Globalisation And National Security The Effects On Malaysia Politics Essay

Security is a fickle concept, the level of which is both relative to the observer’s position and subjective to the observer’s stance. Many factors influence the security of a nation state and a rise in security in one state may be balanced by a corresponding reduction in another. Conversely, universal actions or events may alter the whole system either upwards (periods of hegemonic rule) or downwards (financial crisis). Overall, the intricate balance of the global and individual security status is swayed by many issues such as globalisation, international economics and international politics on both micro and macro levels.

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Globalisation is an omnipresent process that involves an increasing level economic activity, interdependence and trade between countries. As the effects of globalisation increase throughout the world, the power of the state has been diminished as the influence and control levels of international governmental organizations, non-government organizations and trans-national corporations has increased. As such a shift in control and influence occurs the level of national security within any state must shift, but in which way? Proponents of globalisation postulate that globalisation increases security by reducing the likelihood of war by the promotion of trade, but if reviewed at a macro level, individual state national security may be adversely affected by globalisation.

Problem Statement

Malaysia, as one of the ‘Asian Tigers’ has carried out major change to its economy via it’s New Economic Policy programs since 1971. This program of encouraging industrialization of the Malaysian workforce and economy has been matched in recent decades by the emergence of globalisation as a world-wide phenomenon. Together, both have altered Malaysia’s national security relative to both Asia and the world, but to what effect?

The aim of this paper is to review the effects of economic globalisation on the national security of Malaysia with specific reference to recent events in the global economy and financial system, such as the Asian Financial Crisis of the late 1990s and the Global Financial Crisis that is still affecting the world.


The objective of this paper is to ascertain whether economic globalisation is eroding or strengthening the national security of Malaysia. In doing so this research will examine economic globalisation and its effects on national security; to assess the impact of the effects of economic globalisation using the Asian Financial Crisis (AFC) and the current Global Financial Crisis (GFC) as test cases; and to review Malaysia’s national security as affected by economic globalisation.

Significance of the Study

The significance of this study is the due to the lack of specific literature relating to economic globalisation and national security caused by the current GFC in a Malaysian context. This is due to timeliness and the fluid nature of both the current GFC and globalisation as a whole. Additionally, this study will provide an external view point on a little discussed and published topic of the links between economic globalisation, geo-politics, growth and development.

Most literature on the national security of Malaysia concentrates on the internal security of the country, the regional security provided by ASEAN and the internal military and defence capability. This research paper seeks to review the effects of the global economic changes on Malaysia and her security and to review the level of security internally looking outwards at the world and outwardly looking in towards Malaysia

Literature Review

This paper is on Malaysian national security. However to properly review this subject this paper will cover a number of interrelated topics. Therefore a variety of writings, including some on international relations theory, national autonomy, geo-economics theory and globalisation will be used. Contemporary articles and media will update current discussions on economic globalisation in a Malaysian context.


Joan M Nelson, Jacob Meerman and Abdul Rahman Embong, Globalization & National Authority: The Malaysian Experience, Singapore: Institute of South East Asian Studies

Malaysia has long had an uncertain relationship to globalization, yet it has been held as a shining example of the second tier of ‘Asian Tigers’, leading the way with export-led growth and the positive role for foreign direct investment. Despite the near continuous growth, up until the Asian Financial Crisis of the late 1990s, Malaysia’s political leadership has regularly expressed doubt about the role of the prevailing international political and economic order, regardless of the benefits economic globalisation has had on the country, its growth and its development. The authors bring together a group of Malaysian and foreign scholars to discuss and dissect the effects of globalisation on Malaysian development over the long-run. They full spectrum of issues is considered, from economic and social policy to new challenges from transnational Islam, and they are unafraid of voicing doubt where the effects of globalisation are overblown.

Geoffrey Till, Emrys Chew and Joshua Ho, Globalization and Defence in the Asia-Pacific: Arms across Asia, New York: Routledge, 2009.

This volume examines the impact of all forms of globalisation on the economies, military-industrial complexes and national security policies of the Asia-Pacific region.

