Asia Institute Tasmania

Conference | Malaysia Update Conference 2016


College of Asia and the Pacific, ANU & The Asia Institute, UTAS

Start Date

26th Aug 2016 8:30am


Malaysia Update Conference 2016: Najib’s Malaysia — A Crisis of Confidence?

The past year in Malaysia has been as tumultuous as any in sixty years of independence. At its epicentre has been the sovereign wealth fund 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), with debts of around RM50 billion (more than US $12 billion) and the reported diversion of more than $4.5 billion into unauthorised accounts. Time and Foreign Policy magazines both ranked 1MDB in their top five financial scandals for 2015, and the US Department of Justice has launched a civil case for recovery of more than US$1 billion in assets associated with money laundering from 1MDB.

PM Najib has used all the discretionary powers available to him as prime minister and head of UMNO. He has sacked UMNO critics and senior officials, tightened laws to control the media, and increased use of the Sedition Act and other draconian laws. But will these measures suffice to maintain Najib’s position in the long term, and how seriously do they threaten democratic rule in Malaysia? Will opposition parties be able to unite against the ruling National Front and resolve their own internal conflicts?

Najib has also strengthened his government by enticing opposition Islamic Party (PAS) to cooperate in the cause of Muslim unity. He has allowed PAS to present a parliamentary bill to increase the powers of Islamic courts – widely seen as a step towards allowing harsh criminal punishments (hudud). That has driven a wedge between PAS and other opposition political parties, but at the same time raised questions over the implications for 40% of Malaysia’s population who are non-Muslims, and Malaysia’s international image as a champion of moderate Islam.

Leading politicians, academics and others will examine these and related issues in the 2016 Malaysia Update, sponsored by the the College of Asia and the Pacific at ANU as well as the Asia Institute at the University of Tasmania. In addition a special panel consisting of outstanding young female politicians will discuss the role of women and gender in public life – an area often overlooked, but increasingly important in today’s Malaysia.

  • APCD Lecture Theatre, Hedley Bull Centre, Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU, Canberra
  • This event was held on Friday 26 August 2016, 8.30AM–5.30PM

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