Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rock Star Professor

My background was in philosophy and I’m a philosopher by training. Much later I moved to political theory and began to work on the history of politics in Malaysia, pertaining to the history of the respective political parties. ... That was when I realised that even political parties distorted their own histories and some party members did not even know their own history. I was shocked when I interviewed a leader of a party who didn’t know the date of its foundation! And that’s when I realised that there were facets of Malaysia’s past that had been kept from most of us.
Farish "Rocky Star Professor" Noor is profiled by Martin Vengadesan in today's Starmag, and talks about his own colourful family history (Jawi-Peranakan, Indian and Arab blood) and parents who worked in broadcasting; his academic background (philiospher and political -theorist) ; and great populariser of Malaysian history via his lecture series at Central Market Annexxe. (The talks are collected in What Your History Teacher Didn't Tell You.)

And one piece of very good news for us -  this already prolific author is planning to retire in three years time and turn to fiction.

Perhaps the best quote about Farish comes from Silverfish's Raman, who is one of his publishers :  
If I have to describe him in one word I would use ‘intense’. He’s an avowed socialist and always on the side of the downtrodden and the victimised, and I can never find fault with his sense of fair play and his sense of humour. ... He is also indefatigable! When I was editing Quran and Cricket, I thought to myself that this guy is crazy. I was amazed at the lengths he went to get the stories, often putting his life (not to mention his sanity) in danger. I was watching a BBC news item on Patani once while editing the book, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, how lame is that?’ Compared to Farish’s reporting, most of the current news media have no clue what is going on. I realise that this is because most reporters cannot (and are not willing) to get down to the ground like him. Can you imagine Abu Bakar Bashir giving such an interview to a Western journalist?

1 comment:

Greenbottle said...

the only malaysian book i bought last year was "quran and cricket" and i went straight to the chapter about my home state -kelantan- and i found quite a few errors on kelantanese idioms and spelling that make me wonder who did the i know. a kelantanese should be asked to proof this part. i did not read the book further...because i guess if it gets it wrong here it can get wrong elsewhere too...but farish is one intersting fish...sometimes i like his views and often i don't...