Academic journal article Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues

Governing by Bumiputera Hegemony and Predatory State Power: Challenges in Regulatory Reforms in Malaysia

Academic journal article Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues

Governing by Bumiputera Hegemony and Predatory State Power: Challenges in Regulatory Reforms in Malaysia

Article excerpt


The dynamism of economic globalization requires administrative and regulatory reforms which not only emphasized on civil service system, public finance, and state-owned enterprises but also include restructuring of market, privatization, deregulation, and decentralization (Beh, 2007). However, critics argue that the development of socio-economic policies and regulations are dependent upon the nation's historical trajectory, the types of regimes that accompanied growth and debates over social policy (Haggard, 2005); meant to consolidate and extend central policy control (Robison et al., 2005). These institutional structures are in turn shaped governance framework, particularly on how interests are structured, power is exercised and how socio-economic policies choices are made (Underhill and Zhang, 2005).

The dependency of developmental states, including Malaysia on capital to facilitate economic growth and social development has seen the state becomes the key market player (Hoogvelt, 2001; Wickramasinghe & Hopper, 2005), whilst at the same time regulating institutional structures to promote social order and political stability. Nevertheless, the complexities and contradictions to regulate and balance the interests of capital with broader societal issues have become increasingly apparent (Ruggie, 2012). This has created a regulatory vacuum (governance gap) and poses challenges to the state autonomy to enforce institutional structures that inculcate public accountability, responsibility, ethical norms and values in a contemporary economic globalization (Bakan, 2005). Furthermore, scholars argue that economic, political and personal ties bound the relationships between state and business, in which comprise and condition the development process (Wickramasinghe & Hopper, 2005). This raised questions about the underlying relationship between the role of the state, power relations and social conflict and probed further question on how these interrelations construct and shape governance framework in a particular society.

As in the case of Malaysia, the development of state-led capitalism involved the construction of the Bumiputera ("sons of soil") hegemony which shaped the conceptions of social and political reality of Malaysian society. The Bumiputera affirmative policy is socially institutionalised within the power-knowledge relations and predatory state power; an espoused prerequisite to achieve national unity, social cohesion and stability. It has been argued that the establishment of modes of governance are not to manage the consequences of development but are undertaken in parallel to specific social and economic problems. This highlights the need to understand how the state gain and maintain its hegemony and further structure and shape the market and social relations in the era of economic globalization. It also probes further questions about the governance and regulatory reform within the Malaysian socio-economic, political and historical domain because these institutional structures set a context for socio-economic and political forms and arrangements. The analysis of Malaysia's developmental model highlighted the crucial role played by the state and its influence on socio-economic policies.

This study employs Gramsci's concept of hegemony and capitalist crisis for an analysis of governance framework in Malaysia. It focuses on the role of the state apparatuses which presumably favour the interests of capital, whilst mediating governance framework through various forms of state administrative/bureaucratic modes of socio-economic regulation.


This study sees both Gramsci's concept of hegemony and capitalist crisis as complementary and offers a flexible approach for an analysis of governance framework in Malaysia. The hegemonic order can be explained in terms of a historic bloc and social cohesion within a form of state, in which a particular ideology is socially institutionalized through language and power-knowledge relations. …

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