Edging Towards New Politics? Reflections on Malaysia’s Democracy after GE14


After decades of authoritarian rule by the Barisan Nasional coalition, a new alliance, Pakatan Harapan, was voted in in 2018, marking Malaysia’s first-ever transfer of federal power through elections in what was widely heralded as the start of a democratic transition. But that new government collapsed within two years, and Malaysian politics has remained unstable ever since. With elections likely to be called soon, what accounts for the remarkable turbulence in Malaysian politics, and what does it say about how regimes are remade?

Joining Dr Natali Pearson on SSEAC Stories, Professor Meredith Weiss discusses the state of politics in Malaysia, reflecting on the promises, both fulfilled and broken, brought about by GE14, and, looking to the future, considering ways for Malaysia to continue moving forward.

About Meredith Weiss:

Meredith Weiss is Professor of Political Science in the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy at the University at Albany, SUNY. In several books—most recently, The Roots of Resilience: Party Machines and Grassroots Politics in Southeast Asia (Cornell, 2020), and the co-authored Mobilizing for Elections: Patronage and Political Machines in Southeast Asia (Cambridge, 2022)—and a dozen edited or co-edited volumes, she addresses issues of social mobilization, civil society, and collective identity; electoral politics and parties; and regime change and institutional reform in Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia and Singapore.

For more information or to browse additional resources, visit the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre’s website: www.sydney.edu.au/sseac.

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Natali Pearson

Dr Natali Pearson is Curriculum Coordinator at the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, a university-wide multidisciplinary center at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her research focuses on the protection, management and interpretation of underwater cultural heritage in Southeast Asia.

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