Blog Archives

Democracy is not Government by Democrats, and Authoritarianism is not Government by Authoritarians

In a post from October 2015, “Democratic Disappointments, Authoritarian Reformists, and Political Equilibria,” I mused about a seemingly ironic feature of contemporary Malaysian politics. The former dictator Mahathir Mohamad, a staunch defender of ruling party hegemony who happily jailed opponents

Posted in Current Affairs, Malaysia, Politics, Research

Dictators use the Media Differently than Narcissists and Bullies

On Saturday, Sean Spicer held a press conference in which he lied about the size of President Trump’s inauguration audience and then refused to take questions. To many, this was just more evidence of the new administration’s authoritarian ambitions (see

Posted in Current Affairs, Indonesia, Malaysia, Politics

Finding and Eating the Old Malacca

Yesterday I took a day trip from Kuala Lumpur to Malacca. I first visited in 2005, and things have changed. What then seemed like a pleasant little historic town has been aggressively developed for the tourist market. The development is

Posted in Food and Drink, Malaysia, Travel

Everyday Authoritarianism is Boring and Tolerable

Malaysia is a country that I know well, and whose political system I have studied closely for fifteen years. It is also a country whose political liberalization I have long awaited. Malaysia has a multiparty parliamentary system of government, but

Posted in Malaysia, Politics

First Mee Hokkien

I recently learned that I am no longer allergic to shellfish. I first received a diagnosis of a shellfish allergy back in 2004 after undergoing the standard allergy test, but since then had never experienced an adverse reaction despite several

Posted in Food and Drink, Malaysia

“Nippon-go—America Come”

From Chin Kee Onn’s famous Malaya Upside Down, about the Japanese occupation of Malaya during WWII: Hatred of the ‘communists’ became a Japanese obsession, and so great was it that anyone who had the slightest pro-Allied sentiment, anyone who made

Posted in Language, Malaysia, Politics

The Culture of Political Culture in Indonesia and Malaysia

What do Jokowi‘s Mental Revolution and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi‘s Islam Hadhari have in common? They are both normative expressions of desire for a new kind of politics that is more ethical, just, humane, and progressive, even if they differ in

Posted in Indonesia, Islam, Malaysia, Politics, Research

Meng Kee Grilled Fish

Last time I visited KL I sampled the delectable Marmite Frogs Legs at Wong Ah Wah, on Jalan Alor. This time, following the advice of HUNGRY GO WHERE, I ventured next door for the grilled fish at Meng Kee Grilled

Posted in Food and Drink, Malaysia

The Beef Ball Kees

Southeast Asia is famed for its rich and tasty soups. One variety that I had not much experience with in KL is beef noodle soup, the Malaysian cousin of pho and bakso. So, together with a friend, I tried today

Posted in Food and Drink, Malaysia

Batu Caves

When JMP and I lived in Kuala Lumpur about a decade ago, we were not very good at being local tourists. We spent most of our time getting out of KL on the weekends, and rarely spent time just looking

Posted in Malaysia, Travel
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