Malaysia's transitional moment? : democratic transition theory and the problem of Malaysian exceptionalism.Faculty Scholarship
AbstractMany theorists of democratization transition have, either explicitly or implicitly, a teleological concept of political progress, liberalization and reform. For such theorists, countries such as Malaysia are therefore in transition towards substantive 'full' liberal democracy. Taken in this light, the significant advances by opposition political parties in the 2008 federal and state elections in Malaysia represent a major advance towards this end goal. While many have highlighted that Malaysia may in fact be an exception to this rule, this paper contends instead that the Malaysian case study challenges the central tenets of democratic transition more profoundly. Indeed, since independence the Malaysian regime has proved remarkably resilient and resistant to pressures for political liberalization.
This article was originally published in South East Asia Research, volume 17, number 2, in 2009.