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Personalized Politics

The Malaysian State under Mahathir

In-Won Hwang

Publication Year: 2003

This book is an innovative analysis of regime maintenance and transformation in Malaysia. It goes beyond familiar approaches centred on communal politics, or the corporate workings of Malaysia Inc., to stress the importance of power maintenance -- tracing a path from consociational bargaining, to authoritarian UMNO dominance, to Dr Mahathir's personal dominance.

Published by: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii

List of Tables

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pp. viii-x

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pp. xi-xiii

In 1955, when Malaya was still part of the British Empire, the colonial authorities held a general election as a step towards independence in 1957. That election was won by an alliance of three racially based parties headed by its Malay component, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO). ...

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pp. xiv-xv

This book is based on my Ph.D. thesis entitled “Changing Conflict Configurations and Regime Maintenance in Malaysian Politics”. With both an update and an elaboration of the thesis, the journey towards and preparation of this volume has been long. ...


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pp. xvi-xix

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-19

Malaysia is generally described as a prime example of a society severely divided along ethnic lines and most observers agree that ethnic conflict has been, and still is, one of the most distinctive sources of political conflict. Malaysia, nonetheless, is one of the few plural societies that has achieved some measure of success ...

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2. The Origins and Patterns of Conflict in Malaysia

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pp. 20-45

Since independence in 1957, ethnicity has been one of the prime sources of conflict in multi-ethnic Malaysian society and this conflict and its resolution have been a primary concern in the study of politics in Malaysia. This chapter provides a historical and political overview of the roots of ethnic relations in Malaysian society. ...

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3. Regime Maintenance through Consociational Bargaining

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pp. 46-90

Many scholars of conflict resolution argue that intense ethnic conflicts in deeply fragmented societies are rarely resolved by orthodox democratic means such as pure majoritarianism, ordinary parliamentary opposition, political campaigning, and winning elections.3 Therefore, scholars have proposed the alternative “consociational” model, ...

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4. Regime Change towards UMNO Dominance

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pp. 91-142

During the period 1957–69, the newly established Malaysian state opted for political compromise which meant by implication that Malays retained political prominence while the non-Malays, especially the Chinese, kept their strong economic position, even though the modern economy continued to be dominated by foreign capital. ...

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5. Towards Mahathir’s Personal Dominance

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pp. 143-208

Until recently, many scholars have given primary attention in their analysis of conflict management in multi-racial societies to the role of national élites and sub-élites. And it has been assumed that in a severely divided society the national élites and sub-élites tend towards a consociational framework in preserving regime stability ...

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6. Politics in the 1990s: Regime Change or Regime Consolidation

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pp. 209-275

As shown in the period 1987–90, the presence of substantial opposition within the dominant Malay community did not necessarily bring about greater political openness or democratic accountability in Malaysia. On the contrary, since the mid-1980s, deepening UMNO factionalism seemed to encourage the dominant Malay political élite ...

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7. The Rise of New Politics and Challenges to the Mahathir Regime

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pp. 276-342

The year 1998 marks a significant change in Malaysian political history. After several years of leadership conflict speculation within UMNO, Anwar Ibrahim was abruptly dismissed from office, expelled from the party, imprisoned under the ISA, beaten while in custody and eventually charged in court on five counts of sodomy and five counts of corruption. ...

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8. Whither Malaysia?

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pp. 343-359

During the years after independence when ethnic conflict was perceived as the main threat to regime stability in Malaysia, inter-ethnic élite cooperation was the most crucial element in the maintenance of the dominant Malay ruling élite’s power. Accordingly, the UMNO-led Malay ruling élite opted for political compromise ...


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pp. 360-382


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pp. 383-398

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About the Author

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pp. 399

In-Won Hwang is a Research Fellow at the Institute for East Asian Studies, Sogang University, Korea. Before that he was Visiting Professor in the Faculty of International Relations, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9789812305190
Print-ISBN-13: 9789812301864

Page Count: 400
Publication Year: 2003

Edition: 1