Anwar in the wings of Malaysia’s renascent democracy


The good news is that Najib Razak’s massively corrupt and incrementally despotic nine-year rule is over. The cautionary news is that Malaysia’s democracy is not yet fully secured, given the uncertainties and contingencies that could affect its future, says Donald K. Emmerson, who heads the Southeast Asia Program at Stanford University where he is also affiliated with the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.

Emmerson met Anwar Ibrahim in November 2014 at Stanford University, when he joined him and his Stanford colleagues Larry Diamond and Frank Fukuyama [a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy] on a panel to discuss Islam and democracy, with specific reference to Malaysia. Anwar was jailed three months later.

Will renascent Malaysian democracy survive? Emmerson asks in the Asia Times:

Bandwagoning is already underway, as venal officials and executives who benefited from Najib’s kleptocratic ways seek political safety by ingratiating themselves with the new government, potentially weakening its ability to clean house.

Nor were reformers necessarily encouraged when Mahathir chose his long-time ally Daim Zainuddin to head a Council of Eminent Persons to advise the new government. Daim both preceded and succeeded Anwar as minister of finance during Mahathir’s long and controversial earlier reign as prime minister.


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