The A B Cs of Malaysia


Phua Kai Lit, PhD


A is for Anwar Ibrahim

       Still the most controversial series of events in Malaysia’s

       political history


B is for Bailouts

       Shows why we should be skeptical of New Right

       economic theories about the benefits of privatization etc.


C is for Class

        The NEP and the emergence of a Malay middle class and a

        Malay working class         


D is for Democracy

      “Where the people lead, the leaders will have to follow”


E is for Environmental degradation

      Paved paradise, they’ve put up a parking lot”

                  Singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell


F is for Foot-in-Mouth disease

       A certain PAS leader seems to be prone to this


G is for Gender relations

      Sisters in Islam”, combining Islam with feminism


H is for Health

       The Citizens’ Health Initiative and the fight against

        privatization of public health facilities


I is for Islamic revivalism

       It’s up to progressive Muslim intellectuals to move it



J is for JE Epidemic

       Oops! I mean the Nipah Virus epidemic


K is for Kiasuism

       It’s now a Malaysian disease too


L is for Land

       East Malaysian natives and their fight against the timber



M is for Mahathirism

1.    See Khoo Boo Teik’s book “Paradoxes of Mahathirism”

2.    “I do not really mind what they think of me. What I consider important is whether I have served them well or not …. What difference does it make what people think of you?” (Mahathir bin Mohamed, New Straits Times, 3/9/2000) 


N is for Newspeak

       Present in Malaysian political discourse too


O is for Orang Asli

       Still the most deprived of Malaysia’s ethnic groups.

       How about a New Economic Policy for them?


P is for Putrajaya

       Impressive,wonderful architecture. But will it end up like



Q is for Quality news and analysis

       We definitely need more of this in Malaysia     


R is for Race Relations

       Can’t we just get along with each other?


S is for Sabah and Sarawak

       Let’s not forget they are part of “Malaysia” too


T is for Transportation

       We won’t end traffic woes by building more and more roads.

       We need better public transport.


U is for Universal Tertiary Education

       A minimum of two years of post-secondary education for all



V is for Violence

       What’s the matter with our society? Why are we getting more

       and more violent?


W is for Welfare

       Where are all the people displaced from plantations going to

       work and live?


X is for Xenophobia

       And for ill-treatment and exploitation of foreign workers


Y is for Y2K

       Much ado about nothing


Z is for Zoo

       What do you know, the National Zoo is smack in the middle

         of urban sprawl! (See “E is for Environmental degradation”)