Federal-State Relations in Sabah, Malaysia: The Berjaya Administration, 1976-85

Federal-State Relations in Sabah, Malaysia: The Berjaya Administration, 1976-85
Regina Lim, author
Date of publication:  2008
Publisher:  Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
Number of pages:  153
Code:  BM345
Hard Cover
ISBN: 9789812308122
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Soft Cover
ISBN: 9789812308115
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"Lim adopts a long-range historical perspective in attempting to understand the trajectory of local politics from 1976. The main focus of the book is the way in which BERJAYA attempted to reconcile the pressures being exerted at the federal level with the demands of the various ethnic constituencies in Sabah. Lim considers BERJAYA's fitful struggle to overcome the continuing challenge of Tun Mustapha's USNO and its eventual electoral demise at the hands of Joseph Pairin Kitingan's Sabah United Party (Parti Bersatu Sabah, PBS) and his champioining of the Kadazan cause. Lim's book is nicely argued and a welcome addition to the politico-historical literature on Malaysian Borneo; it is a thoughtful, well structured study of a relatively neglected period in Sabah's post-colonial history" (Aseasuk News).

About the publication

This book is a study of the political development of the Malaysian state of Sabah under the administration of Parti Bersatu Rakyat Jelata Sabah (Berjaya Sabah Peoples United Party), which controlled the state legislature between 1976 and 1985. It attempts to disentangle the three dominant themes within social scientific studies of Sabah: the issues of federalism, the politics of ethnicity, and the political economy of development. The book argues that the emergence of a developmental discourse under the Berjaya regime in Sabah can largely be traced to its failure to reconcile the localized ethnic politics of Sabah with the demands of a strong central state and thus the need to find an alternative strategy of political support and control. While this strategy proved effective when developmental growth was high during the first Berjaya administration (1976-81), the relative collapse of the state economy from 1982 onwards exposed its ethnic predilections and prefigured declining support for the regime, particularly among the non-Muslim bumiputera groups. Despite the consolidation of federal support for Berjaya under the Mahathir administration, the unravelling of the Berjaya project was by this stage unstoppable. In the final analysis, the attempt to create a more compliant state administration under Berjaya came undone precisely because it failed to take into account the localized dimension of politics in Sabah.


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