REVIEW— Mata Hati Kita, The Eyes of Our Hearts

Mata Hati Kita, The Eyes of Our HeartsCompiled by: Angela M. Kuga Thas and Jac SM Kee Petaling Jaya: Gerakbudaya Enterprise, 2016, 142 pages The recent widespread impression that religion, especially Islam, is to blame for the policing of sexuality in Malaysia is associated with the fact that two trends, Islamization and increasingly tightened regulation of bodies, have obviously been running [...]

Film Review: Kuala Lumpur SDN. BHD.

Kuala Lumpur Sdn. Bhd.Director: Andrew Ng Yew Han Kuala Lumpur Sdn. Bhd., a documentary film by indie filmmaker, Andrew Han, premiered in October 2015 as part of the annual KL Eco Film Festival, now in its eight edition. As the title suggests (‘sendirian berhad’, Malay: ‘private limited’), the film tackles an increasingly critical issue in the lives of urban citizens in Kuala Lumpur, [...]

Uncertainties for Malaysia’s Opposition after Nik Aziz’s death

On Friday 13th January 2015, thousands gathered at the Pulau Melaka Mosque to pay their last respects for Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat. The Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) spiritual leader, who was also Kelantan Chief Minister from 1990 to 2013, died at the age of 84. His death was a blow to Malaysia’s opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat (PR), especially when it came two days after the Federal Court [...]

Mobilizing around Inequality in Malaysia and Singapore

Survey data and pundits alike located the root of pivotal opposition gains in the most recent elections in Singapore (2011) and Malaysia (2013) in economics—specifically, rising costs of living, fear of declining opportunities, and awareness of a growing chasm between those with ample abundance and those with not enough. While electoral returns in both states reflected this economic anxiety, it [...]

The Monarchy in Malaysia: Struggling for Legitimacy

          The Monarchy in Malaysia: Struggling for Legitimacy Lately, there has been a resurgence of scholarly interest in the political role of the monarchy in Malaysia, as manifested by the publications of recent studies by Kobkua Suwannathat-Pian, 1 Anthony Milner 2 and Ahmad Fauzi and Muhamad Takiyuddin. 3 Such a revival would not have come about without the presence of [...]

Review: An Uncommon Hero. M.K. Rajakumarin Politics and Medicine

 An Uncommon Hero: M.K. Rajakumarin Politics and Medicine Tan Pek Leng (editor). Petaling Jaya: Strategic Information and Research Development Centre, 2011, pp. 451. The use of repressive laws to suppress contenders for power in Malaya/Malaysia and Singapore is well documented. Such work contradicts official histories rationalising abuses of state power as timely interventions to pre-empt [...]

Singing Islamic Modernity: Recreating Nasyid in Malaysia

       Since the opposition Party Islam Se Malaysia (PAS, Islamic Party of Malaysia) took over the state government in Kelantan in 1990, it has deemed as un-Islamic and banned public performances of traditional theater such as wayang kulit (shadow puppet) and makyong (a form of Malay theatre), as well as rock concerts. For orthodox Muslims, traditional theater forms are haram (forbidden) [...]

A Choice to Review: Encountering Krishen Jit in Talking Drama with Utih

       So it goes, our theatre, from one new thing to another. What else is ahead of us? It is difficult to say, since our playwrights, once freed of many of the rules that existed before the 1970s, have become unpredictable. Only one rule seems to prevail these days, namely that theatre has no hard and fast rules. But with freedom comes a heavy responsibility, especially to the audience, [...]

Book Review: The Rise and Fall of Communism in Sarawak 1940-1990

The Rise and Fall of Communism in Sarawak 1940-1990V.L. PorrittMelbourne / Monash Asia Institute / 2004 As recent as two years ago, communism was a dirty word in Malaysia’s political vocabulary. All changed with the publication of Ong Boon Hua’s biography, Alias Chin Peng: My Side of History. The biography broke all sales record in both Singapore and Malaysia, with more than 30,000 copies [...]

Vigilantes and Gangsters in the Borderland of West Kalimantan, Indonesia

Persons who find it politic to hurriedly shift from one side of the border to the other can hardly be considered as valuable citizens of either State. 1 Borderlands have long been the sites of violence, the result either of government incapacity or disinterest in peripheral regions, or of occasional attempts by states to assert control over “recalcitrant” border peoples (Paredes 1958; Wadley [...]

Re-Opening the Debate on Malaysian Elections

The following essays are based on the analyses and findings of the IKMAS Electoral System Research Project (Phase I) and the Phase II survey of “Voters’s Perceptions on National Issues, Economic Optimism, Education Corruption and Political Participation” carried out in late December 2003. Findings were first made public on 24 February 2004. The IKMAS project aimed to analyze the electoral [...]

Francis Loh Kok Wah on Malaysia

Thank you Mr. Chairman, Acharn Giles. Friends, I have always been studying the people on the sides rather than the leaders. I started studying the coolies in the tin mines, and then I started looking at the minority group of Sabahans called Kadazan Duzuns, and more recently I looked at Indian minority groups. So when I was invited for this panel, I had to think about how I was going to look at [...]

Book Review: Challenging Authoritarianism in Southeast Asia: Comparing Indonesia and Malaysia

Challenging Authoritarianism in Southeast Asia: Comparing Indonesia and MalaysiaAriel Heryanto and Sumit K. Mandal, editorsLondon and New York / RoutledgeCurzon / 2003 To reach the true value of this book, the reader might skim the editors’ introduction and proceed to the six substantive essays, for two reasons. First, the introduction is a contentious but unclear treatment of theoretical [...]

