[DEFERRED] RSIS Seminar by Dato’ Sri Saifuddin bin Abdullah, Member of Parliament for Indera Mahkota
Malaysia’s Foreign Policy: Prospects and Constraints
Due to unforeseen circumstances, the abovementioned Seminar is deferred.
Malaysia is a key Southeast Asian state, which has played an active role in regional affairs and on specific issues of global significance. This is manifest in Malaysia’s diplomatic activism in the United Nations and ASEAN in meeting regional challenges and its strong advocacy of non-alignment vis-à-vis all major powers. It is known for its Islamic diplomacy and building of cooperative ties with diverse countries to promote international trade and investments, which are critical for Malaysia’s economic growth. However, Malaysia, like several other countries, has faced recent challenges arising from the destructive impact of Covid-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, intensifying US-China competition, and heightened domestic political contestation. But, with crisis come opportunities.
This seminar will address the following:
- What are Malaysia’s fundamental foreign policy goals and its main tools for achieving these goals?
- Is Malaysia seeking to continue playing a leading role in regional affairs, including on ASEAN unity and centrality, the management of the impact from US-China rivalry, regional stability and security, and trade liberalisation, and how might it do so in a changing environment?
- What are the domestic and external constraints in Malaysia’s conduct of foreign affairs?
- What are the key institutions and players in Malaysian foreign policymaking, and their respective perspectives?
- What are Malaysia’s key bilateral relations, and its vital interests in these relationships?
- What are the regional and international issues and developments of particular interest for Malaysian foreign policy in the coming years?
About the Speaker
Dato’ Sri Saifuddin Abdullah is Member of Parliament for Indera Mahkota, the Opposition’s Head for Education and Higher Education Portfolios, and former Minister of Foreign Affairs (2 July 2018 – 24 February 2020; 27 August 2021 – 19 November 2022). He was also Minister of Communication and Multimedia, and Deputy Minister of Higher Education (2020-2021).
Saifuddin is a progressive politician who advocates New Politics, youth empowerment and integrated education. He is involved in work on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Political Financing Act and political/governance reform. He is Founder of the Malaysian Women Basketball League and co-founder of the Malaysian Universities Royal Debate.
Prior to participating in active politics, Saifuddin was President of the Malaysian Youth Council, Member of the United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Youth Employment, Consultant of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and Joint-Secretary of Bosnia Action Front. He was also a passionate student activist.
He has written nine books, the latest two being Kehidupan Digital: Teknologi yang Manusiawi (Digital Life: Humane Technology) (2022), and New Politics 2.0: Multiracial and Moderate Malaysian Democracy (2017). He authored two Policy Papers, Change in Continuity: Foreign Policy Framework for New Malaysia (2018) and Focus in Continuity: Malaysia’s Foreign Policy Framework for Post-Pandemic World (2021). He is also a columnist at Sinar Harian (the biggest Malay daily in Malaysia).
Born in 1961, Saifuddin studied at The Malay College Kuala Kangsar and received a BA (Hons) from Universiti Malaya. He is married to Norlin Shamsul Bahri and they have a daughter, Nur Madihah.