The Malaysian political system is characterized by the connivance of powers, the intricate relationship existing between political, social and economic actors. The liberalization of the public sphere since the resignation of the 22 year-long leadership of Mohammad Mahathir has indeed paved the way for the emergence of civil surrogates of political parties. Political parties in fact use Malaysian civil society as a veil to hide and promote the rise of militants who are indeed sub-contractors of party-discourse and actions. Connivance militancy is a secret political arrangement by which a formal political actor (i.e: a political party, a government or a politician) sub-contracts legal and/or illegal political actions serving its interests and ranging from advocacy, to demonstrations and violence, to groups of individuals (Lemière 2013). This paper is drawn from a new and on-going comparative research in Malaysia (2008-2014) and Tunisia (2014) exploring the rise connivance militants in young democracies as a conjectural and/or systemic phenomenon. This paper based primary sources and ethnographic interviews will show how the end of the Mahathir era in Malaysia and the fall of the system of patronage in Tunisia may have reconfigured the system of political allegiance; it will also expose how connivance militancy is today formulated and shaped in both countries. In a longer term, this comparative perspective aims at defining a general pattern of connivance militancy in transitional regimes from two different areas of study and in spite of national specificities.
About the Speaker:
Sophie Lemière (PhD 2014) is Postdoc Fellow at the European University Instate In Florence, Italy. Her research on Malaysian Politics is based on extensive field research conducted since 2006. Sophie’s area of expertise focus both on religious politics and political militancy in a comparative perspective with Tunisia. Her Master thesis explored the Apostasy controversies and Islamic civil society, and her PhD is an original analysis of the relationship between gangs and political parties in Malaysia. Former research associate at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) then affiliated Junior Reseearcher at the Asian Research Institute (ARI-NUS), she hold a PhD and a Master in Comparative Politics from Sciences-Po (France).
Organised by Malaysia Programme, IDSS and RSIS Events Unit.