The Defeat of Barisan Nasional: Missed Signs or Late Surge?

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Review

Guanie Lim, Southeast Asian Studies, 2020.

"The standout feature of this book is its attention to local-level dynamics in key states throughout the country. Praise goes to the editors for curating essays on five critical states – three in Peninsular Malaysia (Selangor, Johor, and Kelantan) and two in East Malaysia (Sarawak and Sabah). Studies on Malaysian politics too often harp on events at the national level, without equivalent attention paid to events on the ground. Thus, it is heartening to see this attention to local politics. My personal favourite essay is Chapter 15 (by Lee Poh Onn), which analyzes developments in the hornbill state of Sarawak. It goes into considerable depth on historical issues such as the maneuvering of chief ministers that came before the long-ruling Taib Mahmud (1981 – 2014), weaving them into current developments such as GE-14. There is also participant observation covering the three key constituencies of Bandar Kuching, Petra Jaya, and Mas Gading. Each of them was selected based on its ethnic composition, degree of urbanization, candidates, and parties. 

Overall, this book is well organized as it balances the intellectual demands of a multi-themed approach, analyzing how the proverbial David took on Goliath and won. It also does so with a fairly reasonable speed to market, which in itself is noteworthy. Befitting its ambitious title, the book is a valuable vault of information for both general and specialist readers interested in Malaysian and Southeast Asian politics. Notwithstanding its thickness, the book provides, up-to-date empirical findings to policy makers, researchers, and business executives." 

Ross Tapsell, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Routledge, 2020.

"At 23 chapters, 510 pages, 54 tables and 93 figures, The Defeat of Barisan Nasional is the most comprehensive GE14 compilation, edited by ISEAS Fellows Francis E. Hutchinson, a political scientist, and Lee Hwok Aun, an economist. In the acknowledgements these editors note that "the book is the result of a two-year collective journey" beginning in 2017, as it seemed at this point an early election might be called. The collection was published around 20 months after the election in December 2019.

The chapters are organised into four parts. "Campaign Dynamics," is written largely by economists and political scientists external to ISEAS. The next two sections of "Interest Groups" and "States" are largely written by ISEAS scholars in the Institute's Malaysia Studies Programme, which has the largest concentration of Malaysia researchers outside of Malaysia. Chapters include fieldwork conducted in key states in GE14, including the often-neglected Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak. The final section is "Personal Perspectives" written by politicians from a wide range of parties, including the previous ruling party UMNO, and the Islamic party PAS, which would no doubt have been difficult to acquire. The list of contributors, fieldwork sites, research focus and viewpoints is impressive and extensive.

Perhaps the most useful contribution of the book is its discussion of a potentially more polarised Malaysia, an increasingly ideological divide between urban-based Malays and non-Malays in the East Peninsula, and a West Peninsula Malay heartland, as well as local-level sentiment in Sabah and Sarawak. Some of these fissures can be seen in some of the impressive and extensive tables and graphs scattered throughout the book - providing ripe material for scholars and analysts.

The BN's fall in 2018 is perhaps the signal of Malaysia moving from a clear-cut "semi-democracy" to a more "complicated democracy" - and it is increasingly difficult to predict where it will move to next. This book thus allows for a trove of material to mark the beginning of this political shift."

About the Publication

The results of Malaysia’s 14th General Elections of May 2018 were unexpected and transformative. Against conventional wisdom, the newly reconfigured opposition grouping Pakatan Harapan (PH) decisively defeated the incumbent Barisan Nasional (BN), ending six decades of uninterrupted dominant one-party rule. 

Despite a long-running financial scandal dogging the ruling coalition, pollsters and commentators predicted a solid BN victory or, at least, a narrow parliamentary majority. Yet, on the day, deeply rooted political dynamics and influential actors came together, sweeping aside many prevailing assumptions and reconfiguring the country’s political reality in the process. 

