This paper analyses the process of policy formation in Malaysia, identifying possibly policy levers for the implementation of CRISE's recommendations. The paper concludes that the policy process in Malaysia is exceptionally unamenable to outside intervention for three reason. Firstly, the government is relatively resistant to international demands for change, a resistance backed up by its low levels of foreign debt and international aid, which afford it a good degree of immunity from the kind of 'conditionalities' that might be imposed by international lenders or donors. Secondly, extra-governmental policy levers within Malaysia are relatively weak, although some groups have occasionally been successful in lobbying for specific changes. Thirdly and with specific reference to the concerns of CRISE, ethnic redistribution - mainly economic, but also political and cultural - has been a central tenet of the government and its discourse of legitimacy since the race riots of May 1969. Because of this, the government is typically very resistant to advocates of change in these areas. These three factors combined constitute a high wall for any policy lobbyist to scale, particularly on issues of ethnicity and inequality. On the positive side, however, the paper concludes by noting that the inclusion of Malaysia in the CRISE project was very much as a example of good practice from which we might learn. Given all the above, the paper recommends positive engagement with the government, rather than seeking outside 'leverage', as a potentially fruitful strategy for CRISE in Malaysia.
CRISE Policy Context Paper 4, Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity, Oxford, UK, 20 pp.