Nov 2016 - Peninsula

Peninsula: A Story of Malaysia by Rehman Rashid feels like a sequel to A Malaysian Journey.  Rehman released A Malaysian Journey in 1993, which reached a pinnacle of success surprising even the writer.  It was a combination of personal memoir and travelogue as he visited each of the Malaysian states following an extended period away. 


Peninsula, published in 2016, continues the personal memoir format interposed with segments on events in Malaysia since Independence (1957).  The focus is on the generational changes, helping us to understand how Malaysia got to where it is today. Chapters titled ‘Boomiputras’, ‘Swarnabumi’ and ‘DAPenang’ offer insights into Malaysia’s major ethnic groups, their leaders and their political place in the Malaysian mosaic. He opens with the coming to power of Abdullah Badawi (Pak Lah) in 2003, looks at policies formulated under Mahathir’s regime and ends by touching on the 1MDB scandal during Najib’s tenure.  In between he takes us back and forth through 250 years of history and events providing background information to enrich our understanding of the fabric of Malaysian life.



Our group was just captivated by the book.  Many of us have long viewed A Malaysian Journey as a must-read suggestion for new comers to Malaysia and now there is the added bonus of Peninsula. Interestingly, many of us long-term residents found it informative as well. His stories are well fleshed out with details like names, dates and locations, making them real to the reader.  Even if you don’t read it for the content let yourself be carried along by Rehman’s amazing use of language.  Margo Rosemberg hit the nail on the head when she said, “His writing just sparkles!”  Another book group member felt his writing sings to us, rather than just speaking to us. This book by one of Malaysia’s best writers is to be savoured.  We waited 23 years for this sequel and it was certainly well worth the wait.  Dare we hope for a sequel to Peninsula?


Leslie Muri

Book Group 1 – November 2016