The Dilemmas of Malay Political Leadership

Jun 17, 2015 - Discourses
Date: 17 June 2015
Venue: Sunway University, Malaysia

Speaker: Dato’ Vaseehar Hassan, Dr. Ahmad Farouk Musa, and Dato’ Saiffudin Abdullah
Moderator: Professor Woo Wing Thye

UMNO, PAS and PKR, the three largest parties headed mainly by
Malays in peninsular Malaysia, are united in their degree of
unprecedented disarray. While competition amongst highly
capable and ambitious leaders within a party is natural and
desirable, the simultaneous occurrence of heightened
leadership difficulties in all these parties makes clear that the
present situation is due to more than the coincidence of
clashes of individual ambitions within each party. The root of
the current disarray lies in a number of systemic developments
at the end of the 20th century – e.g. a large independent Malay
middle class, the change in the regional division of economic
roles caused by the rise of China and India, and the
globalization of the markets for capital and talents – to which
the party leaders have not been able to address adequately
and which have caused the Malay community to reconsider
what constitutes its best interests.

The facts are that progress in Malaysia has slowed down and
the Malay community has become more diverse. The dilemmas
of Malay political leadership have hence increased greatly, and
along with it, a rise in heated debate and disarray within the
Malay leadership of each party. The 1970 diagnosis of the
dilemmas of Malay leadership by Mahathir Mohamad is a
convenient starting point for the discussion of the dilemmas
faced by Malay leaders today. What have remained the same,
and what have changed? What is the way forward for Malay
leaders to deliver Vision 2020?