Malaysia and the United States mark 65 years of diplomatic relations in 2022. It is a longstanding relationship based on a strong foundation of strategic and economic cooperation. Yet, the political tenor of the relationship has had its highs and lows, and there is an apparent scepticism, at the minimum, among the Malaysian mainstream media and public towards US foreign policy. At the same time, the US is a strong partner of Malaysia in defence relations and security matters such as counterterrorism and maritime domain awareness. The US was also Malaysia’s largest foreign investor in 2020 and its third largest trading partner. Malaysia has hosted high-profile visits from US administrations including Secretary of State Antony Blinken most recently.
What are the critical elements of the relationship that are often under-appreciated? What is the trajectory for bilateral relations in these uncertain times for Malaysia and Asia, given heightened domestic political contestation, economic headwinds, and regional geopolitical competition?
This webinar aims to discuss the challenges and opportunities for bilateral political, defence and economic relations, and to uncover the underlying factors and players that make this a complex and elusive relationship for observers.
About the speakers
Elina Noor is Director, Political-Security Affairs and Deputy Director, Washington, D.C. Office at the Asia Society Policy Institute. Her work focuses on security developments in Southeast Asia, global governance and technology, and preventing/countering violent extremism.
Previously, she was Associate Professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. Prior to that, she was Director, Foreign Policy and Security Studies at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia. She was also formerly with the Brookings Institution’s Project on US Relations with the Islamic World. Between 2017 and 2019, she was a member of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace. She currently serves on the ICRC’s Global Advisory Board on digital threats during conflict.
She read law at Oxford University. She obtained an LL.M (Public International Law) from The London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, graduating with distinction at the top of her class. A recipient of the Perdana (Malaysian Prime Minister’s) Fellowship, she also holds an MA in Security Studies from Georgetown University where she was a Women in International Security Scholar.
Adam Leong Kok Wey is Professor of Strategic Studies, and Director of the Centre for Defence and International Security Studies (CDISS) at the National Defence University of Malaysia (NDUM). He also lectures at the Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College (MTAT) and the National Resilience College (NRC).
He has held a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford (2015-2016), and he was the 2014 ‘Australia-Malaysia Towards 2020 Fellow’ at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. In 2021, he was selected to attend the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) by the US Department of State. He was involved in the drafting of Malaysia’s first Defence White Paper in 2019, and Malaysia’s National Security Policy 2021-2025.
He holds a PhD in strategic studies from the University of Reading and a Master of Strategic and Defence Studies from the University of Malaya. He has published numerous articles on grand strategy, special operations, airpower strategy, intelligence history, and foreign policy in The RUSI Journal, Comparative Strategy, Journal of Intelligence History, Australian Journal of Maritime and Ocean Affairs, Special Operations Journal, Air Power History, The National Interest, Strategos, The Diplomat and The East Asia Forum. His most recent books are Strategy and Special Operations from Eastern and Western Perspectives (Kuala Lumpur: NDUM Press, 2021), and Killing the Enemy! Assassination operations during World War II (London: Bloomsbury, 2020).
Marc Mealy is the Senior Vice President-Policy at the US-ASEAN Business Council. He manages the production of the Council’s information products, coordinates advocacy efforts across its country and industry committees, and serves as the in-house lead on international trade policy. He has over twenty years of experience in international trade and economics. He began his professional career in 1989 as an international economist with the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Services. He joined the African American Institute in 1994, and later worked as a consultant to foreign governments and international development NGOs.
From 1999 to 2001, he was a member of the Professional Staff of the House International Relations Committee of the US Congress. From 2001 to 2003, he served as the international economic and foreign policy advisor to Congressmen Gregory Meeks of New York, a member of the House Foreign Affairs and Financial Services Committees.
He holds a B.A. in Economics and Third World Studies from Oberlin College and an M.S. in Economics from the University of Florida.