Mahathirism and Human Rights in Malaysia

By Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper is about Mahathirism or Mahathir’s views on human rights. It supports the argument that Mahathirism is in fact a type of cultural relativism against universalism or Western liberalism specifically in the Malaysian context. The main idea of Mahathirism comes from Mahathir’s argument of “Asian values”. Mahathir’s argument of Asian values can also be split into the arguments of anti-Western imperialism, strong government, communitarianism and social and economic rights. Mahathir rejects universalism or the Western liberal notion of human rights which, he believes, can corrupt Malaysian culture and religious beliefs. Mahathir claims that Western pressure on developing countries, including Malaysia, over human rights and democratisation is intended to cause instability, economic decline and poverty. With such a situation, the West can threaten and control Malaysia. However, critics obviously dispute the Mahathir’s purported intention in restricting human rights, arguing that his real intention was to exploit these issues as a justification for curtailing opposition and reinforcing his position in power, plus for hiding the human rights violation in Malaysia.

Keywords: Mahathirism, Human Rights, Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia, Cultural Relativism, Universalism

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.323-338. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 662.940KB).

Dr. Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani

Senior Lecturer, College of Law, Government and International Studies, University Utara Malaysia, Sintok, Kedah, Malaysia

I am a Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the College of Law, Government and International Studies, University of Utara Malaysia. I am also a Chairman of National Resilience Studies at the Institute of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s Thoughts, University Utara Malaysia. I receive my doctorate (PhD) in Politics and International Relations from the School of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy (SPIRE), Keele University, United Kingdom.

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