Marco Ferrarese interviewed on Sharpened Word

Marco Ferrarese author of “Banana Punk Rawk Trails: A Euro-Fool’s Metal Punk Journeys in Malaysia, Borneo and Indonesia” has been interviewed in the latest edition of Sharpened Word Literary Matinee talking about his latest book with SIRD, his writing process and what it means to bring danger back into literature. Watch the video below!

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Call for Papers – Misplaced Democracy (2nd Edition)

Misplaced Democracy coverLaunched in 2014, “Misplaced Democracy: Malaysian Politics and People” has made an important contribution to the study of Malaysian politics and society. Published in the wake of the 13th General Election it spoke not only to researchers and scholars of Malaysia but also to activists and others interested to understand the wider dynamics at work during that period.

Bringing together fifteen researchers from around the world it enabled interdisciplinary research in fields as diverse as political economy, urban studies, film studies and international relations, and produced a series of papers which made groundbreaking contributions to their field, on topics such as political gangsterism, piracy, Islamic law, Malaysian literature and FELDA and Malaysian land policy. All papers were also accompanied by the cartoons of Malaysia’s premier free speech artist Zunar.

Read more ›

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Tommy Thomas’s Books Reviewed at

Tommy Thomas’s two latest books Abuse of Power and Anything but the Law received a great review recently on alongside an interview with the author in which he explains why he decided to embark on this project.

Abuse of Power cover Anything But The Law cover

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Poh Soo Kai at the Launch of Living in a Time of Deception


SIRD has recently been pleased to release, in cooperation with Function 8 in Singapore, both an English and Chinese language biography of our friend Poh Soo Kai, a former member of Barisan Socialis and political detainee. Launched on April 2, 2016 at Rumah Gerakbudaya we had over 80 people in attendance and great speeches by Syed Husin Ali, Lee Ban Chen, Sunita Mei-Lin Rajakumar and of course Poh Soo Kai himself. Below is a transcript of Dr. Poh’s speech in full.

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Gender Responsive & Participatory Budgeting


Alongside the release by SIRD of Cecilia Ng’s edited volume “Gender Responsive & Participatory Budgeting: Imperatives for Equitable Public Expenditure” there has been lots of talk in the media on the topic of Gender Responsive Budgeting. It is then a great time to learn more about this attempt to open up democratic spaces and place decision making power back into the hands of the people.

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Second Thoughts reviewed by CriticsRepublic

Illustration by Jun Kit

Illustration by Jun Kit

Over at Senigala has reviewed one of our favourite books of 2015, Second Thoughts: On Malaysia, Globalization, Society and Self. Still available from Gerakbudaya’s online store for the special price of RM24, or available at all good book stores!



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Banana Punk Rawk Trails reviewed in Penang Monthly

In the latest edition of Penang Monthly Marco Ferrarese’s latest book with SIRD, “Banana Punk Rawk Trails: A Euro-Fool’s Metal Punk Journeys in Malaysia, Borneo and Indonesia” is reviewed.



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Incubus of Intervention reviewed in Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs

JFK Johnson

In the latest issue of the Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs our great book on American intervention into Indonesian and West Papuan affairs during the Cold War, “The Incubus of Intervention: Conflicting Indonesia Strategies of John F. Kennedy and Allen Dulles“, gets reviewed!

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Rainforest Hero featured on BFM Radio


Recently on BFM 89.9 Radio, SIRD author Ruedi Sueter was interviewed about the recent launch of Rainforest Hero: The Life and Death of Bruno Manser and talk about the writing of the biography, its launch in Malaysia and the life of Bruno Manser. It’s definitely an interview not to miss!

Your browser does not support native audio, but you can download this MP3 to listen on your device.

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“The Life and Death of Bruno Manser” in Malaysiakini


Over at Malaysiakini there is some great coverage of our recent book launch for two of our latest books Voices from the Rainforest, a reprint of Bruno Manser’s 1996 book on the struggle of the Penan  and Rainforest Hero, Ruedi Suter’s biography of Bruno Manser, now for the first time translated into English.

