Malaysia: Economy, politics and Australian relations

Stewart Nixon, Shiro Armstrong, Peter Drysdale
JEL codes: 

 2018 was historic for Malaysia — it experienced its first democratically elected change in government since becoming an independent nation in 1957. The unanticipated return of Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister in alliance with the man he once imprisoned on dubious grounds was optimistically welcomed by Malaysians and sparked a great deal of interest globally. As an enduring regional friend and Commonwealth partner, Australia is among the countries eagerly engaging with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government as it seeks to implement a new vision for governance, the economy, international engagement and beyond. This paper takes stock of the new administration’s first year and outlines some of the key challenges it faces, with a detailed focus on fiscal reform, infrastructure development, governance revitalisation and international engagement prospects — including a dedicated chapter on Malaysia-Australia relations and opportunities to enhance cooperation. It combines this with historical context and data to make it both relevant and accessible to readers with varying degrees of familiarity with Malaysia.