Thanks everybody who came to our second Malaysiaku this year on Feminism in Malaysia, especially those who met us at the Malaysian Contingent at the International Women’s Day march. We’ve prepared this summary for those of you who couldn’t make it.
In this session we went into a brief history of women’s involvement in social movements in Malaysia, the start of what might be described as our modern “feminist” movements, and the political issues faced by women in Malaysia today.
Thanks to everybody who came along to our first meeting of the year on Ketuanan Melayu. We’ve prepared this summary for those of you who couldn’t make it.
We started with a brief background on the meaning of ketuanan Melayu. Ketuanan Melayu as a term only came into vogue in the early 2000s, but conceptually the idea that Malays have dominance over the land (with Ketuanan Melayu literally translating to Malay Dominance/Ownership) far predates our Independence, having its roots in British colonial policy of appeasing the Malay feudal class.
Lina Soo, leader of the State Reform Party (STAR) in Sarawak, and Robert Pei, a lawyer who has studied Sarawak constitutional law, spoke at a Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM) forum this past Saturday. The talk focused on the document trail describing the formation of Malaysia and the incorporation of Sarawak and Sabah into the union. It also discussed the electoral dynamics operating in East Malaysia today.
In brief, Sarawak was an independent kingdom in the 19th century, ruled over by an Englishman who had been bestowed the title of Rajah by the Sultan of Brunei, in exchange for suppressing pirates and in some cases the natives. After the departure of the Japanese after World War 2, Sarawak was ceded to Britain by one of the Rajah’s descendants. The British accepted the offer partly to incorporate Sarawak into Malaysia as part of its friendly bloc of anti-communist nations, and partly for the natural resources.
The people of Sarawak waged a national liberation campaign which at times deployed armed guerilla tactics against the British. From the conception of the Malaysia Agreement up till today, the people of Sarawak were given little or no say over the merger decision and many internal self-government matters. The argument thus goes that Sabah and Sarawak are in fact subjugated colonies we inherited from the British, which the Malaysian state continues to exploit today.
Thanks to everyone who came for our first meeting of Semester two! We had a wide-ranging discussion about the recent leadership announcement by Pakatan Harapan (PH) and the current prospects for the impending general election.
Our presenter gave a brief overview of the contents of the announcement, including the breakdown of the leadership lineup, the first-100-days plan, and a short history of the Harapan coalition. We then moved to consider what effect Bersatu’s entrance into PH has had on its policy platform, and the potential outcomes for a Pakatan/BN victory in GE14. Finally we looked at the possibility that we may be facing a “lesser-evil” style choice, and looked at the example of France and the US to see what civil society and activist groups were doing around the elections.
Many thanks to Dr Kerstin Steiner for agreeing to speak at our Malaysiaku meeting in Melbourne last Friday. Dr Steiner specialises in Islamic Law in Southeast Asia and has written extensively on the topic. You can check out her work here: http://www.latrobe.edu.au/law/staff/profile?uname=KSteiner
We would like to apologise for not having a live stream of Malaysiaku as per usual, on request from Dr Steiner. We’ve decided to write up a summary of the talk to make up for it, and we’ve included some of our and the audience’s thoughts.
A big thanks to everyone who attended our first session yesterday! It was great to meet everybody and the discussion was excellent. This year we’re looking to post summaries of our fortnightly Malaysiaku sessions online for the benefit of those who could not make it. Last night’s discussion focused on understanding how Trump was able to win the US election, how his policies will likely affect Malaysia and what parallels exist between the Trump administration and UMNO in Malaysia under Mahathir and now Najib.