Autocrats vs The People: Authoritarian Populism in Malaysia

by Dec 8, 2017Lifestyle1 comment

About The Book

Anne’s 1993 PhD thesis, ‘Authoritarian Populism in Malaysia’, published in 1996 by Macmillan was ahead of its time in its theoretical and political conceptualization of this current world-wide phenomenon. She has updated her thesis as a reminder of this Malaysian variant of authoritarian populism and its consequences. Apart from the toxic effects of populism on ethnic relations, authoritarianism has cost the country billions through financial scandals including the current 1MDB losses. Clearly, good governance and populism cannot coexist.

This book demonstrates how populism in Malaysia is long established and has been sustained ever since the New Economic Policy that came into force in the post-May 13, 1969 period. The Malaysian variant is a populism that is based on a call for ethnic entitlement (‘Bumiputeraism’) and one that has become increasingly Islamic in recent years. Anne’s thesis also contains one of the most thorough expositions of the politics surrounding detention without trial and other repressive laws in Malaysia.


  • Introduction
  • The Colonial Roots of Authoritarian Populism
  • The Post-Colonial State
  • Suppression of Political Opposition
  • Restructuring the State and Society
  • State Repression in the Seventies
  • Authoritarian Populism Under Mahathir
  • Class Contradictions and Popular Protest
  • Authoritarian Populism Entrenched
  • Conclusion

About The Author

Anne Munro-Kua received her BA in political science from the University of Sussex (1978) and her PhD from the Faculty of Economics & Social Studies, University of Manchester, UK (1993). She has taught in schools, colleges and universities in the UK and Malaysia and has also edited several publications including ‘Women’s rights as Human Rights’ and ‘Women and New Technology in Asia’. Since 2007 she has been leading her training and coaching consultancy, AMK Transformations.

What The Readers Say

Professor Edmund Terence Gomez, University of Malaya

‘Anne Munro-Kua’s analysis of authoritarian populism and its evolution in Malaysia is different, yet equally compelling, carefully traced against the grain of official history… a timely reminder that we need to be aware that this continuous process of constructing and reconstructing populist rhetoric is a tool employed by the ruling elite to perpetuate authoritarian rule.’


Gareth Richards, writer, editor, bookseller

‘Anne’s conceptualisation of ‘authoritarian populism’ has helped crystallise the defining features of the postcolonial Malaysian political economy.’


Gayathry Venkiteswaran, Lecturer at Nottingham University

‘This book is highly recommended for anyone wishing to understand how and why the Malaysian authoritarian state has been able to survive this long.’

1 Comment

  1. Equalizer

    Can existing payeees be accepted?


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