Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of History and Politics


In this thesis I argue that a security-based approach to an analysis of Malaysia offers a new perspective on that country’s politics and political system. Since colonialism, Malaysia has been a state obsessed by its own security, particularly the internal dimension of its security. I focus on the impact of security issues and, particularly, security policy on Malaysia’s political development. In terms of policy, Malaysia has developed what I call the Malaysian Security Model. The Model represents a ‘total approach’ to security that attempts to eliminate threats both physically and ideologically. The Model thus has two main functional tools, one coercive, comprised of a series of repressive, preventive laws, and the other ideological. The latter is comprised of a series of government philosophies and broad agendas designed to promote government interests and limit the discursive space for alternate and opposing viewpoints. I argue that Malaysia’s security approach has impacted on almost all areas of government policy, including economics, education, foreign affairs, and culture. I argue that Malaysia’s security policy is fundamentally concerned not with national security, as it is traditionally defined, but with regime security – that is, safeguarding the interests of the dominant Barisan Nasional (BN/National Front). This overall aim underlies virtually every application of the Security Model.