Religion and politics in Malaysia: A case for “Semi-Secularism”?
This paper examines the dynamics of tension and accommodation at the interface between religion and politics in Malaysia. Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy and carries elements of both Islamic as well as liberal democratic governance. By focusing on the processes of Islamisation, institutionalisation and political communication, the analysis seeks to transcend static theoretical discussions that simply query the compatibility between Islam and democracy. It is suggested that strategic political decision-making by various political actors in the government and civil society in Malaysia has given rise to a hybrid democratic-Islamist political system that constantly equilibrates itself in response to internal and external systemic challenges.