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Debating the Conduct and Nature of Malaysian Politics: Communalism and New Media Post-March 2008


  • Joseph Liow


  • Afif Pasuni



The results of Malaysia’s general election held on 8 March 2008 was nothing short of monumental. By winning five state legislatures and denying the incumbent governing coalition its hitherto routine two-thirds parliamentary majority, the performance of the opposition, swayed by the contribution of the new media, raised hopes that Malaysian politics had turned a corner. Following the elections, the popular discursive terrain in Malaysia was awash with talk of a “new politics†that had emerged, and that transcended the traditional narratives of race, religion, and communalism. The purpose of this paper is to examine the veracity of these claims in relation to the nature and conduct of politics in Malaysia. It argues that, three years after the 2008 elections, the communal narrative remains as forceful a factor in Malaysian politics despite the presence of a multi-ethnic opposition coalition and the hope engendered by the emergence of the new media as an equalizing factor that has eroded the incumbent’s traditional hegemonic control over information.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph Liow & Afif Pasuni, 2010. "Debating the Conduct and Nature of Malaysian Politics: Communalism and New Media Post-March 2008," Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, Institute of Asian Studies, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 29(4), pages 39-65.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:soaktu:v:29:y:2010:i:4:p:39-65

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dirk Tomsa, 2010. "Indonesian politics in 2010: the perils of stagnation," Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, pages 309-328.
    2. Rizal Sukma, 2009. "Indonesian politics in 2009: defective elections, resilient democracy," Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, pages 317-336.
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