The Spectrum of Islamism in the new Malaysia


Event Speakers:

Dr. Mohamed Nawab Mohamed Osman, Dr. Kai Ostwald, Dr. Elvin Ong


Event Summary:


On March 25th 2019, the Centre for Southeast Asia Research (CSEAR) proudly hosted a seminar with Dr. Mohamed Nawab Mohamed Osman to speak on the emergence of Islamism as a central political factor in the new Malaysia after the victory of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition in the Fourteenth Malaysian General Elections. Moderated by Dr. Kai Ostwald and Dr. Elving Ong, the panel discussed the rise of puritanical forms of political Islam implemented in Malaysia’s government and the foreseeable consequences on regional diplomacy.

The agenda of the seminar was structured into three parts. First, Dr. Mohamed Nawab gave a comprehensive history of Islamism in relation to the struggle of democratization and social and political reforms in Malaysia. Second, in light of the rallies opposing the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and the results of the Cameron Highland elections, the panel discussed explores the root causes of the increasing support for an Ulama leadership to implement Islamic laws and bureaucracy. The support is part of the strategic campaign of the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) in which the seminar dedicated its final section to talk about the growing strength of the party in parallel with the weakening of UMLO. Throughout the panel, Dr. Mohamed Nawab provides insightful thoughts on questions surrounding the effects of media’s representation of Islam on mainstreaming political Islam and Islamophobia, the impact of Islam in neighboring countries such as Singapore or Indonesia and on their Muslim diasporas, the influence of conservative movement on the right of women and religious discrimination.