I, Too, Am Malay – Zaid Ibrahim

8

September 5, 2010 by Michelle

First, perhaps a little introduction to this particular author. I would think that many Malaysians would recognise this name, and indeed, maybe even know of this book. Zaid Ibrahim is a Malaysian politician, arguably one of the more well-known opposition leaders in Malaysia today.

So really, what has that got to do with anything? And with me?

This book is as much about the deteriorating racial and ethnic relations in our multi-racial country, as it is about how his being ethnically Malay defined how he grew up and lived his life so far. Our country is not much like countries in the west, nor is it much like some countries in the east. Like Indonesia, many ethnic groups live together, but unlike Indonesia, the different races were not “assimilated”, but instead, each ethnic group still has today some bits of its own culture and traditions as it had prior to our Independence 53 years ago.

I, Too, Am Malay was first written in the Malay language, but later translated to English to reach a larger market, then later on even translated into Mandarin, as it is also a language widely used in Malaysia. After reading the English edition, I can’t help but wish I had bought the Malay version instead. Some things, when translated, do get lost, especially expressions and anecdotes that were meant to be told in the original language.

I’m passionate about politics in Malaysia, and very interested in the direction my beloved country is taking. Many things are happening right now, and there seems to be an air of change hanging over our heads. How much change exactly is there going to be? No one can tell for sure.

Back to this book. It is interesting in as much that it reveals a little about the more personal side of this politician. He talks about his childhood memories, about how he grew up in a small Malay village, and the path he took in order to get to where he is today.

Though there is also much criticism in this book reserved for the UMNO political party (a party within the current ruling coalition), it mostly depends on which side of the political divide you are on.

In the book, Zaid Ibrahim says that there is nothing wrong if you want to fight for the rights of your own ethnic group, but never up to the point where other races are discriminated against. I tend to agree with him.

I won’t be rating this book. There are some work-related reasons why I decided to purchase this book in the first place. And since I’m on this topic, perhaps I should add here that it’s taking me longer than I expected to really settle down. It’s been almost 5 months since I’ve been back, and already I’m on my second job. So wish me well, everyone!

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8 thoughts on “I, Too, Am Malay – Zaid Ibrahim

  1. JoV says:

    Thank you for introducing this book to me! Ashamed to say I can’t recall Zaid’s name. I’ll echo your thoughts on this. I have heard so much changes are being introduced but not sure if it’s for the good of the country.

    I wish you luck and the very best in your career!

    • Michelle says:

      Well, you’ve migrated from Malaysia for some time now, haven’t you? So it wouldn’t come as too big a surprise that you don’t recall his name. He only became quite popular after the 2008 general elections.

      Thanks for the wishes!

  2. chasing bawa says:

    I think it makes things more interesting, but perhaps more difficult, when you have several ethnic groups in a country. Hopefully things will progress peacefully in Malaysia. They say it takes a minimum of 6 months to settle in a new place or a new job. So good luck!

    • Michelle says:

      Yes, it is interesting. There are so many good things about multi-ethnicity that I can talk about, but like you said, it does make things a little difficult and complicated at times. We’re not exactly a country that’s “not peaceful”, but there are things that could be better.

      I’m having fun while settling in back to Malaysia, so thanks. =)

  3. mee says:

    Second job! Hope you’re adjusting better each day!
    Malaysia and Indonesia seem to have some conflicts recently (though I don’t follow much at all. and then again they always have some conflicts of some sort, just like siblings). Do you know Upin Ipin? I saw that when I was in Indonesia. What a cute show ;)

    • Michelle says:

      Not only is it a second job, it’s something completely different and unrelated to my first! Big changes! And I’ve just moved too!

      Our countries do seem to have regular spats, some serious, some less so. But then again, as you’ve pointed out, it’s been happening for as long as I can remember! And I definitely know Upin Ipin! They are quite cute. =)

  4. Mark David says:

    I wish you the best Michelle :)

    In the Philippines, there’s also a lot of ethnic diversity. But somehow, I’ve always felt that Filipinos are one people. I mean, we fight each other all the time, sure. But somehow it still seems that ethnicity has rarely been an issue with us. It’s like how Chinese immigrants in the States tend to think of themselves as still Chinese, while the Filipino Chinese in general think of themselves as Filipinos. Many of the Filipino upper class families also have Spanish backgrounds, but when they talk about pride it’s often centered on their Filipino heritage.

    • Michelle says:

      I think it’s great that Filipino Chinese generally think of themselves as Filipinos. In the end, I feel that is what’s important for national unity, because although there will be squabbles and disagreements and fights, the people are still united under one national identity.

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