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You're using an out-of-date version of Internet Explorer. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up. Curriculum Vitae. Gaik Cheng Khoo. English University of British Columbia, Canada, Teaching transnational film and television. Taught undergraduate courses in gender, cultural studies and Southeast Asian cinema.

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Other roles included convening the Gender Honours program and supervision of 1 PhD. July Asia Research Institute, Singapore. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, Barker, Asian Cinema, special issue on Indonesian Cinema. UK: Routledge Honolulu: U of Hawaii Press accepted Oct , forthcoming London: Bloomsbury Academic. Malaisie Contemporaine.

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Southeast Asian Cinema. Jean Pierre Gimenez. Lyon, France: Asiexpo, , pp. Andrew Weinberg.

New York: Routledge, , pp. Suad Joseph. Netherlands: Brill Online, Yeoh Seng-Guan. There now appears to be a constant swing in votes between the UMNO and PAS among the rural Malay electorate, suggesting that neither party is seen by them as a viable option to represent their interests. One reason for this is that there have been no fundamental changes in outlook in both the UMNO and PAS on core matters, such as gender, religion, democracy and human rights since these parties were established. The rise of new identities, an issue that remains to be seriously researched, has been recognised by government leaders including Mahathir and Abdullah who have talked about the need to create a more inclusive environment, or a Bangsa Malaysia Malaysian nation.

These two men are probably aware that the concept of Bangsa Malaysia is no longer mere rhetoric, though it was probably conceived as such by Mahathir,7 but reflects a transition in society that they need to deal with vigilantly to retain support. For all their support for 4 Edmund Terence Gomez a Bangsa Malaysia, however, the past and present UMNO presidents have had to contend with repeated arguments from UMNO members about the importance of ketuanan Melayu Malay supremacy and the continued need for policies that respect the indigeneity of the Bumiputeras.

For example, recent statements by Mahathir and Abdullah indicate that they are aware that affirmative action is no longer of much benefit to the Malays. Abdullah went on to argue that the reason Malaysians were unhappy with this policy was not because they opposed affirmative action, but that they were dissatisfied with its pattern of implementation.

UMNO members, having long benefited from the abuse of affirmative action for vested interests, were not interested in any reforms that would jeopardise their access to government concessions deployed along ethnic lines to rectify social ills. To draw attention to this resistance by political parties to change, in spite of demands from society for major reforms, the contributors to this volume have adopted different research methods.

This study includes an assessment of the history of events and discourses within the UMNO and PAS related to the themes of human rights, law and democracy, gender and Islam. Through these methodologies, involving an analysis of these themes from a historical perspective, attention will be drawn to the point that important transitions have occurred in society, but political parties have not adapted themselves to these changes.

The abuse of the law to deal with dissidents, inside and outside of the UMNO, has not changed, even though Mahathir has repeatedly insisted that he values and adheres to democracy, albeit an Asian form of democracy. Malay politics, coalition politics: contrasting the UMNO and PAS Much of the character and constitution of Malaysian political parties is influenced by the multi-ethnic nature of its population. One outcome of the multi-ethnic constitution of Malaysian society has been the establishment of political parties that are primarily ethnically based.

The Malayan Union was a proposal by the British colonial government to place under one government all the nine Malay states and the Straits Settlements of Penang and Malacca. Singapore, the other remaining Straits Settlement, was to be left out of the Union. Even now, in the early s, despite a membership totalling more than two million, making the mass-based UMNO the largest local political party, its bastion of support still remains the rural Malays.

In the immediate post-colonial period, Malaysia managed to avoid political instability with the institutionalisation of a Malay-dominated, yet ethnically inclusive, ruling coalition, the Alliance, comprising three race-based parties — the UMNO, the MCA and the MIC. When the Alliance was formed two years before Independence in , the leaders were primarily concerned with capturing power — the aristocratic Malays were keen to secure political power, while the Chinese bourgeoisie leading the MCA wanted to preserve and enhance their economic base.

This has also enabled these parties to represent their leaders as ethnic patrons.

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Since Malaysian history has shown that a single multiracial party would be unable to secure broadbased support, the system of consociationalism offered by multiparty, multi-ethnic 6 Edmund Terence Gomez coalitions — such as that on which the BN is structured — emerged as an effective means to consolidate the electoral support of the main ethnic communities.

This formula has, in the case of the BN, enabled it to draw support on the basis of both ethnicity and class. Yet, in view of the decision by these parties to join the BN and their support, both professed and implicit, for the policies of a government that endorses Malay hegemony, the Gerakan, MCA and MIC are not commonly perceived as representing the views or interests of the ethnic or class communities they claim to protect.

This has not been the case for two reasons. First, affirmative action has proven to be an indispensable avenue through which the UMNO has managed to secure Malay support.

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UMNO members, inevitably, continue to argue for the need for affirmative action-like policies, on the grounds that economic differences still exist between communities, in spite of the emergence of an influential new Malay middle class. Its original objective was to secure mass rural-based Malay support through the propagation of a Malay Malay politics in Malaysia 7 nationalist agenda. PAS first secured a majority in the Kelantan state legislature in the general elections and governed the state until PAS also clinched control of the Terengganu state government in , but had to secede control of the state in following defections from the party to the UMNO.

Razaleigh, a long-standing UMNO vice-president and treasurer , had formed the opposition party in after being forced out of the ruling party by Mahathir. Its aim of achieving power at the federal level was further undermined when Semangat, which had fared miserably in this federal election, ceased operations and its members returned to the UMNO.

