Government and Politics in Southeast Asia

By John Funston | Go to book overview

5
MALAYSIA
Developmental State
Challenged

John Funston


INTRODUCTION

Malaysia stands out for having one of the most complex ethnic mixes in Southeast Asia, or indeed the world. It has, since independence, achieved a remarkable degree of political stability, along with economic and social progress, but has had many turbulent moments and now faces new challenges from the forces of reformasi.

Malaysia’s golden age is the fifteenth century, when Malacca held sway over small sultanates that covered peninsular Malaysia, and similar entities in parts of Indonesia. Malacca was at that time one of the region’s dominant powers, a major trading port, and a centre for spreading Islam. Its cosmopolitan city included traders from China, and traders and Islamic clerics from India and the Middle East. It had a sophisticated system of government, and well-developed laws (traditional — adat — and Islamic). The main historical document surviving this period, the Sejarah Melayu (Malay History), is still regarded as an important repository of Malay norms.

After Portugal conquered Malacca in 1511, the peninsula broke into a number of sultanates which retained a loose independence — sometimes falling under the influence of more powerful local neighbours or states in Thailand or Indonesia. British influence began to expand over the peninsula from the late eighteenth century, initially through trade and then with toeholds in Penang (1786), Singapore (1819) and Malacca (1824). Deeper colonial impact dates from 1874, when Britain signed the Pangkor Agreement with Perak, giving it the power to “advise” state authorities —

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Government and Politics in Southeast Asia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Contributors ix
  • Preface x
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - Brunei Malay, Monarchical, Micro-State 1
  • 2 - Cambodia after the Killing Fields 36
  • 3 - Indonesia Transforming the Leviathan 74
  • 4 - Laos Timid Transition 120
  • 5 - Malaysia Developmental State Challenged 160
  • 6 - Myanmar Military in Charge 203
  • 7 - Philippines Continuing People Power 252
  • 8 - Singapore Meritocratic City-State 291
  • 9 - Thailand Reform Politics 328
  • 10 - Vietnam Doi Moi Difficulties 372
  • Conclusion 411
  • Index 425
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