Don’t let the title of this book fool you! It is not a light breezy travel guide to the Malayan peninsula. It is, however, a must read for anyone seeking a better understanding of the social, political and economic worlds of Malaysia and Singapore.
These two countries shared a history when they were part of the larger colonial entity, British Malaya. When Singapore was “expelled” from Malaysia in 1965, they took divergent paths. The author with his Malaysian roots (Singaporean-son of a Malaysian-born father) has had a deep interest in understanding the differences and the commonalities of these two nations. He was particularly interested in exploring the countries from a bottom up perspective.
So, in 2004, Sudhir and his best friend Sumana spent a month travelling around Malaysia by bicycle. They spoke with a former communist, a warung owner, an entrepreneur, a couple of politicians, a journalist, and a healer among many others. From these people as well as from his work as a senior editor with the Economist Intelligence Unit, Sudhir has pieced together a well rounded discourse on the countries’ past and current socio-political landscapes. While they continue to be very different, both Malaysia and Singapore have experienced enormous growth since their colonial independence and appear to be in the midst of even more significant change.
|Jean de Verteuil|