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Syed Husin Ali: Memoirs of a Political Struggle reviewed in Kajian Malaysia


In the latest volume of Kajian Malaysia Viswanathan Selvaratnam reviews Syed Husin Ali’s memoirs “Syed Husin Ali: Memoirs of a Political Struggle published by SIRD in 2012. 

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Banana Punk Rawk Trails – Online Launch


SIRD is soon to release the hotly anticipated travel diary / music chronicle of Marco Ferarrese, “Banana Punk Rawk Trails: A Euro Fools Metal Punk Journeys in Malaysia, Borneo and Indonesia“. Whilst Marco is perhaps best known to the average Malaysian as the author of the infamous Nazi Goreng, he is known to the average Malaysian punk as the guitarist for Malaysian thrashcore metal band WEOT SKAM which for years he has traveled around Southeast Asia with as the “white elephant in the room” providing him with an outsiders perspective on which to write about the punk scene in the developing world.

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Malaysia’s Mr Clean: Awakening featured in New Mandala

pak lah tidur oriGreg Lopez over at New Mandala has been assessing the legacy of Malaysia PM Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and comparing his reputation as being Malaysia’s Mr Clean with the reality of his time in power. Using Bridget Welsh and James UH Chin’s Awakening: The Abdullah Badawi Years in Malaysia (also published in Malay as Bangkit: Tempoh Pentadbiran Abdullah Badawi di Malaysia) he attempts answer the question of whether or not Pak Lah attained the status of an ethical leader especially in relation to his religious background.

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Greg Poulgrain interviewed on 3CR 855AM in Melbourne

Greg Poulgrain was interviewed recently on Australian radio about his second book with SIRD “The Incubus of Intervention: Conflicting Indonesia Strategies of John F. Kennedy and Allen Dulles“.

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Symposia – Call for Papers

Our first three events in the Symposia series have all been concerned with the current state of Malaysian higher education. In particular they have been concerned with the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education) and the ideas behind the Blueprint and its potential to transform the nature of Higher Education in Malaysia.

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Meredith Weiss reviews Traditionalism and the Ascendancy of the Malay Ruling Class in Colonial Malaya

In the latest edition of Southeast Asian Studies (Vol. 4 No. 2) Meredith Weiss has written a great review of Donna J. Amoroso’s work Traditionalism and the Ascendancy of the Malay Ruling Class in Colonial Malaya.

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Ariffin Omar interviewed in Penang Monthly

In this months edition of Penang Monthly Ariffin Omar has a great discussion with Liani MK about the Second Edition of his famous work on Malaysian politics Bangsa Melayu: Concepts of Democracy and Community, 1945–1950 (which we have recently translated into Malay as Bangsa Melayu: Konsep Bangsa Melayu Dalam Demokrasi dan Komuniti 1945–1950).

In the interview he talks about his hopes for the impact of the work, his academic background, his own relationship with race and nationality and of course what it means to be Malay.

Head over to Penang Monthly for the full interview!

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Gerakbudaya’s Call for Submissions: Young in Malaysia Series

SIRD’s fellow imprint Gerakbudaya which has published such works as Rich Malaysia, Poor Malaysians, Seeds of Dissent and most recently the great Young and Malay: Growing Up in Multicultural Malaysia is looking for submissions to its new Young and Malaysia series which delves into issues of youth, identity and intersectionality.

Contributions can be emailed to

 Call for submissions: Young in Malaysia series

Following our recent publication of Young and Malay, edited by Ooi Kee Beng and Wan Hamidi Hamid, we want to hear from more young writers on their experiences and identities in Malaysia today.

Race and religion are topics that never lose their significance here, but we want to delve deeper.

Identities can be complicated, intersecting, sometimes even contradictory. We want to amplify a wide range of voices and start having the conversations that slip between the cracks.