The work is divided into three main parts. The first explores globalisation and its general outcomes on the policy making of the nation-state; the second section reviews how globalisation affects a state’s threat perception and defence posture within the context of the Asia-Pacific region; while the third examines how it impacts on a state’s apportionment of resources to defence, and how economic globalisation influences the defence industry, with specific reference to the defence procurement policies and practices of the different states across the Asia-Pacific.

Ganguly S, Scobell A and Liow J C, The Routledge Handbook of Asian Security Studies, Abindon: Routledge, 2010

This publication provides a detailed examination of security dynamics in the distinct sub-regions that make up Asia, and also links the study of these regions by examining the geopolitical ties between each of them. There are many interwoven and complexity of security issues throughout Asia, this publication deals with all foremost security issues in the area which range from unresolved territorial disputes (maritime and inland), unredeemed claims and intra-state conflicts to transnational terrorist movements and nuclear rivalries.

Andrew Sheng, From Asian to Global Financial Crisis: An Asian Regulator’s View of Unfettered Finance in the 1990s and 2000s, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009

Something Here

Baylis J. and Smith S., The Globalization of World Politics, An Introduction to International Affairs, 3rd Edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

The relationships between globalisation, international economics, international politics and security are discussed at length in The Globalization of World Politics, An Introduction to International Relations by John Baylis and Steve Smith, first published in 2001, updated in 2005 and again in 2008. While providing a comprehensive and detailed understanding of contemporary international relations overall, it is more an excellent generalist publication that a specialist work dealing with security and economics. The version available is from 2005; yet later versions exist that contain more up to date data, references and interpretations of the effects of globalisation on world politics.

Nathan K., 1998, Malaysia: Reinventing the Nation, in Alagappa, M. (ed.), Asian Security Practice: Material and Ideational Influences, California: Stanford University, pp. 513-548

This pivotal book chapter asks how is national security thought of and conceptualised in Malaysia. It analyses Malaysia’s conceptions of national security, showing the importance of historical legacies and the nation’s multi-ethnic composition. Given these intrinsic obstacles to national identity creation, the nation’s elite have focused on economic growth and modernisation as the methods of unifying and securing its population. Recent crises, however, may challenge this strategy and force the leadership to redefine its concepts of national security.

Malaysian national security concepts are inseparable from the country’s historical experience with British colonialism. This legacy precipitated the formation of the state ahead of the creation of a nation. As a result of this history, elite authority and state sovereignty have run ahead of a self-conscious national identity and cultural integration.

Nonetheless, it has been the difficult task of post-independence policy makers to form a nation out of the pluralist, multi-ethnic state received from the British. The significant influence on national security policy is shown by the constitutional, political, and economic arrangements that the ruling elite have made and used to protect and promote the complex interests of a multi-ethnic society. Recent claims of repression of minorities demonstrate the difficulties inherent in balancing and managing competing interests in the pursuit of national security and national identity.

Norrin M. Ripsman and T. V. Paul, Globalization and the National Security State, New York: Oxford University Press, 2010

Recently, many have postulated a correlation between the extent of globalisation and the erosion of the nation-state. In the sphere of national security, supporters of the globalisation thesis have argued that a states’ power has diminished compared to international governmental institutions, non-governmental organisations and trans-national corporations. At first they pointed to reductions in both global military expenditure (which has risen significantly in recent times) and interstate war. This book tests the proposition that these trends are indicative of the reduction of nation-state’s role as a guarantor of national security against the evidence available and finds that globalisation proponents have largely gotten it wrong. The reduction in interstate warfare can mostly be attributed to the end of the Cold War, not globalisation. Additionally, the great powers of the US, China, and Russia continue to pursue traditional nation-state policies and strategies. Regional security arrangements such as the European Union and ASEAN have not realised much, and weaker states, the ones most impacted by globalization, are significantly more traditional in their policies and approaches to national security, choosing to rely on their own resources and abilities rather than those of transnational and regional institutions.

