November 16: Political Reform in Malaysia: Reality or Rhetoric?

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November 18, 2011: Bridget Welsh
Dr. Bridget Welsh at the East-West Center in Washington
(Click to enlarge) Southeast Asia expert, Dr. Bridget Walsh, explained the drivers, obstacles, and trajectories of Malaysian political reform at the East-West Center in Washington.

Political Reform in Malaysia: Reality or Rhetoric?

WASHINGTON DC (November 18, 2011) Since the resignation of Tun Mahathir in 2003 after 22 years as Prime Minister, the political landscape of Malaysia has undergone a profound transformation with a significant opening of the political system. This process of reform is continuing under the current premier, Najib Tun Razak, despite major obstacles. In an off-the-record program at the East-West Center in Washington, co-sponsored by the ASEAN Studies Center at American University, Dr. Bridget Welsh, drew on her expertise of politics in Southeast Asia and on the ground observations of this political sea-change, to explain the current state of political reform in Malaysia. In her presentation, she discussed the drivers of this change, the areas of reform, and the remaining barriers to further democratization in Malaysia.

Bridget Welsh is associate professor of political science at Singapore Management University where she teaches courses on Southeast Asian politics. She is the Malaysia director of the Asia Barometer Project, an advisor to Freedom House and consultant for the United Nations. Her recent publications include an edited volume entitled Transformations: The Abdullah Badawi Years in Malaysia (forthcoming). She has written extensively on leadership, political parties, conflict, human rights, and democracy.