East-West Center Forum, Washington DC


Washington DC

June 29, 2013

Seabee_Memorial_-_looking_NW_-_Arlington_National_Cemetery_-_2011SeeBee Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery

Where: East-West Center in Washington: 1819 L St. NW, Suite 600. Washington, DC. 20036
When: Jun 27 2013 – 10:30amJun 27 2013 – 12:00pm

What:

What Happens Next in Malaysia? The Political and Economic Aftermath of the May 5 Elections

An Asia-Pacific Democracy and Human Rights Seminar Featuring:

Dato Din Merican
Public Affairs Blogger/Writer

Ms. Hui Hui Ooi
Assistant Director, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council

Amb. John R. Malott
Former United States Ambassador to Malaysia

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Malaysia’s May 5 elections resulted in the ruling coalition returning to power despite losing the popular vote. Following this historic event, the East-West Center in Washington hosted a panel discussion featuring two Malaysian perspectives on what is happening in Malaysia, politically and economically, following the vote, as well as an American perspective on what the elections mean for US-Malaysia relations.

watch by clicking: http://vimeo.com/69319481

Blogger and popular public policy writer, Dato Din Merican, kicked off the program by explaining how the recent election was about ideologies and economic philosophies. He described the election as being about “what is democracy?” Simply regular elections? Or an expanded institution that includes freedom of expression and an embrace of diversity? Debate over electoral reform and racial and religious politicking were among the social issues enmeshed in the vote. Issues of governance and economic growth were also of concern for the electorate as corruption and deficit spending go unchecked. However, Mr. Merican shared that he has high expectations for his country’s future because Malaysians are intelligent and increasingly judging their politicians by their actions, not their words. “We know what our problems are,” he said, “we need the political will to fix it.”

The forum at the East-West Centre Washington DC

The forum at the East-West Centre Washington DC

Ms. Hui Hui Ooi commented on the political landscape in Malaysia following the election. In examining the future of the opposition coalition party Pakatan Rakyat, she described the vote as fairly successful. While they did not win the most parliamentary seats, they did capture the popular vote. To prepare a different outcome in the next elections she suggests that the PK acknowledge its aging leadership and begin nurturing its future leaders, increase outreach to rural, youth, and minority voters, and prepare to govern should they win. In the case of the ruling Barisan Nasional collation, she feels they need to reconsider their Malay-only approach and rhetoric, start thinking of all ethnicities as Malaysians, to revive popular support.

From the perspective of the US, former Ambassador John Malott explained that the elections were “win-win” for the US, with the leaders of both parties being US-educated and pro-American. The primary consequence for US foreign policy is that the vote proved that there is a viable opposition in Malaysia, and that the US should engage the broad political spectrum as it strengthens and expands its bilateral relations. We warned that because few in Washington follow events in Malaysia on a daily basis, it is easy to make the mistake of taking official talking points on the country’s progress at face value. He cautions not to “conflate intention with action” and to be realistic about the political and economic realities in the still developing democracy. He also called on the US to encourage Malaysia to reach for higher standards in democracy, governance, and human rights as part of its bilateral relationship.

To view more photos from this event, please visit our Flickr Page.


Dato Din Merican presides over one of the most respected blogs in Malaysia, where the alternative media are playing an increasingly important political role. Dato Din served in the Malaysian government as a foreign service officer and central banker and then moved on to industry and commerce with the Sime Darby Group, one of Malaysia’s major business conglomerates. He was graduated from the University of Malaya in economics and did postgraduate studies at the School of Business at George Washington University and INSEAD (France).

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Hui Hui Ooi is Assistant Director at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security of the Atlantic Council. Originally from Malaysia, she majored in economics and international studies at Miami University of Ohio and holds an MA in international relations from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. She is a new and young voice in the international think tank arena and recently authored two articles on Malaysia’s elections for the Scowcroft Center.

John R. Malott served as the United States Ambassador to Malaysia from 1996 to 1998, during the Asian Financial Crisis and arrest of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. During his 31-year career in the US Department of State, he held such positions as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs and Consul General in Osaka, Japan. He has provided political commentary on Malaysia to such publications as the Wall Street Journal, Malaysiakini, and the Islamic Monthly.

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6 thoughts on “East-West Center Forum, Washington DC

  1. Its thick between the lines of this passage. Among the feeds to these lines are the many threads on this blog. Hope this thread catches much attention.

  2. Many commentators, analysts and writers harp on racial politicking and, in the main blaming it on UMNO, as one of the biggest problem/issue in Malaysia. They (including a few UMNO members themselves) do not realise or refuse to acknowledge that UMNO has been under the control of Constitutional Malays (Mamaks of ethnic Indian origin) for some time and Mahathir, who previously claimed to be of ethnic Indian, is still having strong influence on the UMNO leadership currently. If they recognize this fact about UMNO, they will then know that their harping on racial politicking as being outdated because UMNO actually and rightly serves the inclusive interests of the ethnically race-neutral Constitutional Malays who comprise a variety of Malaysian ethnicities. In this case only the DAP sticks out as a racist sore thumb in Malaysia.

  3. $ has been rallying back after hitting its long term resistance rail last month in a sharp sell off. I think that was the shake out before the breakout. $ has a nice H&S consolidation that is getting close to breaking the neckline to the upside. A break above the neckline will put the US dollar at a 3 year or so high.

    This will be good for our CPO or not since its traded in $. Well, when Mahathirism returns, he might make Rgt more favorable for export. That used to be his thinking.

  4. About $ from Robert Wagner of Seeking Alfa:

    1. Printing money causes inflation.
    Even after QEfinity in the U.S. and 20+ years of Japan printing money and not experiencing inflation, the diehards still cling to this outdated monetary theory. There simply is no truth to it, and the very fact that every market measure of inflation proves that should be enough to put that theory to bed. Yes, printing money can cause inflation under the right conditions, but printing money during a financial crisis to prevent a banking collapse and to avoid a deflationary spiral aren’t the right conditions. Baring a supply shock of an economically critical commodity like oil, it is highly unlikely inflation will take root until there is a tight labor market and excessive spending. We are a long, long, long way away from those economic conditions.

    2. The U.S. dollar is going to collapse and go to zero.
    In fact, the U.S. dollar has been strengthening since the 2008 crisis, and is about in the middle of its usual trading range. The U.S. dollar going to zero is the political objective of Ron “End the Fed” Paul and his followers, it isn’t a legitimate economic theory. Gold is more likely to “go to the moon” than the U.S. dollar going to zero, but neither are going to happen in our lifetime.

    3. The debt will force the U.S. government to print money.
    The debt and printing money have absolutely no relationship what so ever. The debt is the result of Congress spending money, printing money is the result of the Federal Reserve implementing monetary policy. Our Federal Reserve System was designed in a manner to specifically prevent Congress from dictating monetary policy. The Federal Reserve is an independent body deliberately shielded from political influence. Ironically Ron Paul’s “Audit the Fed” would eliminate the Fed’s independence and politicize monetary policy, effectively becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy and creating the very inflation collapse of the U.S. dollar Ron Paul purports to be trying to avoid.

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