The Politics of Technocracy in Malaysia (1957-2012)



Malaysia’s technocracy (administrative elite) and the government of the day (political elite) have had and continue to enjoy a harmonious and symbiotic relationship. Such synergy had its origins and background in British colonial rule when promising Malays were groomed for administrative positions. The dawn of
merdeka (national independence) allowed for the transition from administrative
positions to political leadership. The first three prime ministers, namely Tunku
Abdul Rahman, Abdul Razak and Hussein Onn were drawn from these ranks.
There was an organic development in the relationship between the ‘old’ technocrats and politicians expressed in shared strategic outlook and direction. As such, national development was characterised not by intermittent periods of political disruption but a sustained period of continuity in the pre-conditions for economic growth which extended and heightened throughout the premiership of
Mahathir Mohamad. His successor, Abdullah Badawi, started to install corporate
figures as technocrats to professionalise the governance of the administrative
system. Under Najib Razak the role of these ‘new’ technocrats was further entrenched and enhanced.


Technocracy; economic management; developmental politics; Najibnomics

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