Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Malaysia's Neo-conservative intellectuals

Muhamad Takiyuddin Ismail, Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article discusses the role played by neo-conservative intellectuals during the tenure of Malaysia's fifth prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (2003-2009). Abdullah's leadership was distinguished by two qualities which arguably qualify it as "neo-conservative," in terms of revival of policies from a bygone era and the launching of political reforms within the framework of a conservative regime led by the ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO) party. Using the theoretical experiences of dominant conservative regimes in the Soviet Union, Japan, China and Taiwan, the present authors are of the view that the policies and approach undertaken by Abdullah constitute a sharp departure from those of his predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad, for twenty-two years (1981-2003). Particularly eliciting controversy was the trust Abdullah put into a team of young advisors led by his son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin. In this article, we look at how these young neo-conservative intellectuals, together with several identifiable individuals, brought about reforms in Abdullah's leadership and impacted on UMNO politics. We discover that, notwithstanding their enthusiasm for progressive reforms, these intellectuals had underestimated the strength of reactionary and conservative elements existing within an UMNO-based interlocking system, hence reducing them to an anomaly amongst these forces. The perception deficit befalling these reformists was aggravated by their encroachment into the political economy of the UMNO rentiers and prevailing weaknesses in Abdullah's support system. The article seeks to contribute to the discourse on intra-elite conflicts in dominant conservatives regimes, such as have taken place in dominant parties like the UMNO.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-94
Number of pages22
JournalPacific Affairs
Volume86
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013

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intellectual
leadership
Malaysia
political reform
organization
regime
political economy
politics
anomaly
party organization
reform
minister
USSR
Taiwan
deficit
elite
Japan
China
Law
policy

Keywords

  • Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
  • Dominant party system
  • Khairy Jamaluddin
  • Mahathir Mohamad
  • UMNO

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Malaysia's Neo-conservative intellectuals. / Ismail, Muhamad Takiyuddin; Hamid, Ahmad Fauzi Abdul.

In: Pacific Affairs, Vol. 86, No. 1, 03.2013, p. 73-94.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ismail, Muhamad Takiyuddin ; Hamid, Ahmad Fauzi Abdul. / Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Malaysia's Neo-conservative intellectuals. In: Pacific Affairs. 2013 ; Vol. 86, No. 1. pp. 73-94.
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