New Releases on Malaysia from ISEAS

Power Games: Political Blogging in Malaysian National Elections
Hah Foong Lian

The unprecedented results of the 2008 national elections took many Malaysians by surprise. The component parties of the ruling coalition suffered huge losses, while the opposition was victorious in several states. Many media scholars and political pundits, including politicians, pointed to the online platform as a democratic tool that had increased support for the opposition. In the 2013 election the ruling party turned its spotlight on new media to try to regain voter support.

In order to obtain a better understanding of the much-touted democratizing effects of the online media, this book employs an alternative lens to examine the use of new media at the intersection of social and political realities. It explores the ways individual political bloggers, Facebookers and Twitterers used cyberspace to battle for voter support in the 2008 and 2013 national elections. It examines the cultural practices and the social and political affiliation and aims of individual actors, as well as the social ties that subsequently emerged from the use of the online media. This research employs a political economy approach to the media, Habermass notion of the public sphere, and the social determinism perspective in order to understand the extent to which online media can enrich political life and bring about new ways of campaigning.

Power Sharing in a Divided Nation: Mediated Communalism and New Politics in Six Decades of Malaysia’s Elections
Johan Saravanamuttu

This book argues that Malaysia’s electoral politics have historically been premised on a hybridized model of communalism and consociationalism. Beyond this it posits

a newer idea of power sharing based on the dynamic and transformative practice of mediated communalism through six decades (1952-2016) of electoral politics.
The strategy of mediating communalism is critically explored throughout the book, serving to test its saliency as a distinct approach to power sharing in a social formation which is ethnically, religiously and regionally divided, yet has remained remarkably and tenuously integrated throughout Malaysia’s electoral history. The book delves into this question by narrating and theorizing the complexity of communal politics leading to the emergence of new politics which have attempted to put Malaysia on the track of further democratization. It is further implied that new politics has to work in tandem with mediated communalism to transcend the most deleterious effects of an ethnically divided society.

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Singapore Malay/Muslim Community, 1819–2015: A Bibliography
Editors: Hussin Mutalib, Rokiah Mentol, and Sundusia Rosdi

Singapore’s Malay (Muslim) community, constituting about 15 per cent of the total population and constitutionally enshrined as the indigenous people of Singapore, have had its fair share of progress and problems in the history of this country. While different aspects of the vicissitudes of life of the community have been written over the years, there has not been a singularly substantive published compendium specifically about the community – in the form of a Bibliography – available.

This academic initiative fills this obvious literature gap. The scope and coverage of this Bibliography is manifestly comprehensive, encompassing the different sources of information (print or non-print) about the many facets of life of the Republic’s Malays/Muslims – such as education, economy, politics, culture, history, health, language, religion, arts, and more.

The result is a Bibliography that is arguably the most expansive, if not exhaustive treasury collection about the community, ever available anywhere. Scholars and researchers in particular and the public in general should find this Bibliography a highly valuable, indispensable source of information about the rich and varied life of Singapore’s Malay/Muslim community, stretching a period of two centuries – from the time of Stamford Raffles in 1819 until today.

The Extensive Salafization of Malaysian Islam
Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid

The form of Islam normatively understood and practised in Malaysia, i.e. Malaysian Islam, has undergone myriad changes since the 1970s as a result of gradual Salafization. Powered by Saudi Arabian largesse and buoyed by the advent of the Internet, this new wave of Salafization has eclipsed an earlier Salafi trend that spawned the Kaum Muda reformist movement.

Recent surveys suggest that there has been a rise in the level of extremism among Muslims in Malaysia. While the majority is far from being enamoured by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Wahhabi-Salafi doctrine that ISIS claims to represent in unadulterated form does appeal to many of them following the decades-long Salafization of Islam in the country. This tallies with media reports on increasing numbers of Malay-Muslim youth harbouring an attraction towards radical Islamist movements such as ISIS.

Salafization, referring to a process of mindset and attitudinal transformation rather than the growth of Salafi nodes per se, is not restricted to individuals or groups identified as “Salafi”, but rather affects practically all levels of Malay-Muslim society, cutting across political parties, governmental institutions and non-state actors. It has resulted in Islamist, rather than Islamic, ideals increasingly defining the tenor of mainstream Islam in Malaysia, with worrying consequences for both intra-Muslim and inter-religious relations. Responses to the Wahhabi-Salafi onslaught from the Malay-Muslim ruling elite in Malaysia have been ambivalent, and have had weak counteracting effects on the Salafization process.

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