Protest and Possibilities: Civil Society and Coalitions for Political Change in Malaysia


Meredith L. Weiss

Contemporary Issues in Asia and the Pacific


Stanford: Stanford University Press

Available From: Stanford University Press
Publication Date: 2005
ISBN: 0-8047-5295-8
Binding: paper
Pages: xv, 324


Protest and Possibilities: Civil Society and Coalitions for Political Change in Malaysia is the ninth title in the East-West Center book series, Contemporary Issues in Asia and the Pacific, published by Stanford University Press.

Protest and Possibilities explores the pursuit of political reform in Malaysia, an illiberal democracy, and contrasts coalition-building and reform processes there with those of electoral, authoritarian Indonesia. The study considers the roles of civil society agents (CSAs) in promoting alternative (especially noncommunal) political norms and helping to find common ground among opposition political actors, and compares recent reformist initiatives with past political trajectories. The nature of illiberal democracy encourages a combination of contained and transgressive contention, with CSAs and political parties performing distinct but complementary roles. Enough space has been allowed over time for CSAs and political parties to accumulate coalitional capital, or the mutual trust and understanding necessary for groups to find common cause and work in coalition. In addition, shifts in political opportunities and threats encourage both CSAs and political parties to alter their strategies and thinking to take advantage of windows for change, facilitating long-term normative as well as institutional change.


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Abbreviations and Shortened Organizational Names
  1. Introduction: The Roots of Reform
  2. Conceptualizing Political Opposition and Reform
  3. Political Development in the Colonial Era
  4. Expansion and Maturation of Civil and Political Society, 1957-1997
  5. The Reformasi Movement and the 1999 Elections
  6. The Significance of the Reformasi Movement
  7. The Other Reformasi: Malaysia and Indonesia Compared
  8. Conclusion: Insights, Implications, and Extensions


"Weiss... looks with fresh eyes, uses new analytical tools, and makes this book an important read for both area studies students and political theorists."



"By comparing the "illiberal" democracies of Malaysia and Indonesia, Weiss sheds light on the significance of specific state structures to the types of coalitions, agendas, and institutional and normative reforms that emerge."

--Reference & Research Book News