The Downfall of Malaysia’s Ruling Party

October 2018

In Malaysia’s May 2018 general election, a grand bargain between ex–prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and reform leader Anwar Ibrahim produced a political earthquake that ended 61 years of rule by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO).

The Rise of Kleptocracy: Malaysia’s Missing Billions

January 2018

One of the world’s worst public-corruption scandals shows how a lax international financial system enables massive graft in developing countries.

Documents on Democracy

April 2015

Excerpts from:

  • newly elected Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena’s campaign manifesto, “A Compassionate Maithri Governance: A Stable Country,”
  • Newsweek Polska's interview with Boris Nemtsov just hours before he was gunned down in Moscow on February 27,
  • opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's statement of innocence issued after the Federal Court of Malaysia upheld his sodomy conviction and 5-year sentence on February 10, and
  • a statement issued by Maina Kiai, the UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, at the conclusion of his visit to Kazakhstan on January 27.


Will Malaysia Follow the Path of Taiwan and Mexico?

July 2014

The hegemonic-party systems of Taiwan and Mexico began to loosen in the 1980s, eventually yielding to democracy. Malaysia’s ruling party, by contrast, has tightened the reins of power in the face of increasing opposition.

Malaysia’s Elections: A Step Backward

October 2013

Despite losing the popular vote, Malaysia’s long-ruling Barisan Nasional triumphed again in the country’s 2013 elections, disappointing an emboldened opposition that had high hopes after a strong performance in 2008.

Southeast Asia: Minding the Gap Between Democracy and Governance

April 2012

Do democracy and good governance necessarily go hand-in-hand? In most Southeast Asian countries, a gap exists between the two. How should we understand good governance in an authoritarian context? And what does poor governance mean for the legitimacy of democracy?

Southeast Asia: Strong-State Democratization in Malaysia and Singapore

April 2012

The strong state in Malaysia and Singapore best explains why their authoritarian regimes have proved so stable and enduring. That is also the reason why democratization would go smoothly in both countries—yet, paradoxically, might never happen there at all.

China and East Asian Democracy: The Coming Wave

January 2012

If there is going to be a great advance of democracy in this decade, it is most likely going to emanate from East Asia.

Malaysia’s Electoral Upheaval

July 2009

In March 2008, Malaysian voters dealt the long-ruling National Front coalition an enormous shock—pushing that party closer to losing power than it has ever been in Malaysia’s entire history as an independent country.

ASEAN's "Black Swans"

July 2008

Can regionalism help to redress the uneven spread and internal weaknesses of democracy in Southeast Asia? Unforeseen events in the region and positive political entrepreneurship may yet transform ASEAN into a force for democracy.