The Arab Spring Through Malaysian Youth ‘Eyes’: Knowledge, Perceptions and Influences

Mohd Irwan Syazli Saidin


This paper examines the attitude of Malaysian youth towards the ‘Arab Spring’ events in the Middle East and North Africa. In particular, it explores the knowledge and perceptions of a selected young generation in Malaysia towards the ‘Arab Spring’ as well as considering how the events influence their attitudes towards regime change, democracy and political stability. The major involvement of Malaysian youth in a series of mass protests (“BERSIH”) against the ruling government, were perceived by numerous local and foreign journalists as an attempt to create a “Malaysian Spring”. However, there have been strong opinions voiced by the Malaysian authorities suggesting that there was no basis for presuming an ‘Arab Spring’ impact in the context of the Malaysian experience. This raises the question of the relationship between the ‘Arab Spring’ and Malaysian youth. In so doing, both quantitative and qualitative methods were applied through a questionnaire based-survey involving 607 respondents as well as 10 in-depth interviews with selected Malaysian youth leaders. The outcome of this research shows that a number of youth believing that they were inspired by the acts of mass street protests during the ‘Arab Spring’. However, the fear of political instability which is currently evident in the post-Arab Spring led to some respondents favouring political stability rather than regime change. Overall, this empirical research found that the majority of Malaysian youth are supportive of a free and democratic election as a relevant medium for political change, rather than overthrowing the current regime via civil disobedience.

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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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