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Regionalism and Democracy in Asia: The Australia-Malaysia Nexus

Reilly, B. Regionalism and Democracy in Asia: The Australia-Malaysia Nexus. In: Tazreiter, Claudia and Tham, Siew Yean, (eds.) Globalization and Social Transformation in the Asia Pacific: The Australian and Malaysian Experience. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 15-29.

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In this chapter I intend to use the interplay between Malaysian and Australian academics to highlight the role of both countries in the evolving regional architecture of East Asia. In so doing, I discuss the importance, both conceptually and empirically, of liberal democracy to competing visions of regionalism and security in Asia. This helps illuminate what I call the ‘Australia-Malaysia’ nexus as a key part of the process of Asian regional integration and institution building.

To understand this story, we need to think back to the 1980s, a period when Mahathir Mohamed rose to political dominance in Malaysia while Australia began to seriously invest in the idea of itself as an Asian-Pacific country. These separate processes set both countries on something of a collision course. Mahathir was a very wily politician who knew the domestic electoral rewards in being seen to stand-up to the West. In Australia, meanwhile, expectations that political leaders would be a voice for human rights and democracy in the region came face-to-face with the reality that entry to the Asian club could not be gained by lecturing its members.

Publication Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Management and Governance
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright: Palgrave Macmillan
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