Islam, Public Policy and Public Administration in Malaysia: Negotiating Complexities

Abdillah Noh

Abstract


This paper traces the incorporation of Islam in the administration of Malaysia/Malaya before, during and after British rule. It concludes that Islam has indeed contributed to Malaysia’s administration and its political thinking but with a few qualifications. First, the infusion of Islamic values in local administration, in the precolonial period, was tempered with the need to incorporate the Malay idea of Kerajaan where the Raja (the King), not the Malay race or an Islamic Umma was the key object of loyalty. Second, even when British law and administration became vehicles for the Islamization process of the Malayan polity the incorporation of Islamic values in public administration had to be reconciled with the demands of an increasingly plural Malayan polity. Finally, instead of legislating Islamic behavior and punishing non-conformance, post-independent Malaysia has chosen a more subtle option of making Islamic behavior readily achievable by invoking a moderation ethos like Islam Hadhari and Wassatiyah.

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