Malaysia and Indonesia: a study of foreign policies with special reference to bilaterial relations

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis



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In the post-Cold War era, the 'special relationship' between Malaysia and Indonesia appears to have become not as cordial as during the 1970s-80s. In fact, it has been characterized more by conflict and rivalry than cooperation. Many issues have contributed to the tension namely, clash of personality between leaders, national political transformation, cross-border environmental concerns, illegal migrant workers, separatist movement, territorial disputes, transnational terrorism, and disputes over cultural rights. While examining those specific developments, this thesis organizes its analysis of Malaysian and Indonesian foreign policies, with special reference to their evolving bilateral relations, from a constructivist perspective. Constructivists believe that culture, ethnicity, elite/leadership, national identity, and religious beliefs are among the main factors which should be examined in order to better understand a state's behaviour in relation to other states in the international arena. Those non-material factors, which are ignored or under-studied in the leading international theories which mostly focus on military/economic power and the international system underpinned by balance of power, provide a useful interpretive framework to understand the cases of Malaysia and Indonesia. Deploying this constructivist perspective, this thesis examines and compares those factors' impact on Malaysian and Indonesian foreign policies in general, and on their conduct of bilateral relations in particular, in the post-Cold War era. Following a theoretical and background review (Chapter 1) and an empirical discussion of the foreign policies/relations of Indonesia and Malaysia (Chapter 2), other chapters will then present analysis from the prisms of elite/leadership (Chapter 3), the serumpun tradition (Chapter 4), nationalist sentiment (Chapter 5), and Islam (Chapter 6), before integrating those constructive factors for a final generalized assessment of how the many cor
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
StateUnpublished - 2009

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