While France and Malaysia may seem quite different, we do share at least one similarity, the role of the state of the economy. Anglo-American capitalism and economics, which are what most Malaysians are familiar with (given historical and more recent educational ties with English speaking countries), would generally advocate less government intervention. The State Owned Enterprise chapter in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement for example reflects this general antipathy. Malaysia and other countries had to negotiate hard for the recognition of the right of governments, as part of their developmental obligations, to own businesses and be a participant in the market economy.
Inequality and its corollary, the lack of growth of real wages compared to profits, is a matter of global concern. In this conference, scholars from France and Malaysia will analyse these issues as well as the subject of the treatment of workers. The Khazanah Research Institute will also be presenting its latest publication, on social-mobility in Malaysia.
Migrant workers are also a feature of modern economies. Europe is having to deal with both migrant workers and refugees while Malaysia has had a relatively high number of migrant workers for many years. This conference will have a socio-anthropologist, an expert in public law, and an economist from the World Bank sharing their research on this.
The keynote speakers, Professor Sébastien Lechevalier (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS, Paris)), Professor Pascal Petit (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)), and Professor Jomo Kwame Sundaram (Visiting Senior Fellow, Khazanah Research Institute, and Tun Hussein Onn Chair in International Studies, ISIS) are all esteemed scholars in their field and will set the intellectual foundation of this conference on the first day.
A panel session with panellists from France and Malaysia will discuss the big issue: how does one interpret and understand the Malaysian form of capitalism, with its colonial past, an active state owned enterprise sector, and a developed Islamic finance system? The ensuing debate should prove to be a lively one. Further, there will be a presentation by Dr Elsa Lafaye de Micheaux on her forthcoming book, “The Development of Malaysian Capitalism”.
After the formal close of the conference on Tuesday, there will be an institutional building workshop which aims to connect French and Malaysian researchers. And, as an antidote to one and a half days of capitalism, Jean-Luc Godard’s “Film Socialisme” will be screened. This will be its Malaysian premiere.