Controlling the Narrative: The Law, Human Rights and 1MDB in Malaysia


Controlling the Narrative: The Law, Human Rights and 1MDB in Malaysia

Monday, 16 January 2017 - 2:00pm
Dahrendorf Room
Kerstin Steiner (Monash)
Dr Matthew J Walton
Southeast Asia Seminar

This talk will be held under the Chatham House Rule: participants may report on information provided during the talk, but not directly or indirectly attribute it, or make any recording of the talk.

Malaysia usually features at the periphery of international news, recent events have thrust the Southeast Asian nation into the limelight. In 2015, after recovering from the two airline tragedies of the previous year, Malaysia found itself again in the headlines of the international press. Since then, allegations of mismanagement of funds in the state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhard (1MDB) have dominated the news. 1MDB was set up in 2009 when Prime Minister Najib Razak came into office, and was supposed to oversee Kuala Lumpur’s transformation into a thriving commercial hub. Criticisms, including from former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, have added to the mounting pressure on Mr Najib, amid reports of missing paper trails and the mismanagement of millions of dollars. The scandal has triggered a national and international ‘crisis of confidence’, undermining the trust in the current regime’s ability to conduct a transparent investigation into this matter. The talk will look at the crisis management and in particular on the official responses to those allegations.

Kerstin Steiner is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Business Law and Taxation, Monash Business School specialising on Southeast Asian and the intersection of law, religion, culture, politics and economics. She is also an Associate of the Asian Law Centre and the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society, both at the University of Melbourne. She has held numerous visiting positions including being the first (female) non-Muslim visiting scholar at the Department of Shariah and Law, Academy of Islamic Studies, University of Malaya; Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Politics and Law, Osaka University; and a visiting scholar position at the Centre for Socio-legal Studies, University of Oxford.
Her publications include ‘Rule of Law in Brunei’ in Rule of Law in ASEAN Region: Update on the Baseline Study commissioned by the Human Rights Resource Centre (2016); ‘Comparative Law in Syariah Courts: A Case Study of Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei’ in Mads Adenas and Duncan Fairgrieve (eds) Comparative Law before the Courts, Oxford University Press (2015); Islam, Law and the State in Southeast Asia a co-authored two volumes series published by IB Tauris (2012); and a forthcoming chapter ‘Politics and Economics: The 1MDB Scandal and Corruption in Malaysia’ in Sophie Lemiere (ed) Misplaced Democracy.