Malaysia has a new government in place after much political turmoil, putting an end (for now) to much speculation. It’s easy to view this recent saga as a struggle between personalities, but Malaysia’s political woes are embedded in a problematic electoral system.
Ustaz Wan Ji Wan Husin is a rare religious preacher in Malaysia, working to reach out to people across ethnic and religious lines. But his activities as a progressive religious preacher in a largely conservative system means he’s run up against resistance and state-led repercussions more than once.
Interracial and interfaith relationships aren’t unique to Malaysia, but it does get more complicated in contemporary Malaysia than in many other contexts, especially when the state sees ethnicity and religion as overlapping and heavily regulates and intervenes in deeply personal matters.
Consociationalism—the rule, in a plural society, by an alliance of elites from respective ethnic groups—has been Malaysia’s dominant political arrangement for over 60 years. The defeat of Barisan Nasional spells the end of consociationalism. What happened? And is the Pakatan Harapan government a new form of power-sharing or merely another form of consociational democracy?
This is an accompanying article to the feature article on the end of Barisan Nasional’s consociationalism – the rule, in a plural society, by an alliance of elites from respective ethnic groups – and traces in length the historical context and the foundation of consociationalism to the days of the struggle for Malayan independence, and examines how it survived the trials of the 1950s and 1960s.
The unconstitutional and illegal redelineation of Malaysia’s constituencies will create an extremely unfair election and result in a Parliament that is unrepresentative of Malaysia’s people.