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MALAYSIA'S POST-9/11 SECURITY STRATEGY: WINNING "HEARTS AND MINDS" OR LEGITIMISING THE POLITICAL STATUS QUO?

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Author(s): Andrew Humphreys

Journal: Kajian Malaysia
ISSN 0127-4082

Volume: 28;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 21;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: Malaysia | terrorism | counter-terrorism | war on terror | Islam | Islam Hadhari | ideology | Mahathir Mohamad | Abdullah Badawi

ABSTRACT
Since the Emergency, the Malaysian government has maintained a security policy which somewhat paradoxically combines the use ofcoercive, repressive legislation with a "hearts and minds" ideology.Following 9/11, I argue that the government has adapted this "heartsand minds" approach to the so-called War on Terror. The BarisanNasional governments of Mahathir Mohamad and Abdullah Badawi bothformulated ideological strategies designed to undermine the ideological strength of al-Qaeda and establish Malaysia as a leader of the Muslim world. Mahathir and Abdullah hinged their ideological approach on a state-constructed form of Islam and sought to portray Malaysia as a tolerant and moderate Muslim country. However, it will be shown that the use of ideology in Malaysia is often calibrated to ensure regime security rather than national security. The Malaysian government has used its ideology to promote elite interests and limit the discursive space for alternative and opposing viewpoints. Significantly, ideology has been used to justify crackdowns against genuine political opponents and to legitimise the political status quo.
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