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!