Elections and Democracy in Malaysia. 2005. Penerbit UKM: Bangi. ISBN 967-942-737-4 (hard cover). ISBN 967-942-736-6 (paper back) 474 pp. RM 60.00. Mavis Puthucheary & Norani Othman (eds.) Elections and Democracy in Malaysia provides a composite study of the role and functions of elctions in Malaysia by locating the electoral system within its broader historical and socio-cultural milieu. Its chapters cover such diverse subjects as the limits to democracy, the party system and how the dominant party system has evolved in Malaysia, the way political parties have functioned at the national, state and local government levels, and the role of the media and the judiciary in the electoral process.
The nature of political representation in Malaysia and its consequences for political participation and the various way in which civil society organizations have become engaged in the electoral process and politics are also explored. Some of the contributors to this study consider whether or not elections in Malaysia are reasonably free and fair by highlighting areas where the conduct of elections may be called into question, such as the periodic redelineation of constituency boundaries, the maintaining of up-to-date and accurate electoral rolls, and the administration of the mechanisms for the nomination of candidates and polling procedures.
Its various chapters, including both scholarly analyses of formal party politics and also accounts of civil society activities, will have a significant effect on how people think about and prepare for Malaysia’s next elections, and for citizens’ attempts to enlarge the meaning of Malaysian democracy generally. This study will long stand as an interim assessment of Malaysian politics towards the end of the first half-century of independence: as a ‘mid-term review’ of the continuing development of Malaysian democracy as a ‘work progress’.