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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details

Lai, Karen P.Y. & Samers, Michael (2017). Conceptualizing Islamic banking and finance: a comparison of its development and governance in Malaysia and Singapore. The Pacific Review 30(3): 405-424

Author(s) from Durham


In response to the limited engagement with critical social science concerning the governance
of Islamic banking and finance (IBF), this paper compares and conceptualizes the development
and governance of IBF in Malaysia and Singapore. We argue that IBF governance in Malaysia
and Singapore can be distinguished on the basis of ethnic politics, moral suasion, product
demand, product innovation, and the character of state practices. Concerning the latter, we
contend that the political economy of both countries can be characterized as broadly involving
a ‘neoliberal-developmentalism’ (Liow, 2012), but we nuance this by positing a transition in
Malaysia from a ‘semi-developmentalism’ in the 1980s to what we call an ‘Islamic and
internationalising ordoliberalism’ beginning in the 2000s. In turn, the governance of IBF in
Singapore involves a combination of neoliberal developmentalism, which nonetheless also
entails some form of Islamic ordoliberalism.