After a period of turmoil, Malaysia’s new Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, has a tenuous hold on leadership. A politician of the UMNO (United Malays National Organisation) coalition, his party returns to power a few short years after their first ever electoral defeat when former Prime Minister Najib Razak was tied to the 1MDB scandal involving RM 2.67 billion (close to $900m AUD) in missing funds.
Ismail now holds a slim majority in parliament and is seen by many as a compromise leader for parties and factions desperate to hold off high profile opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. While Malaysia faces recovery from a devastating pandemic and the economic fallout from a lengthy lockdown, even more challenges come from within - managing a tenuous coalition whose support is crucial to government stability. What are these political developments likely to mean for Malaysia’s long term democratic prospects?
Dr Amrita Malhi, Research Fellow, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University
Professor James Chin, Asian Studies, University of Tasmania
Associate Professor Kerstin Steiner, Director of Research, La Trobe Law School, La Trobe University
Chair: Dr Bec Strating, Executive Director, La Trobe Asia