King Makers/King Breakers: Anthropological Perspectives on Sabah and
Sarawak Politics with Vilashini Somiah, Tian Chua and Sophie Lemiere
One year into a New Malaysia, the politics in Sabah and Sarawak remain
unpredictable for most. The two Bornean states of Malaysia continue to
influence and be influenced the peninsular of Malaysia, through various
party strategies and federal policies. The calculation to remain in
power for the Pakatan Harapan coalition cannot be made without taking
into account their local allies, and enemies in the Bornean states.
Sabah and Sarawak are thus seen as either King Makers, or King Breakers,
and are often overlooked by observers of Malaysian Politics.
Also, the research in/on two states have often utilized the same tools
of analysis used in the peninsular of Malaysia, greatly neglecting local
historical, social and sociology points of views. This includes
narratives from vulnerable populations such as the indigenous community,
migrants and women.
In this seminar, Vilashini Somiah and Sophie Lemiere analyze the recent
developments of Sabah and Sarawak politics since the 2018 election’s
victory and discuss new approaches to conducting research in Borneo.
Tian Chua brings his perspective as former Vice President of the
Keadilan Party and MP for Batu (Kuala Lumpur). It will also highlight
the importance of anthropological research in a field where both the
local dynamics and data collection are incredibly complex.
Chua Tian Chang, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-president Chua Tian
Chang or better known as Tian Chua has been appointed as special adviser
to Works Minister Baru Bian effective March 1. The former Batu MP (2008
-2018), holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree from University
of Sydney, Australia (1984-1986) and Bachelor of Arts (History and
Philosophy of Science) from University of New South Wales, Australia
(1989). He also holds a Master’s of Arts (Employment and Labor
Studies) from the Institute of Social Studies, in The Hague, Netherlands
Vilashini Somiah is a Sabahan anthropologist who received her PhD from
the National University of Singapore. Currently a senior lecturer at the
Gender Studies Program at the University of Malaya, she maintains a keen
interest for underrepresented narratives of women, migrants and Bornean
living in the interiors. Outside of academia, she writes ethnographic
articles on the local socio-political landscape.
Sophie Lemiere is a political anthropologist at Harvard University, and
currently a Visiting Research Scholar at CSEAS. She is currently writing
her first monograph on political legitimacy based on her experience in
the inner circles of Mahathir from December 2017 to May 2018.
Organizers: Dr. Sophie LEMIERE and Dr. Hiroyuki YAMAMOTO, Associate
Professor, CSEAS, Kyoto University