How are experiences of citizenship affected by racial ambiguity, religious conversion, or membership of a minority group? How do identities transform when moving between the kampong and the city, between East and West Malaysia, or across national borders? And how do marginalized individuals such as transgender people and undocumented migrants navigate society if just stepping outside their door leaves them vulnerable?

We’re looking for essays and creative nonfiction of 2,000-5,000 words from writers connecting their own lived experience to issues facing Malaysia and the wider world. We don’t want to dictate who is and isn’t qualified to contribute. Send us your best work and we’ll fit our series around you – not the other way around.

Deadline: 30 December 2015.

Submissions can be in English or BM and should be sent in the form of a Word document, font Times New Roman 12pt, double spaced.

Please send your submission, and/or any queries, to:,

Panggilan untuk naskah: Muda/i di Malaysia (siri)

Melanjuti penerbitan tajuk buku Young and Malay yang disunting oleh Ooi Kee Beng dan Wan Hamidi Hamid baru-baru ini, kami ingin mendengar lebih banyak lagi pengalaman serta identiti penulis muda di Malaysia.

Bangsa dan agama adalah topik yang tidak pernah kehilangan makna, tetapi kita ingin mengkaji lebih dalam. Identiti boleh menjadi rumit, saling-silang, terkadang juga bercanggah. Kami mahu memberikan ruang untuk pelbagai suara dan memulai perbualan yang tergelincir diantara celah.

Bilakah pengalaman kewarganegaraan terjejas oleh kekaburan kaum, penukaran agama, atau keahlian kumpulan minoriti? Bagaimana identiti berubah apabila bergerak antara kampung dan bandar, antara Timur dan Malaysia Barat, atau merentasi sempadan negara? Apakah cara individu terpinggir seperti transgender dan pendatang gelap bergerak di dalam masyarakat apabila saat mereka melangkah keluar pintu rumah mereka langsung terdedah?

Kami mencari esei kreatif-bukan fiksyen, 2,000-5,000 perkataan dari penulis yang menghubungkan pengalaman hidup mereka hingga kepada isu-isu mereka menghadapi Malaysia dan dunia ini. Kita tidak menetapkan terma untuk karya tulis anda.

Hantarkan sahaja tulisan terbaik anda dan kami akan mencoba untuk menyesuaikan serta memuat karya anda di siri kami.

Tarikh akhir: 30 Disember 2015.

Penyerahan boleh dalam Bahasa Inggeris atau Malaysia dan hendaklah dihantar dalam bentuk dokumen Word, font Times New Roman 12pt, dua baris.

Sila hantar penyerahan dan sebarang pertanyaan anda,kepada:,

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Azmi Sharom interviewed in the Star

Azmi Sharom: saying what needs to be said –

Azmi Sharom, author of one of our latest titles Brave New World was interviewed for recently talking about his role as an academic, his latest book, writing,  politics, his run in with the Sedition Act and of course Flight of the Hamsters.

Azmi talked of his reluctance to go into politics:

“I don’t like the politics in the country, where the personal becomes intertwined with the public. I’m a private person and I don’t want to be exposed in that way.

“But more importantly, I’m not sure I can play by the rules – being an independent candidate, to me, is not a realistic option at this time and in this country. And if I joined a party, I don’t know if I could play nice with the other boys and girls!”

The difference between a public intellectual and an academic:

“When academics step out of their ivory towers and talk or write about things which happen in society, that’s when we get into trouble. But we aren’t here just to teach students, we’re also reaching out to the wider community. When I write for journals, nobody reads ’em. My students are asleep. But once you step outside that, that’s when you encounter problems.”

and the politics behind his choice of football team:

“The Spurs are the best team to support if you’re someone like me in Malaysia, someone who is up against the system. It teaches you patience, to enjoy the small moments of victory you get, it teaches you to be stoic in the face of seemingly endless failure. If you are fighting for democracy and human rights in this country, those are the characteristics you need.”

