Monday, May 03, 2010

A Lack of Confidence

It is quite astonishing that a successful and globalised country like Malaysia should contemplate banning a mainstream account of its recent political developments. It suggests a lack of confidence beneath a glossy, modern exterior. The problem for the government is that there is too big a gap between what it has fed the public in official versions of events and what really happened as related in my book. ... On a practical level, the prolonged examination of the book before release indicates ineptness. Malaysians were buying the book by the hundreds in Singapore and elsewhere, rendering a possible future ban pretty much moot.
says Barry Wain author of Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times in an interview with Deborah Loh at The Nut Graph. The book is now available in the shops.


Jane Sunshine said...

I just bought the Malaysian Maverick at MPH and have been seriously engrossed in it. It is an extremely well researched book and brings out all the drama and mayhem of the Mahatir years.

I am not finished yet but it is a brilliant potrait of a genious politician, full of failings but cunning but also a great visionary. The books great successs is in making clear this study of contradiction.

I laud the move to un-ban the book. Malaysians need to grow up and confront the reality of our politics and this book plays a role in that.

Oxymoron said...

Lack of confidence? Why do you think we have to come up with the slogan "Malaysia Boleh"?

flyingfish said...

Thanks for raising a great point!

Here in Beijing one sometimes sees notices posted on buses: "I am modern, I am confident, I am civilized." The perceived need for such posting can seem an awful lot like protesting too much, but there's no doubt that the posts themselves reflect a substantive change in the way people here think about their country and its place in the world. I've been visiting China on and off for twenty years, and you can see it in the way people hold themselves, the way they talk to one another, the way they talk to visitors. There's no comparison.

So now I'm wondering how soon, and through what mechanisms, China's confidence-imbued relationship with the rest of the world will extend to a healthier relationship with the past. A few years ago I contributed a few translations to a commemorative anthology that turned out to be banned here with a fair amount of publicity. The book was about the 6/4 crackdown. It's still banned.

John Ling said...

It's an interesting that you bring up the issue of Chinese self-esteem.

Here in New Zealand, there is a growing trend of Chinese men scrambling out to acquire NZ passports, sometimes by illicit means.

When interviewed, they explain that it is a matter of 'face' that improve their love life. Chinese women studying in NZ are reluctant to date a man who doesn't hold a foreign passport.

It goes without saying that China could eat NZ for lunch if it wished to. And yet, a NZ passport is apparently a better aphrodisiac than a Chinese one. It baffles my mind, at least.

Anonymous said...

I went to MPH 1Utama to buy the book this morning but had trouble finding it. Finally found it on a small table near the escalator on the first floor. It was NOT prominently displayed anywhere else. Wonder why?

Photo of the book on the small table in my blog:

Amir Muhammad said...

The book is the #1 bestseller in MPH for 2 weeks in a row. So obviously people have managed to find it ;-)

Anonymous said...

Except in MPH 1Utama. It was practically hidden from view.