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.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.