The full interview is available at now whilst Brave New World is available on our Gerakbudaya website and of course at all good bookshops. Enjoy!

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Comet in Our Sky reviewed in The Star Online

Over at The Star Online Rahmah Ghazali has written a great review of Comet in Our Sky published by SIRD & Pusat Sejarah Rakyat and our launch event held at Rumah Gerakbudaya. As Rahmah argues,

The modern Singapore is a success story with growing economy, high education standards and its status as a global financial capital. 

However, it could have been a bit different as there are hidden stories that are lost in the midst of time. 

Since Singapore pulled out from Malaysia 50 years ago today to become an independent, the dominant figure then was undoubtedly the late Lee Kuan Yew. 

Despite his vast contributions to the republic, one of the criticisms that could be levelled against him is that he was unduly intolerant of differing viewpoints. 

One name that has faded away is Lim Chin Siong, a prominent left-wing leader of Barisan Sosialis in Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s. He died of a heart attack in 1996.  

Lim, who co-founded the People’s Action Party (PAP) in 1954 with Lee, was eliminated from the political scene during the notorious Operation Coldstore, which he was detained without trial twice under the Internal Security Act.

To revisit his struggle, Lim’s story was told in a book titled Comet in Our Sky: Lim Chin Siong in History

As Rahmah notes, for many of the contributors to Comet in Our Sky the importance of remembering Lim Chin Siong lies in exposing the murky history which has contributed to the creation of Singapore’s economic miracle, and to expose the different possibilities that lay open in Singapores development, which could have offered a more socially just and democratic alternative. Thus as Teo Soh Lung argued at the books launch

Today is the most appropriate day to launch this book because Lim Chin Siong is a leader who could have made Singapore an interesting and vibrant country and as economically successful as Singapore is today.

 The full article is available to read here.

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Sophie Lemiere writes on Pekida for New Mandala

Peeling back the layers of Pekida – New Mandala

Over at New Mandala Sophie Lemiere editor of Misplaced Democracy: Malaysian Politics and People  has written a great piece on Pekida which builds upon her essay in Misplaced Democracy “Gangsta and Politics in Malaysia”.

Pekida is she argues a “brand” utilised by a variety of NGO’s, gangs and organisations in order to run cultural and political activities in connection with political parties and particularly UMNO. 

Pekida is perhaps then something like a grey area in which crime and politics meet and connivance militants prosper. Yet as Lemiere argues the relations between crime and politics in Malaysia may be undergoing fundamental changes.

To find out more the full piece can be found here.

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An Alternative Vision for Malaysia in

An Alternative Vision For Malaysia: A socialist point of view –

Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj’s An Alternative Vision for Malaysia gets 8/10 in a book review!

The reviewer notes that the work is an accessible introduction to socialist principles and a useful book for those who want to learn how to apply socialist thinking to major issues such as transport and healthcare, particularly in a Malaysian context.

The reviewer also commends Devaraj’s account of how contemporary capitalism erodes basic working conditions and the standard of living of working people and the poor. Whilst he also notes how the discussion on socialism and culture is key in a country like Malaysia where issues of religion and ethnicity are more than ever political issues.

As the reviewer argues the importance of Dr Devaraj’s work in the end is that it offers an alternative vision to the prevailing narratives of capitalist globalization and neoliberalism which Malaysia as a developing country can still learn from.

As it is, thanks to progressive publishing ventures like SIRD and Gerakbudaya, Malaysians who see the urgent need for an alternative to capitalism, and to counter dominant narratives that present capitalism as the only possible reality, will find much hope and ideas for concrete action in this book.

For the full review click here.

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Greg Poulgrain writes for the Jakarta Post

Our good friend Greg Poulgrain, author of The Incubus of Intervention: Conflicting Indonesia Strategies of John F. Kennedy & Allen Dulles and The Genesis of Konfrontasi: Malaysia, Brunei & Indonesia 1945-1965, has recently appeared in The Jakarta Post writing about the on going negotiations over the Grasberg mine in Papua, Indonesia.

