On the 25th April 2019, The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) launched their policy paper, “ Reviving the Spirit of Federalism: Decentralisation Policy Options for a New Malaysia”, written by IDEAS Fellow, Tricia Yeoh. The paper explores Malaysia’s history as a highly centralised constitutional federation, and presents several administrative and fiscal conflicts between the federal and state governments. Some of the policy recommendations include a review of the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution, the restoration of local council elections and for states to receive proceeds from consumption taxes. “Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto pledges to restore the original spirit of federalism, and these are concrete steps that can actually be done now in upholding its commitments,” mentions Tricia.
During the launch, IDEAS Founding President YAM Tunku Zain al-’Abidin ibni Tuanku Muhriz gave the welcoming remarks, followed by the paper presentation by Tricia Yeoh. A panel discussion then followed, with YB Hassan bin Abdul Karim, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Federal-State Relations, Dato’ Dr. Ooi Kee Beng, Executive Director of Penang Institute and Professor William Case, Head of School of Politics, History and International Relations at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus as panellists.
Dato’ Dr. Ooi gave a historical account of the origins of Malaysia’s federalism, YB Hassan provided an overview of his Committee’s mandate and duties, while Professor Case touched upon the future of the federation under Malaysia Baharu. Some of the highlights from the discussion include how decentralisation and greater state autonomy can be balanced while achieving economic efficiency, and the importance of robust institutions at both federal and state levels.
“I am hopeful that this paper will contribute to the Government’s efforts in reviving the spirit of federalism, especially in the New Malaysia. I urge the Select Committee to consider some of the policy recommendations provided in the paper.” said Tricia.