Bob Olivier

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


This book has described how over the last fifty years Malaysia has become a much more Islamically conservative country, and what this has meant for both its Muslim and non-Muslim communities. Through a programme of in-depth interviews, it has presented what the author believes are the genuine views of 100 members of an elite subset of the population about this Islamisation Phenomenon, as well as those of a range of “public intellectuals”, via both comments in the mainstream media, and academic texts. His assessment, resulting from extensive desk research, the formal interview programme and his experience of thirty years living and working in Kuala Lumpur, is that the Islamisation Phenomenon is having a negative effect on the country. It is driving a further wedge between the Muslim Malays and the non-Muslim Chinese and Indians, and it is reducing the freedom of action of the Malays to live their lives as they see fit, rather than as the government authorities and their more conservative fellow Malays see fit. He believes the fears expressed by the research participants about Malaysia’s future are well-founded. However, he acknowledges that perhaps there is a possibility that the current trajectory of Islamisation could be halted, even reversed. As explained earlier, the research that was the basis for this book was completed before the ground-breaking election of May 2018, which saw the first change of the central government since Independence in 1957. Since much of the impetus for the Islamisation Phenomenon came from the central government, it is reasonable to speculate whether the change of government is likely to result in a change of direction in this regard. The author briefly outlines the build-up to the election, its results, and some of the challenges facing the central government, and then gives his reasons as to why he does not believe the trajectory of Islamisation described in the previous chapters is likely to change significantly.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIslamic Revivalism and Politics in Malaysia
Subtitle of host publicationProblems in Nation Building
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-15-0882-0
ISBN (Print)978-981-15-0881-3
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameCritical Studies of the Asia-Pacific
ISSN (Print)2662-222X
ISSN (Electronic)2662-2238


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