She sings to the viewer: “I want you” with “I want” on disco repeat. To little surprise in a society defined by conservative social and cultural mores, her notoriety for extravagant self-promotion and penchant for all things pink and lapidary have attracted public mockery and bewilderment.
Vignette 2: On , large vehicles hauled trolleys full of briefcases stuffed with cash worth millions in multiple currencies, jewelry, hundreds of luxury handbags and watches from the homes of the former Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor.
), I conducted face-to-face and telephone interviews with middle-aged Malay-Muslim women over the age of 50 who are active in politics and the corporate world (names have been changed to protect their identity).
In our conversations, I identify attempts by Rosmah and Dato Vida at legitimacy through personal narrative, charisma, and celebrity as a way of understanding forms of informal power that women who possess the trifecta of ethnicity, religion, and super wealth have.
With echoes of the Marcos, the mind-boggling accumulation of status objects in their different residences was met with public shock and outrage.
In the months to follow, Najib Razak and Rosmah Mansor were arrested and charged with multiple counts of breach of trust, money laundering and tax evasion, mostly arising from the 1MDB scandal.
The couple have pled not guilty to the charges and vehemently defended their innocence.
They are embroiled in the world’s biggest financial scandal and subject to global and nation-wide derision typically reserved for disgraced public figures.The emergence of successful female entrepreneurs can be traced to the longer history of Malay entrepreneurship from the 1960s who were predominantly farmers, rural workers, and petty traders in cottage industries (Shamsul 1999).Shamsul AB argues that the Malay middle-class were themselves not only the vanguards of the dakwah movement but demonstrated ‘tendencies of neoliberalism and its internal contradictions’.It is defined by the size of one’s following, it promotes ‘irrational’ devotion, charisma is unstable but a necessary starting ingredient in the ‘objectification’ and ‘routinised’ control of political action.Thus, Weber does not regard charisma as only intrinsic to certain individuals but sees it relationally, in the number of followers, as social exchange and as strategies of ‘routinisation’.I quote him at length here: On the one hand [the Malay middle-class] is highly in favour of the continued expansion of the market and promotion of aggressive individualism, thus making it hostile to tradition.