|About the Book|
This book is a study of the political development of the Malaysian state of Sabah under the administration of Parti Bersatu Rakyat Jelata Sabah (Berjaya - Sabah Peoples United Party), which controlled the state legislature between 1976 and 1985. It attempts to disentangle the three dominant themes within social scientific studies of Sabah: the issues of federalism, the politics of ethnicity, and the political economy of development. The book argues that the emergence of a developmental discourse under the Berjaya regime in Sabah can largely be traced to its failure to reconcile the localized ethnic politics of Sabah with the demands of a strong central state and thus the need to find an alternative strategy of political support and control. While this strategy proved effective when developmental growth was high during the first Berjaya administration (1976-81), the relative collapse of the state economy from 1982 onwards exposed its ethnic predilections and prefigured declining support for the regime, particularly among the non-Muslim bumiputera groups. Despite the consolidation of federal support for Berjaya under the Mahathir administration, the unravelling of the Berjaya project was by this stage unstoppable. In the final analysis, the attempt to create a more compliant state administration under Berjaya came undone precisely because it failed to take into account the localized dimension of politics in Sabah.