In order to understand the elections and their implications, this edited volume brings together contributions from ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute researchers and a group of selected collaborators to examine the elections from three angles: campaign dynamics; important trends among major interest groups; and local-level developments in key states. This analytical work is complemented by personal narratives from a selection of GE-14 participants.

Contents

PDF e-book files for this publication are available as detailed below.

The Defeat of Barisan Nasional: Missed Signs or Late Surge? [Whole Publication, ISBN: 978-981-4843-90-4], by Francis E Hutchinson, Lee Hwok Aun, editors 11.90 USD
24.00 USD
Preliminary pages Download
INTRODUCTION
1. 9 May 2018: The Unexpected, by Francis E Hutchinson, Lee Hwok Aun, authors Download
PART I: CAMPAIGN DYNAMICS
2. Against the Odds: Malaysia’s Electoral Process and Pakatan Harapan’s Unlikely Victory, by Kai Ostwald, author 5.00 USD
3. Winning Elections by Rigging Borders? Barisan Nasional’s Brazen, and Failed, Attempt, by Danesh Prakash Chacko, author 5.00 USD
4. Economic Dynamics and the GE-14 Surprise: Statistics, Realities, Sentiments, by Yeah Kim Leng, author 5.00 USD
5. Economic Voting and the End of Dominant Party Rule in Malaysia, by Cassey Lee, author 5.00 USD
6. Money, Malfeasance, and a Malaysian Election, by Meredith L Weiss, author 5.00 USD
PART II: INTEREST GROUPS
7. The Rural Malay Voter in GE-14: Expectations, Surprise, and Misgivings, by Serina Rahman, author 5.00 USD
8. From Council Flats to Government Quarters: GE-14 in Urban Malay Constituencies, by Adib Zalkapli, Wan Saiful Wan Jan, authors 5.00 USD
9. The Making and Breaking of Malaysia’s FELDA Vote Bank, by Geoffrey Kevin Pakiam, author 5.00 USD
10. Social Transformation and the Consolidation of Chinese Votes for Regime Change, by Ngu Ik Tien, Lee Hwok Aun, authors 5.00 USD
11. Indian Voters in GE-14: Finding a New Voice?, by Anantha Raman Govindasamy, author 5.00 USD
PART III: STATES
12. Selangor: Pakatan’s Home Advantage, Barisan’s Hollow Tactics, PAS’ Hardy Base, by Lee Hwok Aun, author 5.00 USD
13. GE-14 in Johor: Shock or Just Awe?, by Francis E Hutchinson, author 5.00 USD
14. Kelantan: PAS Settles in on the Balcony of Mecca, by Norshahril Saat, author 5.00 USD
15. Sarawak: An Electoral Tremor with Far-Reaching Consequences?, by Lee Poh Onn, author 5.00 USD
16. Sabah: the End of BN and a New Order?, by Tony Paridi Bagang, Arnold Puyok, authors 5.00 USD
PART IV: PERSONAL PERSPECTIVES
17. Lembah Pantai, Kuala Lumpur: And Together, We Will Fell Goliath!, by Fahmi Fadzil, author 5.00 USD
18. Kapayan, Sabah: Silent Winds of Change, by Jannie Lasimbang, author 5.00 USD
19. Pasir Gudang, Johor: Fortitude Amid Defeat, by Khaled Nordin, author 5.00 USD
20. Ketari, Pahang: Protest and Loyalty, Confidence and Desperation, by Young Syefura Othman, author 5.00 USD
21. Cempaka, Selangor: Keeping the Faith, by Iskandar Abdul Samad, author 5.00 USD
22. Big Data and Bold Calls: How INVOKE Saw What Everyone Missed, by Rafizi Ramli, James Chai, authors 5.00 USD
CONCLUSION
23. Missed Signs or Late Surge?, by Lee Hwok Aun, Francis E Hutchinson, authors 5.00 USD
Index Download
Endpaper Maps Download

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