The Malaysian General Elections of 2013: The Last Attempt at Secular-inclusive Nation-building?

Farish A. Noor


This paper looks at the Malaysian General Election campaign of 2013, and focuses primarily on the 1Malaysia project that was foregrounded by the administration of Prime Minister Najib Razak. It compares the 1Malaysia project with other projects aimed at nation-building, such as the Wawasan 2020 project of former Prime Minister Mahathir and the Islam Hadari project of former Prime Minister Badawi; and asks if 1Malaysia was truly an attempt at building a sense of Malaysian nationhood based on universal citizenship regardless of race or religion; and it also considers the response to the 1Malaysia project that came from the opposition parties of the country. Malaysia has experienced a steady process of islamisation that dates back to the Mahathir era, and the question of whether the political domain of Malaysia has been overcome by religious-communitarian markers and values will be raised in the paper as well.

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