Patronage politics and natural resources: a historical case study of Malaysia and Singapore

Varkkey, H. (2013) Patronage politics and natural resources: a historical case study of Malaysia and Singapore. Asian Profile, 41 (4). pp. 319-330. ISSN 0304-8675,

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As the modernisation of agribusiness became a more important driver of development for many Southeast Asian states, the region’s environment has become severely degraded. This paper argues that throughout the developmental history of Southeast Asia, the role of patronage politics has been a key factor behind environmental degradation. This paper focuses on Malaysia and Singapore as select case studies to show how political realities encourage patronage politics in the pursuit of development. It presents historical evidence concerning the circumstances preceding and surrounding early appearances of patronage networks in these countries, particularly within the natural resource sector. It argues that upon decolonization, the attitudes of the decision-making elite of these countries region shaped development to focus on elite-centred natural resource exploitation. With government structures, processes and policies often favouring the interests of big businesses, environmental exploitation has remained the major drivers of growth in these countries. This paper is part two of a two-part series by the same author, the first part of which focused on Southeast Asia in general and Indonesia in particular, and appeared in the previous volume of this journal.

Item Type: Article
Funders: University of Malaya, University of Sydney
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Ms Helena Varkkey
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2013 02:00
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2013 02:00

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