Choose ONE of the options and then write an interpretive essay [one in which you offer
an argument] that answers the question effectively, creatively, and awesomely. Your essay
must be no longer than four pages [double-spaced, 12-pt font, and one-inch margins], and
you should utilize a broad and balanced array of course materials to your best advantage in supporting your argument. Your essay must be comparative and must compare Malaysia and Singapore. No outside sources are allowed. Use at least 4 sources from articles in class. You may use an additional page for endnotes/references. Remember to bold, underline, or italicize your thesis sentence.
1. Write a comparative essay analyzing the relationship between politics and
leadership. Leadership refers here to the quality [or lack thereof] of control and
guidance in the political realm by specific individuals, whether at the local,
national, or regional levels. Hint: What effects [positive or negative] do the
quality and style of leadership have on political, social, cultural, and/or economic
spheres of action? Please use specific examples to back up your points.
2. Write a comparative essay analyzing the relationship between politics and
identity. Keep in mind here that identity can take on different forms and is not
limited strictly to race/ethnicity. Hint: How does the political system engage with
and how is it influenced by different aspects of identity? Are the results positive?
Negative? And of course, please tell us why you think so…
3. And lastly, write a comparative essay in which you analyze and compare the
nature and timing of democratic transformations in Southeast Asia. For this
question, a transformation refers to a moment [or moments] when democracy was
challenged, tested, or changed. You can look at political parties, civil society,
specific elections or crises, or unexpected moments and trends that put specific
elements of democracy under scrutiny. You don’t have to discuss every single
transformative moment, so choose the ones that will give your essay a focused
Use 4 sources from the lists below.
Darren C. Zook, “Making Space for Islam: Religion, Science, and Politics in Contemporary Malaysia,” Journal of Asian Studies 69/4 : pp. 1143-1166
Ross Tapsell, “The Smartphone as the “Weapon of the Weak: Assessing the Role of Communication Technologies in Malaysia’s Regime Change,” Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs 37/3 : 9-29
Cynthia Gabriel, “Malaysia’s Missing Billions,” Journal of Democracy 29/1 : pp. 69-75
Shane Harris, “The Social Laboratory,” Foreign Policy [July/August 2014]: 64-71
Afif Pasuni, “Negotiating Statist Islam: Fatwa and State Policy in Singapore,” Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs 37/1 : 57-88
Michael D. Barr, “Ordinary Singapore: The Decline of Singapore Exceptionalism,” Journal of Contemporary Asia 46/1 : 1-17