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Globalization and National Autonomy

The Experience of Malaysia

Joan M Nelson, Jacob Meerman and Abdul Rahman Haji Embong

Publication Year: 2008

Malaysia has long had an ambivalent relationship to globalization. A shining example of export-led growth and the positive role for foreign investment, the country's political leadership has also expressed skepticism about the prevailing international political and economic order. In this compelling collection, Nelson, Meerman and Rahman Embong bring together a group of Malaysian and foreign scholars to dissect the effects of globalization on Malaysian development over the long-run. They consider the full spectrum of issues from economic and social policy to new challenges from transnational Islam, and are unafraid of voicing skepticism where the effects of globalization are overblown. Malaysia is surprisingly understudied in comparative context; this volume remedies that, and provides an overview of a country undergoing important political change.--Stephan Haggard, Krause Professor, Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, University of California, San Diego

Published by: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute

Title Page, Copyright

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Table of Contents

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List of Abbreviations

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pp. vii-x

List of Tables and Figures

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xv

The idea for this book was initially conceived by IKMAS not long after the successful convening of the Third International Globalization Studies Network (GSN) Conference held at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in August 2006. IKMAS hosted this conference as a member of GSN, which is a worldwide consortium of centres...


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pp. xvi-xix

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1. Introduction by Joan M. Nelson

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pp. 1-26

Among the fears and concerns generated by recent globalization, the most basic is the perception that globalization progressively circumscribes the autonomy of governments, nations and peoples. Relentless global market pressures and the ever more pervasive influence and requirements of multilateral organizations and agreements...

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2. Developmentalist State in Malaysia: Its Origins, Nature and Contemporary Transformation by Abdul Rahman Embong

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pp. 27-58

Much of the literature on the fast growth economies of East and Southeast Asia in the last two decades has focused on the role of the state in development, and advanced the notion of what is known as the “developmentalist state” model. With Chalmers Johnson (1982) taking the lead in the early 1980s to expound the role of the developmentalist...

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3. The Look East Policy, the Asian Crisis, and State Autonomy by Lee Poh Ping

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pp. 59-75

This chapter puts forth the argument that the Look East Policy (LEP) launched in 1982 was essentially a rationale by the then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, to justify his vision of the New Economic Policy (NEP), a rationale greatly influenced by developments in both the international and domestic arenas...

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4. The Malaysian Success Story, the Public Sector, and Inter-ethnic Inequality by Jacob Meerman

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pp. 76-115

The unifying theme in this chapter is the crucial role of the state in Malaysia’s economic development and the effects of that role on interethnic income inequality. The story begins with a discussion of the state’s policy role in generating the Malaysian success story, that is, the simultaneous achievement of rapid growth...

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5. Poverty Eradication, Development, and Policy Space in Malaysia by Ragayah Haji Mat Zin

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pp. 116-158

One strand of the globalization debate focuses on the negative impact of globalization on the autonomy of a nation state, where autonomy is defined as the ability to exercise self-determination in economic affairs. For example, Yu (2005, p. 2) summarized the views of Chinese...

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6. Trade Liberalization and National Autonomy: Malaysia’s Experience at the Multilateral and Bilateral Levels by Tham Siew Yean

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pp. 159-188

Progressive and selective trade liberalization over time has enabled international trade to become a key component of the Malaysian economy. Malaysia in fact took advantage of economic globalization in the electrical and electronics sector by creating free trade zones in the early 1970s...

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7. Malaysia’s Education Policies: Balancing Multiple Goals and Global Pressures by Joan M. Nelson

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pp. 189-217

Well before Malaysia gained her independence, education policies were the focus of intense debates and considerable political conflict. Virtually all groups viewed expanded and improved education as a paramount factor driving the new nation’s development, combating poverty, staffing and expanding vital government services...

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8. Malaysia’s Healthcare Sector: Shifting Roles for Public and Private Provision by Joan M. Nelson

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pp. 218-240

Malaysia’s public health and medical services have a long record of broad coverage and effective low-cost provision. Until the 1990s, the sector generated little political controversy. It has also been largely free of ethnic divisions regarding objectives and policies. However, economic officials have long been concerned about the prospect...

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9. Globalization, Islamic Resurgence, and State Autonomy: The Response of the Malaysian State to ‘Islamic Globalization’ by Norani Othman

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pp. 241-272

In recent years a vast scholarly literature has built up on the subject of globalization. Yet there is a dearth of literature on an important facet or dimension of the globalization process which, since the late 1970s, has also had great impact both on the trajectory of internal social and political developments in a number of countries, and on contemporary global politics...

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10. The National Culture Policy and Contestation over Malaysian Identity by Sumit K. Mandal

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pp. 273-300

This chapter turns to the National Culture Policy which is little remembered today outside of circles involved in cultural production in Malaysia, especially the arts community. A survey of relevant and significant publications of the past several decades...

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11. Conclusions by Joan M. Nelson

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pp. 301-330

The preceding chapters survey globalization’s multiple impacts on Malaysian policies in the economic, social, cultural and religious realms. This concluding discussion summarizes the findings and also addresses some further questions. What factors or circumstances helped to preserve substantial autonomy with regard to economic and social policies? Are these factors likely...


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pp. 331-353

E-ISBN-13: 9789812308184
Print-ISBN-13: 9789812308177

Page Count: 353
Publication Year: 2008

Edition: 1

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Malaysia -- Politics and government.
  • Malaysia -- Economic policy.
  • Malaysia -- Social policy.
  • Globalization -- Malaysia.
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