Image selected by Asian Currents.
Today the Asian Studies Association of Australia’s bulletin Asian Currents published a piece I wrote on how to do Malaysian Studies better in Australia. We can only watch Prime Minister Najib and his opponents’ moves and counter-moves for so long before we articulate a broader relevance for our work for communities of interest who care about Malaysia, Malaysians in Australia and Malaysia-Australia relationships.
Australia needs to look beyond Malaysia’s current political impasse and engage more widely with an important neighbour
For some time now, Malaysia watchers in Australia have focused much of their attention on the potential for the 1MDB crisis, and the 2013 election result before it, to unseat UMNO president and Barisan Nasional prime minister Najib Razak.
The imaginative pull these intertwined issues exerts is understandable—the sense of slowly building crisis, the moves and countermoves by government and opposition parties, and the clever deployment of hidden political resources are fascinating, especially when events appear to gather pace. Equally alluring is the temptation to be the person who called the critical moment just before it happened.
The second part of my Mahathir series for New Mandala.
Mahathir and Malaysia’s money politics
In a country where cash is king, soon nothing will happen without bribery, alleges former PM.
Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad looked on Thursday like a man with important calculations to make. Even as he smiled and laughed, he seemed quiet and reflective as he discussed Malaysia’s dramatic political realignment.
“We had a wrong understanding of the level of concern on the part of the people about what is happening,” he said.
A few days earlier, Mahathir had campaigned with the opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition in twin by-elections, called after two incumbents died in a helicopter crash. Held in the federal electorates of Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar, both by-elections were won with increased margins by the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.
Today I had the pleasure of speaking at this year’s Southeast Asia Update, organised by the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), in the first Round Table session of the day, titled ‘Religious Renewal’. The discussion featured themes such as the continued reality of religious plurality and diversity alongside strong efforts by state and non-state actors to generate new orthodoxies. Picture: KITLV.
Today I spent the day with colleagues in a fantastic workshop on Violence, Displacement & Muslim Movements in Southeast Asia, hosted by the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies and the Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society. The full program is available from the KITLV website.
Today I gave a talk about the production of the world system and the continued relevance of the idea of the Caliphate in the Department of Politics and International Studies at The University of Adelaide. A lovely bunch of people to spend an afternoon with.
Australian cameraman Louie Eroglu (left) and journalist Linton Besser. Photo from Twitter.
Yesterday I was interviewed by Patricia Karvelas on ABC Radio National’s Drive program on the recent detention of two Australians, Linton Besser and Louie Eroglu, in Kuching. The full audio of the interview is available here.
Today, I expanded on my interview in a fuller explainer for New Mandala, which I’ve also pasted below with the link at the bottom of the page. Update on 17 March: my piece on New Mandala has been quoted by Amanda Hodge writing in The Australian, and her article is available here.
A pressing concern
By Amrita Malhi, Guest Contributor — 15 March 2016
Amrita Malhi goes beyond the headlines to examine what’s behind the expulsion of an Australian journalist and cameraman from Malaysia.
ABC Four Corners journalist Linton Besser and camera operator Louie Eroglu are returning to Australia, having been “deported” from Malaysia after authorities decided not to charge them with obstructing a public servant under Section 186 of Malaysia’s Penal Code.
In recent days, both men have been detained in a Kuching hotel, facing allegations by the Malaysian government that they had attempted to “barge into” the path of Prime Minister Najib Razak, not only creating a security risk for him and his minders, but also violating Malaysian journalistic norms. Read more
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is currently in the United States for an ASEAN Summit. Stock image selected by New Mandala.
Yesterday, I published a piece on New Mandala that looked at how Australia is managing its relationship with Malaysia in light of the scandals surrounding its Prime Minister Najib Razak, and the lack of a viable alternative government for international governments to deal with. It also mapped out some of the moves UMNO has made since the 2013 election to restructure politics in its favour as the nation approaches the next election in 2018. The full text is below.
Najib and Malaysia’s Road to Redemption?
BY AMRITA MALHI, GUEST CONTRIBUTOR – 19 FEBRUARY 2016
As leading party UMNO and its embattled PM desperately cling to power, there could be even darker times ahead for Malaysia’s democracy.
The actions of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak have been met with widespread disbelief from domestic and international observers.
For many, there seems to be no end to the series of scandals directly or indirectly linked to Najib and his associates, beginning with a financial investigation abruptly brought to an end by a newly-appointed Attorney-General, Mohamed Apandi Ali.
This year’s AFoI theme is “Make or Break”.
I’ve joined the Program Development Group for the Adelaide Festival of Ideas. The Festival is scheduled for October this year, and carries the theme “Make or Break”. For more information and to make a donation or suggest a partnership, please go to the website.