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Social movements and the crisis of neoliberalism in Malaysia and Thailand

Discussion Papers

No.238

by KHOO Boo Teik
June 2010

ABSTRACT

Of the Southeast Asian countries most badly affected by the 1997 financial crisis, Malaysia and Thailand remain the most unsettled by its political fallout. Their present political situations are not akin to ‘politics as usual’. Instead, they capture the unpredicted outcomes of post-crisis struggles to reorganize structures of economic and political power. Comparing the situations in Malaysia and Thailand, this paper focuses on their differing state and civil society engagements with neoliberalism. It is suggested that the post-crisis contestations, sometimes tied to pre-crisis conflicts in political economy, left something of a stalemate: neither neoliberalism nor the social movements satisfactorily fulfilled their agendas in either country.

Keywords: Neoliberalism, social movements, East Asian financial crisis, Malaysia, Thailand

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