Rents, accumulation and conflict in Malaysia

Document Type



Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, London


This paper examines conflict in Malaysia through an analysis of rents and the relationship between the economic imperative for growth and political imperative for stability. It links episodes of conflict and political instability to the social forces that drive the allocation of rents and the impact of these rents on the pattern of accumulation. It examines how the emergence and expansion of the Malay intermediate classes increased contestation and conflict over the allocation of rents that compromised the state’s ability to balance the political imperative for stability with the economic imperative for growth. It traces Malaysia’s long-term economic slowdown associated with premature deindustrialization to the state prioritizing rents for accommodation (redistribution) over rents for learning and accumulation.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Southeast Asian Studies