Mapping the Terrain: Politics and Cultures of Islamization of Knowledge in Malaysia

         Georg StauthPolitics and Cultures of Islamization in Southeast Asia: Indonesia and Malaysia in the Nineteen-ninetiesBielefeld / Transcript Verlag / 2002  Mona AbazaDebates on Islam and Knowledge in Malaysia and Egypt: Shifting WorldsLondon / Routledge Curzon / 2002 Syed Hussein AlatasKe Mana dengan IslamKuala Lumpur / Utusan Publications & Distributors / 2002 Farish A. [...]

Women, Islam, and the Law

         Hjh. Nik Noriani Nik Badlishah, editorIslamic Family Law and Justice for Muslim WomenMalaysia / Sisters in Islam / 2003 Gender, Muslim Laws and Reproductive RightsDavao City / Pilipina Legal Resources Center, Inc. / 2001 The essays in these two volumes deal unevenly with the issues of sexuality, reproductive rights, and gender violence in Islamic societies. There is, however, one [...]

Women and Islam in Malaysia

There is tremendous preoccupation with Islam in Malaysia today. Unfortunately, much of it is focused on form rather than substance, the effects of which are largely felt by Muslim women. Malaysia portrays itself as a modern Muslim country and indeed it is, in many significant ways. The country is relatively democratic; we have a Federal Constitution that respects fundamental liberties and [...]

Ties of Brotherhood: Cultural Roots of Southern Thailand and Northern Malaysia

It can be said without exaggeration that over the last four decades Prof. Suthiwong Phongphaibun has become the leading figure in the study of the culture of the southern Thai region. He has published a voluminous output of original books, articles, and edited texts of manuscripts that have played a major role in defining the field. Among his best-known works are Good Things from the [...]

Democracy Takes a Thumping: Islamist and Democratic Opposition in Malaysia’s Electoral Authoritarian Regime

Malaysia’s general election has produced an obvious and familiar set of winners. The long-ruling Barisan Nasional (BN), or National Front, romped to what Malaysians colorfully call a “thumping” victory, capturing nearly 90 percent of all parliamentary seats. Within the BN coalition itself, the clear victor was the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which scored huge gains at the [...]

Malaysia’s Growing Economic Relations with the Muslim World

It has been said that a country’s foreign policy is an extension of its domestic policy. This is indeed relevant to our understanding of Malaysia’s relations with the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and its members. Malaysia’s external relations with the Muslim world began when its former first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, became the first secretary-general of the OIC in [...]

Malaysian Chinese Business: Who Survived the Crisis?

         In the not so distant past, as economic growth was gathering pace in East Asia, Chinese enterprise was widely considered a significant factor in the process described as the Asian economic miracle (World Bank 1993; Anderson 1998). Ethnic Chinese in Indonesia, estimated at about 3 percent of the population, were said to own some 70 percent of firms listed on the Jakarta Stock [...]

Malaysian Chinese Business: Who Survived the Crisis? (Abstract)

         The authors examine how the 1997 Asian financial crisis affected Chinese-owned businesses in Malaysia. They suggest that size, sector, debt, and diversification were important factors in determining which businesses succeeded and which failed. Large enterprises operating mainly in the construction, real estate, and manufacturing sectors, with huge debt exposures, and whose [...]

Mahathir’s Economic Legacy

Jomo K.S. is a professor in the Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya. This essay appeared in Aliran Monthly (vol. 28, no. 8), along with other articles on the theme of “De-Mahathirizing Malaysia.” It is an edited version of his new introduction to M-Way: Mahathir’s Economic Policies, a collection of essays available from Gerakbudaya ( Aliran can be read online at [...]

Sumatran Villagers Sue Japan over ODA Dam

Before Tanjung Pau village disappeared under the reservoir of Kotopanjang Dam, the ethnic Minangkabau who lived in that remote corner of central Sumatra, Indonesia, once held an elaborate ceremony for 2-month-old babies. “It was called Turun Mandi,” villager Iswadi Abdulla Salim explains. “Everyone would come to see the family bathe the baby in the Mahat River. This was supposed to give [...]

Making Sense of Malaysia

         Cheah Boon KhengMalaysia: The Making of a NationSingapore / ISEAS / 2002  Farish A. NoorThe Other Malaysia: Writings on Malaysia’s Subaltern HistoryKuala Lumpur / Silverfishbooks / 2002 Two recently published and very different books by Malaysian academics preview what may become a season of assessments of the “nation-state” enterprise. The fifty-year anniversary of [...]

Said Zahari’s Long Nights

Said ZahariDark Clouds at Dawn: A Political MemoirKuala Lumpur / Insan / 2001 Said ZahariMeniti Lautan Gelora: Sebuah Memoir PolitikKuala Lumpur / Utusan / 2001 Translated and adapted from the remarks of Abdul Rahman Embong at the book launch of Said Zahari’s memoir in Kuala Lumpur in April 2001. Editor’s Note: Said Zahari was a journalist in the 1950s and 60s, crucial years in which the [...]

The Changing Environment of the Penans in Baram Sarawak

Only a small percentage of Sarawak’s 10,000 Penans pursue the traditional nomadic life of full-time foraging and hunting in the rainforest. For a number of reasons, most of them are now sedentary and have no choice but to involve themselves in economic activities which carve out a new way of interacting with the environment (Langub 1996). At the level of the nation-state’s relationship with [...]
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