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Malaysian Airlines, Neoliberalism and Business as Usual in Malaysia

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Using mixed qualitative and quantitative analysis, I analyse moves made by Malaysian authorities as they seek to engage coercive capital—in the form of state-directed market maneuvers—and mobile capital—in the form of institutional investors’ discourses—in the aftermath of the financial crises of 1997–1998 and 2007–2008. I argue that the Malaysian case reveals the continuing valence of structures of neoliberalism and, in particular, the ways in which local legitimacy continues to be mediated by global market makers. First, I show how in semi-democratic states, neoliberal policies enable the consolidation of power along intersectional axes of class and ethnicity. Next, using Tajudin Ramli’s corporate empire (as enmeshed with Malaysian Airlines) as a modal example, I explore the continuities in the nexus of political and economic elites in Malaysia. Finally, by examining discourses of the Malaysian market’s credibility among institutional investors, I show continuities in how regimes of truth are shaped through neoliberal market structures. If post-neoliberalism leads to transformations in macroeconomic policies and political discourses, I argue that in Malaysia, by contrast, we see intensification of neoliberal policies and discourses, rather than transformation.

Affiliations: 1: Saint Mary’s College Notre Dame


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