Essay: Malaysia’s Resilient (but Ambiguous) Partnership with the United States
Driven by converging interests, Malaysia-United States relations have been longstanding, diverse, and broad-based, with strong and close cooperation on trade, investment, sociocultural and security matters, including regional stability, counter-terrorism, and maritime domain awareness. During President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Malaysia in April 2014, this bilateral relationship was elevated to a Comprehensive Partnership.
However, this vibrant bilateral relationship has also been marked by enduring ambiguities, by reason of a confluence of historical, structural, and domestic factors. The dynamism of these ambiguities in addition to the opportunities and challenges faced, which are also prevalent among regional neighbours should be acknowledged and proactively addressed.
One such attempt to better understand and elucidate this important bilateral relationship and the ambiguities it entails was carried out by Assoc. Prof. Cheng-Chwee Kuik (Head, Centre for Asian Studies, Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), UKM) and Dr. Abdul Razak Ahmad (Founding Director of Bait Al-Amanah).
Their essay entitled “Malaysia’s Resilient (but Ambiguous) Partnership with the United States: The Dilemmas of Smaller States in the Indo-Pacific Era” was recently published by The National Bureau of Asian Research in the Roundtable named “Can America Come Back? Prospects for U.S.–Southeast Asia Relations under the Biden Administration”. Longer versions of the essays in the Roundtable will be published as chapters in an edited volume, Southeast Asia Views America: Perceptions, Policies and Prospects, in 2022.
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