The Grasberg is the same mine which features in The Incubus of Intervention as the object of a colonial struggle to attain its resources by the Dutch, Americans and Indonesians. Yet as Poulgrain argues this was unbeknownst to both Kennedy & Sukarno.

“The main issue is gold. This vast primary deposit was never mentioned in the 1960s during the anti colonial campaign to reclaim Netherlands New Guinea as part of Indonesia. Neither then president Sukarno nor Kennedy was aware of the gold deposit in the territory or how it was influencing political decisions behind the scenes. However, former Dutch foreign minister, Joseph Luns, whom I interviewed July 15 on 1982, when he was NATO secretary-general, was well aware of the gold in New Guinea. He stated that he had proposed a joint-operation with the Americans (in those days, the Rockefeller company was known as Freeport Sulphur) but the answer was negative. American determination to claim sole access to the gold took effect when Soeharto came to power.”

Whilst the Grasberg has always been officially classified as a copper mine with some gold, Poulgrain argues that the real gold content of the mine has always been underplayed for official reasons. But what this has meant in the end is that the people of Papua have never truly benefited from the resources in their state.

You can read the article in full here and buy your copy of The Incubus of Intervention here!

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Just for the Love of It reviewed in Penang Monthly

In the latest edition of Penang Monthly our great book on popular music in Penang Just for the Love of It! gets reviewed by Marco Ferrarese.

Marco, who is soon to publish with us his own book on punk music in Southeast Asia  called Banana Punk Rawk Trails, writes that

It may be hard to believe, but once upon a time, Malaysia had women with silky, permed hair and short skirts shaking to the rhythms of Western rock ‘n’ roll. For this reason, the existence of popular music in the country has often been dismissed by those concerned with “moral decadence” as an inconvenient “mistake of times past”. Thankfully, with the launch of coffee-table book Just for the Love of It, the team at Strategic Information Research Development Centre (SIRD)/Gerakbudaya has come up with a volume that documents that age in all of its pictorial glory, acknowledging the glamorous past of a nation plagued by increasing religious conservatism.

Read more of the full review here!

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Dr. Jeyakumar Devaraj on BFM 89.9

Dr. Jeyakumar Devaraj author of An Alternative Vision for Malaysia has been talking to BFM about his book and his vision for Socialism in Malaysia.

To hear more click here!

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Gaik Cheng Khoo co-author of Eating Together Interviewed

Over at BFM Gaik Cheng Khoo co-author of Eating Together: Food, Space and Identity in Malaysia and Singapore  has been talking about her latest book and the relationship between politics, multiculturalism, identity the search for belonging and of course food.

To hear the full interview head over to BFM for more!

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The Korean Wave featured on BFM 89.9

Mary Ainslie co-editor of one of our latest titles The Korean Wave in Southeast Asia: Consumption and Cultural Production talked to BFM recently about the book, and the spread of Hallyu better known as K-Pop and its spread into Southeast Asia.

This is a must for those interested in Cultural theory, pop culture or anything Korean. Click here to hear more!

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Just for the Love of It featured on BFM

Just for the Love of It: Popular Music in Penang 1930s – 1960s has recently been featured on BFM 89.9. Authors Paul Augustin & James Lockhead talked about the musicians and bands who made up Penang’s rich music scene and the importance of music to the growth of Penang as an international cultural centre.

The book contains great pictures of 1930’s Penang and includes as CD which showcases the music of the era.

To listen to the full interview click here!

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Politics of the Temporary on BFM 89.9

Parthiban Muniandy the author of Politics of the Temporary: An Ethnography of Migrant Life in Urban Malaysia was recently featured on local radio station BFM 89.9 to talk about the experience of migrant workers in Kuala Lumpur who are both integral to the economic and urban growth of city but are also permanently under threat of arrest, deportation and labour precarity.

Hear the full interview here.

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