RSIS Seminar by Yang Berhormat Nik Nazmi bin Nik Ahmad, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Youth Chief; and Member of Parliament, Malaysia
What’s in Store for a “New Nation”?: Reformasi, Legacy, and the Future of Racial Politics in Malaysia Baru
Since Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) historic win on May 9th, analysts have been mixed in assessing the future of social, political, and economic trajectories in Malaysia. Malaysia has never known a government apart from the UMNO-led Barisan Nasional (BN). Yet, PH’s ascension to power comes alongside regime change and continuity – with many former BN leaders entering into political office. This seminar will discuss how Malaysian politics may evolve under the new Mahathir administration. Three core themes discussed will be: (1) How effective will measures to introduce bureaucratic reform be amidst decades of patronage politics? (2) What steps will Mahathir take to cement his prime ministerial legacy – while also attempting to unwind Najibs own legacy – both in his domestic policy and foreign policy with Singapore, China, and other key partners? (3) What is the future of racial politics and racialised fault lines under PH’s assortment of ideologically different parties?
About the Speaker
Nik Nazmi bin Nik Ahmad contested in the one seat that Barisan Nasional has not lost before in Kuala Lumpur – Setiawangsa, during the historic 2018 General Election. The seat has 21,000 advance voters – mostly military and police. Nik Nazmi was able to win with a majority of more than 14,000 votes and became part of the new Pakatan Harapan administration that formed the Federal Government. Nik Nazmi graduated King’s College in the University of London, where he read law. During his university years, he was active in various organisations including the King’s College London Malaysia Singapore Society, Malaysian Law Prosecutors Union (KPUM), the United Kingdom & Eire Executive Council for Malaysian Students (UKEC), the King’s College London Labour Students and the Federation of Students Islamic Societies United Kingdom and Eire (FOSIS). He was also a facilitator for Projek Kalsom, a project for underprivileged secondary school students in 2004.
In 2005, Nik Nazmi returned to Malaysia to work as an executive in Permodalan Nasional Berhad. At the same time, he started his political career by becoming a member of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Kelana Jaya. He then joined Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s office as his private secretary. In 2007, Nik Nazmi was appointed to the KEADILAN Youth Exco. In the 12th General Elections in 2008, he was elected as Selangor State Assemblyman for Seri Setia as the youngest candidate in the 12th General Election. He was appointed as the Political Secretary to the Selangor Menteri Besar. In 2010 he was subsequently appointed as KEADILAN’s Communication Director. He also served as a member of the Selangor State Assembly’s Select Committee on the Freedom of Information Enactment that played a key role in redrafting and passing Malaysia’s first freedom of information enactment. In the 13th General Election, Nik Nazmi succeeded in defending his Seri Setia constituency and was subsequently elected as the Deputy Speaker of the Selangor State Legislative Assembly. In the 2014 party elections, Nik Nazmi was elected as the KEADILAN Youth Leader. Three years later, he became the first Pakatan Harapan Youth Leader. Under the administration of the 15th Menteri Besar of Selangor, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, he was appointed as the State Executive Councillor (Exco) for Education, Human Capital Development, Science, Technology and Innovation. He was also appointed as the Chairman of Selangor’s Public Library Corporation, first Chairman of the Board of Governors for Universiti Selangor, as well as a member of the Board of Directors for UNISEL, Yayasan Selangor and Institut Darul Ehsan. Nik Nazmi has also written several books in Malay and English as well as in various publications including Malay Mail, the Star, Malaysiakini, and Suara Keadilan. He has columns in the Edge (English), Sinar Harian (Malay) and Oriental Daily News (Mandarin).