the trajectory of Malaysian politics.
On Wednesday night, 23 members of the Parti Keadilan Rakyet (PKR) central committee (half the members of this party leadership group) signed a statement rebuking party president Anwar
It has been an unusually intense time for elections across Southeast Asia in the past year with both a stunning upset and more predictable returns of incumbents.
But the striking thing from a quick tour of some of the main battlefields is how the general absence of clear policy reform debate in
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s latest promise that he “will not go more than three years” in the premiership is the latest in an ongoing saga of leadership succession within the Pakatan Harapan coalition government. While the coalition has insisted that there exists a “signed
In the months leading up to his dramatic return last year as Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad had positioned himself as a strident critic of his predecessor’s approach to China. Mahathir went so far as to accuse former prime minister Najib Razak of selling Malaysia’s sovereignty to
Two years of James Bond-esque intrigue following Kim Jong-nam’s assassination in Malaysia have fizzled out, with backroom negotiations seeing murder charges dropped against the two women previously alleged to have killed the North Korean.
Ultimately, Malaysia didn’t allow detail to get in the
Well, that was short lived. With the rounds of applause that accompanied its historic decision to accede to the Rome Statute still reverberating, on 5 April Malaysia announced it will withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC). In the space of just a month, the Malaysian government has
On Monday, Malaysia ratified the Rome Statute, making it the 124th State party to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The decision to join the ICC after 20 years of resistance is not only a welcome development but highlights the importance of long-term persistence in the pursuit of human rights
Malaysia’s political upheaval looks likely to drag on for years. A three judge panel has granted former prime minister Najib Razak a last minute stay in a corruption trial, which had been set to begin in the High Court last week.
Rather than the charges and a political changing of the guard
Australia has presented itself as a defender of the international “rules-based order” in response to rising challenges facing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). In particular, Canberra has directed its concerns towards China’s actions in the South China Sea and
Breaking up is hard to do, judging by the Malaysian government’s latest contortions over how to handle a US $20 billion Chinese-backed rail project of questionable economic value.
The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) is one of several high-profile Chinese infrastructure deals signed by previous prime
Speaking at the ASEAN summit in Singapore this month, Malaysia’s “new” Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad gave counterpart Aung San Suu Kyi a taste of his notoriously acerbic mind. As one of three Muslim leaders present at the gathering, Mahathir made clear Suu Kyi was “defending the
Horror stories have trickled out of China’s Xinjiang province for years. Now research points to a flood of human suffering and disturbing human rights abuses. Yet with threats of China’s economic retribution, many countries have been reluctant to voice concern against Beijing. With
In October 2016, a group of four students stood in front of a public forum at the Universiti Malaya and declared “students want answers”. They had attended an event featuring the CEO of 1MDB, Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund established by former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who, along with
Impulsive yet calculating, persuasive but often authoritarian, a visionary obsessed with details, Mahathir Mohamad’s first tenure as prime minister from 1981-2003 undoubtedly left a deep imprint on Malaysia. Credible achievements marked his tenure, including prudent macroeconomic management,
Australia can probably thank China’s amorphous Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for helping push over the line the bilateral trade agreement that Prime Minister Scott Morrison will claim as his first diplomatic triumph on Friday.
The key breakthrough in the agreement is set to
Since returning to power after his stunning election victory in May 2018, the 93–year–old Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has made a series of comments reflective of weaker states’ views of the evolving Asian order in the Trump–Xi era. These include a firmer stance on the South
Malaysia is not usually a country that comes to mind when one thinks of where the geopolitical initiative lies in the Asia-Pacific. That accolade goes first to China, of course, the rising power in the region, and second to Japan, the state most capable of leading any regional counter-initiative
Who is right in the territorial dispute between the Philippines and Malaysia over Sabah is a question best not asked. In answer, each side will reaffirm their absolute sovereign claim to Sabah, on the northern part of the island of Borneo, and mutual recriminations will result.
While the world is watching Malaysia, trying to explain the unexpected victory of Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) in last month’s elections, what is actually more important is the massive clean-up currently underway in the country.
By clean-up, I mean a near-total replacement of all key
Malaysians have rejected Barisan Nasional so overwhelmingly that the electoral system designed to protect its rule has been overcome. The party received its lowest popular vote in history, around 36%, and won only 79 seats in a 222-seat federal parliament.
The once multiracial coalition has
What a difference an election makes. Malaysia’s 14th general elections on Wednesday were understood by all observers to be a close-fought battle between the long-ruling Barisan Nasional regime, the Islamist Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), and a new opposition coalition named Pakatan Harapan (
It has been 20 years since I spent the evening at former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim’s house after he was sacked by then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad. That night, I thought the mood on the street outside meant Malaysia might be about to become a genuine multi-ethnic democracy.
Not many people give Malaysia’s opposition a chance of ending the 13-election winning streak of the ruling Barisan Nasional party when the country goes to the polls on Wednesday.
“For a government to rule for 60 years in a democracy, it shows there is something wrong with the country,”
“Cak!” says the Malaysian meme circulating on Twitter since Monday. The Malay expression is often used with children, and means something like “Surprise!”, or, better, “Peekaboo!” In the background is a press photo from the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit which took place
M.I.A, the world’s most celebrated Tamil rapper, uses modern Tamil melodies and rhythms in her work, but does not actually rap in Tamil. She is British, but the majority of artists who write and perform hip-hop in this classical language are Malaysian.
Malaysia has a sizeable South-Asian
In media studios, food courts, street stalls, and offices, I watch Malaysian political observers and insiders perform the same routine.
First, they sigh and look bored with the coming general election, due sometime before August. They talk of the lack of debate and point&