Among opposition parties, PAS has the most strongly defined objective. Accordingly, it espouses policies and ideas that are rooted in Islam. Adopting this preponderant Islamic posture, PAS has been offering Malaysians, Muslim Bumiputeras in particular, a vision of a society reformed through legislation based on religious tenets.

The establishment of an Islamic state, according to the party, will bring about spiritual regeneration and lead to the development of a more just, democratic, moral, principled and socially conscious society, devoid of repressive legislation and unhealthy economic activities such as gambling. For PAS, its ideas and motivations stem from Islam, as the party perceives it.

Democratic ideals, the party believes, are acceptable only within a secular context because they would automatically feature in an Islamic theocratic state, as this system is inherently just. Yet, it has been observed that PAS will, in all likelihood, reject the concepts of majority rule and individual choice because the former can permit the implementation of morally wrong tenets while the latter embodies the assumption that individuals are all-knowing.

Nevertheless, the party believes it 8 Edmund Terence Gomez has been able to muster the support of rural Malays through active propagation of its conviction that religion and politics are inseparable in Islam and that religion should be thought of as a world view, a value system, a code of ethics, even as ideology.


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In the Malay heartland, especially in Kelantan and Terengganu, PAS has consistently enjoyed staunch support, estimated at 35—40 per cent of the electorate. A review of electoral trends in the Malay heartland between and would help indicate this consistent support that PAS has been able to maintain, while also indicating the swing in support by people in this region between the Islamic party and the UMNO. Electoral trends in Malay heartland26 During the elections, the BN secured a massive victory, winning of the parliamentary seats and of the state assembly seats under contest.

In the previous election in , the BN had lost more than double the number of these constituencies, that is 42 parliamentary seats and seats in the state legislatures.

Media, Culture and Society in Malaysia

The BN had recorded its best ever performance in terms of victory in contests in parliamentary constituencies in by capturing about 91 per cent of these seats, up from 75 per cent in In terms of popular support, however, the BN secured In , the opposition collectively obtained a respectable The BN recaptured control of the state government of Terengganu, very narrowly lost the opportunity to regain power in Kelantan and improved its electoral performance in Kedah, Pahang and Perlis, states into which PAS had made significant inroads in the previous general election.

Table I. In the 31 parliamentary seats listed in Table I. During the general elections, when the BN secured its best ever electoral victory, Table I.

This loss of Malay support in Kedah and Terengganu had occurred even though, between and , the Malaysian economy had experienced a massive boom and during this period Malay politics in Malaysia 9 Table I. In , compared with the elections, the BN gained more electoral support in only two of these 31 seats, indicating a further and serious erosion of Malay support. Both these seats where the BN registered an improved performance were in Kelantan, one of which was retained by Razaleigh, who had returned to the UMNO fold.

The UMNO barely secured 51 per cent of the popular vote in these 58 parliamentary seats. In spite of this decline in support in the Malay heartland after the elections, Mahathir did little to address the economic and social concerns of rural Bumiputeras. For this reason, it is probable that the BN would have faced further erosion of Malay support in many of these Bumiputera-majority constituencies in even if Anwar had not been sacked as deputy prime minister.

Undoubtedly, however, the manner in which Anwar, who had presented himself as having a more populist orientation, was dismissed, contributed to the scale of Malay swing against the UMNO, specifically in Terengganu and Kedah. Prior to the election, PAS had no parliamentary seats in Kedah and only one in Terengganu down from two in Of the parliamentary seats that the UMNO contested in the election, the party secured victory in only about 69 per cent of these constituencies, that is 72 seats. In the election, the UMNO had won 89, or 87 per cent, of the parliamentary seats it contested. In Kedah, the fall in electoral support for the BN between and was by more than 4 percentage points in all but one of the nine Bumiputera-majority parliamentary seats.

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Although the UMNO lost to PAS in seven of these nine Bumiputera-majority seats, the margin of support the BN secured was between 46 and 49 percentage points, suggesting that a small swing was sufficient for the ruling coalition to wrest control of these seats in subsequent elections. The swing in support to the UMNO increased appreciably, ranging from However, in all but one seat, the UMNO secured less than 58 per cent of the popular vote, and in five of these constituencies, the BN support was less than 54 per cent.

Of the 31 state seats in Terengganu that the UMNO contested, the party won in only four constituencies. In the Dungun parliamentary constituency, the fall in support for the BN between and was a massive 15 percentage points, while in Kemaman it was During the elections, in the constituency of Kuala Terengganu, the fall in support for BN that year was a colossal The swing in support from the opposition to the BN in all parliamentary seats was in double-digit figures, ranging from The BN secured two seats in the state-level election in During the elections, the BN further improved its performance, registering an increase in support in all parliamentary constituencies in Kelantan.

In 11 of the 13 parliamentary seats under review, the increase in support was in double-digit figures. The percentage point increase ranged from In only one constituency, Pasir Mas, was the margin of increase of support below 5 percentage points, that is a mere 1. Six of these victories were recorded in Kelantan, the remaining one in Kedah. PAS failed to win a single parliamentary seat in Terengganu, a major reversal of its fortunes compared with when the party denied the BN representation in any of the eight constituencies in this state. The Islamic party was not able to win a single seat in Perlis, Selangor and Pahang, states in which PAS was reputed to be growing in influence.

The results for PAS were similarly dire in the state-level elections. While the Islamic party had 98 state seats going into the elections, its total was reduced appreciably to a mere 36 when the results were declared.