Muzzling the media in Malaysia: libel and censorship

It was abundantly clear from the reaction to the Bersih 2.0 rally on July 9th that the Malaysian government has become ever more insecure about its hold on power.  And yet as the government becomes ever more insecure the measures it resort to in order to shore up its hold on power become ever more [...]

Trying to smash a walnut with a sledgehammer? Malaysia, Najib and the Bersih movement

On Saturday July 9th the Malaysian government deployed thousands of police and ordered a lock-down of the capital Kuala Lumpur in an attempt to try to prevent a coalition of NGOs from holding a demonstration calling for free and fair elections. Initially the leaders of the Bersih movement had accepted an earlier offer by Prime [...]

Red storm rising or storm in a teacup? The South China Sea island disputes

In 1996 bestselling US author Tom Clancy (Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Sum of All Fears) wrote a novel entitled SSN which followed the mission of a US submarine in a fictional war between the United States and China over the Spratly islands. Similarly the plot of the 1997 James Bond movie Tomorrow Never [...]

Malaysia: Racial and ethnic divisions belie the myth of multiethnic harmony

For many years during the 1990s the slogan of the glitzy advertisement produced for the Malaysian Tourism authority was “Malaysia: Truly Asia”. In this ad, which mainly aired on international cable news channels such as CNN and BBC World, Malaysia’s multicultural and multiethnic diversity is showcased alongside the country’s natural beauty and tourist attractions. Blog [...]

No longer ‘In the Bottle’? LGBT rights in Malaysia and Southeast Asia

Malaysia’s Women’s Minister Last week 66 young boys in the conservative largely Muslim state of Terengganu, Malaysia, were sent to a special ‘re-education’ camp for displaying signs of effeminacy which if left ‘unchecked’, state official argued, could “reach the point of no return”. In other words they could ‘become’ gay or transsexual.  Blog this! Bookmark [...]

Sensational campaign, predictable result, unclear lessons: The 10th Sarawak state elections

On April 16th the east Malaysian state of Sarawak went to the polls for the 10th time since Sarawak joined the Federation of Malaysia in 1963. In many ways Sarawak is very different from other states in Malaysia. Of a population of just over 2.5 million, Malays (the dominant ethnic group in Malaysia as a [...]

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