Jonathan Kirshner, Globalization and National Security, New York: Routledge, 2006

Though much has been published on the topics of globalisation and national security, there has been little in the way of a methodical examination of the impact that globalisation has on the national security of states. In Globalization and National Security the top scholars of the international relations realm evaluate the consequences of globalisation on national security. This book identifies three distinct “processes” of globalisation – the flow of information, the intensification of economic exchange, and marketisation and explores how they can influence the capacity and power of nations and states, as well as clash within and among them. Most significantly, the book deals with how non-state actors, such as terrorists and smugglers, use the benefits of globalisation changes and how this, in turn, changes the nature of the security game. Failure to incorporate for the influence of globalisation will make it increasingly harder to understand variations in the prospects for conflict, the balance of power, and the strategic choices made by states.

Barry Buzan, Ole Waever and Jaap de Wilde, Security: A New Framework for Analysis, Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1988

This book describes how two schools of thought now exist in security studies: traditionalists wanting to restrict the subject to just politico-military issues and while liberalists who want to extend it across the societal, economic and environmental sectors. This book sets out an all-inclusive statement of the new security studies, founding the case for the broader agenda. The authors contend that security is a particular type of state politics applicable to a much wide range of issues. In answering the traditionalists ideal that this model makes the topic incoherent, they offer a constructivist operational model for differentiating the process of securitisation from that of politicisation. Their method includes the traditionalist agenda and dispels the artificial boundary between international political economy and security studies, opening the way for a productive interplay between the two fields. It also illustrates how the theory of regional security arrangements remain relevant in today’s world.


Mark Thirwell, The Return of Geo-economics: Globalisation and National Security, Lowy Institute for International Policy, September 2010

One concept that has previously been used to try to encompass the various connections between international economics, geopolitics and security is the idea of geo-economics. Mark Thirlwell, Director of the Lowy Institute’s International Economy program argues that if one wants to try to understand many of the most important strategic developments facing the world over the next couple of decades, then one is going to need to devote a reasonable amount of time to thinking about what is going on in the international economy. He discusses the tangle of international economics, geopolitics and security, and assesses whether we are heading for a new era of geo-economics.

Theoretical Framework

Not sure what goes in here but will have to find outaˆ¦

The theoretical framework for this research will be based on literature reviews and collation of data from journals, articles, media and the internet. The intention of this paper is to bring together the concepts of economic globalisation, geo-economics and national security and review the contemporary situation in South East Asia in order to provide a better understanding of the status of Malaysia’s national security.


Quite possibly the most significant limitation for this research paper is obtaining up to date and timely material in order to carry out the review. With the current global financial crisis still occurring around us and no end in sight, no publications exist that can comment comprehensively on this topic. The selection of books and articles for the literature review has been chosen due to their relatively recent publication, but will need to be supplemented with less scholarly sources such as more recent wed and news media articles. Additionally, some of the books that have been obtained are not the most recent editions; however various internet resources have been employed where possible to ensure ideas and concepts gained from older editions have not been superseded. In general, more recent sources have been chosen in order to gain the most up to date views and data on the processes of globalisation and security. To further limit resources the significant time constraints preclude seeking material from beyond the sources discussed in the methodology section below.


This research paper will focus mainly on a review and analysis of data collected from the resources available at the time in the libraries of Maktab Turus Angkatan Tentura (MTAT), Malaysian Armed Forces Ministry of Defence, the University of Malaya, Malaysian and New Zealand bookshops. Various journals and articles sourced from on-line databases will also be used as well.

Chapter Outline

This paper is structured into five chapters. Chapter one presents an introduction to the study to be undertaken, includes background information, problems statement, hypothesis and a review of the literature available in compiling this research. The methodology undertaken in order to obtain the required information is also outlined in Chapter one along with the limitations of the research.

Chapter two focuses on the theoretical concepts of economic globalisation and national security. This chapter will define each of these terms and discuss the wide ranging issues with each concept. In doing so it will examine the effects of economic globalisation on national security

Chapter three will assess the impact of the effects of economic globalisation using the Asian Financial Crisis (AFC) and the current Global Financial Crisis (GFC) as test cases.

Chapter four will detail Malaysia’s response to the recent financial crisis, review its national security as affected by economic globalisation and assess any changes in national security that occurred because of these events.

Chapter five concludes the paper by drawing together the concepts of economic globalisation and national security in Malaysia and reviews Malaysia’s national security trend due to these influences.