Prospects for moderate and progressive government in Malaysia

On the international stage Prime Minister Najib Razak has been widely praised for his commitment to a moderate and progressive form of Islam. But at home, this year alone, the ruling UMNO has agreed to cooperate with opposition Party Islam to introduce hudud law in Kelantan; Malaysia’s highest court has decreed that Malay-speaking Christians may not use the word Allah, even though they have done so for more than a century; a state Islamic department seized over 300 Malay-language editions of the bible then refused government instructions to return them; and a senior minister declared that Malaysia was not a secular state.

On a related front, since May this year around twenty sedition charges have been laid or enquiries initiated, against opposition leaders, activists, university scholars, journalists and students â€" notwithstanding that in July 2012 the Prime Minister promised to repeal this catch-all act, describing it as belonging to a 'bygone era'.

The economy, meanwhile, continues to grow at around 5% pa, but is not matching achievements before the Asian economic crisis of 1997-98. Economists warn of tougher times ahead, particularly with rising inflation and a higher cost of living. The allocation of large handouts to cushion these problems limits funds available for development.

Can the opposition coalition, beset by its own internal and intra-party conflicts, help turn this situation around?

This public lecture aims to provide insightful political views on the prevailing state in Malaysia and presented by the Malaysian Opposition politicians:

Rafizi Ramli MP (Vice President of People's Justice Party)

Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad MP (Selangor State Minister)

Sim Tze Tzin MP (People's Justice Party)

Darell Leiking MP (People's Jusitce Party)

Lee Chean Chung MP (Green activist)