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Briefings: Special Report on Malaysia

August 2001


For the last year, the Singapore Institute of International Affairs has provided Briefings to corporate members of the Singapore chapter of the Pacific Basin Economic Council and the Singapore Institute of International Affairs. Each two-page Briefings analyzed three or even four events in the region that would impact the political and economic context of business. In a world deluged by urgent headlines and overloaded with information, Briefings sought to be selective, insightful and brief. Its 300-600 word articles aimed, within the time constraints business leaders faced for reading, to serve their real needs for insight.

The record shows some success. One example was our analysis of Indonesia. Even amidst the uncertainty of 2000, Briefings saw that the growth of the legislature or MPR as a key new development. The role this institution has played in pushing President Abdurrahman Wahid from office in mid 2001 has vindicated this view. The response of our corporate members to Briefings has been encouraging.

The SIIA is now specially commissioning a series of Special Reports on the region. These Special Reports continue to aim for insight and concision. With a more detailed, but still readable format, we hope to add focus and more depth than was previously possible. This Special Report on Malaysia is the first of the series.

Malaysia is perhaps the most obvious country with which to begin. Economically, socially and historically, Malaysia and Singapore are intertwined. Links in business, trade and investment between two countries are thick. Looking to Malaysia has been second nature for most of the Singaporean business community. In recent years, however, tensions between the governments of the two countries have led to spats over a range of issues. More, the economic crisis has impacted the two countries differently, and led to different responses. Political events in Malaysia have also witnessed increasing controversy and conflict. There are many twists and turns, and less certainty and stability. The business community in Singapore is keen to know about Malaysia but uncertain about how precisely to read events there. It is in this context that this Special Report is offered.


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