At the time of writing this introduction the Black 505 movement has not ceased its efforts to denounce the alleged electoral fraud and demand for the resignation of the top officials of the election Commission (EC). Tents are being planted in Padang Merbok, in Kuala Lumpur, by a group of approximately 200 students, as a symbol of resistance. The government has not yet shown any sign of moving towards the demands of the people and there has not been any further investigation regarding the alleged fraud that was denied by the EC.
The time for illusion has gone, eliminated by political awareness and the strengthening of the public sphere: the media, the NGOs and individual citizens’ actions. It seems that Malaysians want to re-orient the flow of history that has been going in favour of the ruling party since the country’s independence; but today the wave of people marching in the streets of Kuala Lumpur showed that Malaysians are fully aware of the meaning of democracy. Malaysia is marching towards a change that has yet to be determined.
This project is the fruit of a three-year collaboration between academics who have chosen Malaysia as their speciality. The richness of our team mirrors the diversity of the Malaysian people. The quality and credibility of this intellectual initiative resides in its inter-disciplinarity: urban studies, political economy, international relation, political sociology and anthropology, film studies, literature, law, strategic studies, etc. Fifteen researchers from Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, France and the United Kingdom whose interest in Malaysia goes beyond passion – but always with reason – have come together to take readers on an intellectual quest to identify the contemporary nature of Malaysia in order to presage where the country and its people may be heading.
We hear a lot these days about the need for ‘alternative narratives’ and dissenting viewpoints. Where the official, dominant view is implacably emphatic, as in Malaysia, the need is great for alternative readings that are lively, even surprising, and compellingly argued.
That is what this spirited collection assembled by Sophie Lemière provides. If you want to be, or stay, bored by Malaysian politics, this is decidedly not the book for you!
— Clive Kessler,
The University of New South Wales
Political sociologist Sophie Lemiere has assembled a solid collection of essays by a strong-minded, eagle-eyed and critical team of 14 international researchers providing some illuminating and intriguing insights into current Malaysian society and politics.
— Cheah Boon Kheng,
Retired Professor of History at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang