Anne's 1993 PhD thesis, 'Authoritarian Populism in Malaysia', published in 1996 by Macmillan was ahead of its time in its theoretical and political conceptualization of this current world-wide phenomenon. She has updated her thesis as a reminder of this Malaysian variant of authoritarian populism and its consequences. Apart from the toxic effects of populism on ethnic relations, authoritarianism has cost the country billions through financial scandals including the current 1MDB losses. Clearly, good governance and populism cannot coexist.
This book demonstrated how populism in Malaysia is long established and has been sustained ever since the New Economic Policy that came into force in the post-May 13, 1969 period. The Malaysian variant is a populism that is based on a call for ethnic entitlement ('Bumiputraism') and one that has become increasingly Islamic in recent years. Anne's thesis also contains one of the most thorough expositions of the politics surrounding detention without trial and other repressive laws in Malaysia