How does Malaysian Federalism Influence How Land is Managed?

Federalism workshop flyer, issued by the Penang Institute.

I’ve just participated in a workshop convened to consider whether it might be possible to innovate the way Malaysian federalism functions, both in theory and in practice. As the present system is a highly centralised federation, it seems this question is increasingly important to state governments wishing to test their position in relation to federal power since the “political tsunami” elections of 2008 and 2013.

My talk was about the way in which land is managed in Malaysia, and the potential for land disputes to trigger wider conflicts between states and the federal government. In a nation in which development and national security are critically important political considerations, sufficient to trigger federal interventions in state affairs, this is an important question.

Incidentally, I’m happy to accept invitations to talk about my work, in which questions around land, enclosure and territoriality feature in a big way. I have an equal opportunity attitude to invitations.

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