Tectonic shifts have underscored the gradual Islamization of mainstream politics in contemporary Malaysia. This is so despite popular media representations of the country as an epitome of moderate and progressive Muslim governance -- a portrayal regularly belied by the actions of its leaders as well. Recently, these shifts have been expressed in heated debates over apostasy, religious freedom, and constitutional rights. Insofar as the media have acknowledged Islamization, they have attributed it to the Islamist opposition party (PAS). Prof. Liow will show, however, that the ruling party (UMNO) has proven no less strident in expressing its own Islamist predilections, with significant implications for the dynamics of UMNO-PAS relations and, beyond them, the country's political future.
Joseph Chinyong Liow is head of research at S. Rajaratnam School of International
Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His books include Muslim
Resistance in Southern Thailand and Southern Philippines: Religion, Ideology, and Politics (2006); The Politics of Indonesia-Malaysia Relations: One Kin, Two Nations (2005); and (as co-editor) Order and Security in Southeast Asia (Routledge 2006). He is associate editor of Asian Security, and guest-edited "Internal Conflicts in Southeast Asia: The Nature, Legitimacy and Changing Role of the State," a special issue of that journal (2007). He has published numerous articles on Malaysian politics and the conflict in Southern Thailand. His PhD is from the London School of Economics and Political Science.