Stress testing leadership in Malaysia : the 1MDB scandal and Najib Tun Razak

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-654
Journal / PublicationThe Pacific Review
Issue number5
Publication statusOnline published - Feb 2017


Malaysia's strategic development fund, 1 Malaysia Development Corporation, has suffered enormous losses. Funds have been traced to the accounts of the prime minister, Najib Razak. Amid the scandal that has followed, Najib's leadership has been challenged. Analysis begins by identifying the institutions that have historically stabilized Malaysia's politics, including a single-dominant party, a fused party-state, an electoral authoritarian regime, a controlled legislature, and a powerful security apparatus. Next, it examines how these resilient institutions fell into the hands of Najib's rivals, converting them into ‘threatening vectors’. Finally, it shows how Najib, in exercising ruthless new leadership, regained control over institutions and turned back challenges.

Research Area(s)

  • 1MDB, electoral authoritarianism, Najib Razak, Single-party dominance