Both Malaysia and Thailand were seen to be part of the miracle growth economies of East Asia and fast moving into high income status in the early 1990s. Following the Asian Financial Crisis (AFC) of the mid 1990s, both countries have observed prolonged growth slowdowns. In this paper, we offer a political economy explanation of the growth slowdown in Malaysia and Thailand in their post AFC phases. We argue that the nature of the political settlement in these two countries determined a growth strategy that was predicated on offering deals in the export-oriented manufacturing sector that was accessible to most firms, at the same time, offering closed deals to politically connected firms in the natural resource and services sectors. As the political settlement moved to a vulnerable authoritarian one in both countries, such a dualistic deals strategy became patronage based over time and detrimental to growth.