Merdeka For The Mind: Essays on Malaysian Struggles in the 21st Century

Author: Ooi Kee Beng
Format: Paperback 137 PP.
Subject: Politics
ISBN: 9789670630854
Publisher: SIRD
Published: 2015
Price: RM28.00
This selection of articles written over the last three years by Ooi Kee Beng, and which were published in The Edge Malaysia, The Edge Review and in Penang Monthly, is a succinct expression, not only of trends that the region and the world are experiencing, but more specifically of stubborn issues immediately affecting Malaysia.
In essence, Malaysia has reached a crossroads. The bankruptcy of racialist politics maintained for too long by race-based parties through racially-justified policies has become too obvious to deny. On the one hand, this has generated strong opposition from the depths of Malaysian society—from Malaysians who had customarily been evasive of conflicts, who now sense that serious political transformation can be postponed only at great peril to the country’s inter-ethnic cohesion and to its economy. And on the other hand, as a direct response to this challenge to the old order, we witness a disheartening rise in incoherent racism and Islamist zealotry.
But Malaysia’s problems are not all that unique. What is needed is for Malaysia to discard its sense of exceptionalism and fatalism, if the country is to fulfil the promise that the attainment of Merdeka once held.
About the author
Ooi Kee Beng is the Deputy Director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Singapore. He is editor of Trends in Southeast Asia (ISEAS); and also founder-editor of Penang Monthly, ISEAS Monitor, and ISEAS Perspective.
He writes extensively on Malaysian politics and history, and on Asian nation building. His The Reluctant Politician – Tun Dr Ismail and His Time (2006) won the “Award of Excellence for Best Writing Published in Book Form on Any Aspect of Asia (Non-Fiction)” at the Asian Publishing Convention Awards 2008, while Continent, Coast, Ocean: Dynamics of Regionalism in Eastern Asia (co-edited with Ding Choo Ming), was named “Top Academic Work” in 2008 by the ASEAN Book Publishers Association (ABPA).
His noted studies of Singapore include In Lieu of Ideology: An Intellectual Biography of Goh Keng Swee (2010).
Other major works include The Eurasian Core and Its Edges – Dialogues with Wang Gungwu on the History of the World (2015); Lim Kit Siang – Defying the Odds (2015); Young and Malay: Growing Up in Multicultural Malaysia (2015); Malaya’s First Year at the United Nations (2009); March 8: Eclipsing May 13 (2008); and Lost in Transition: Malaysia Under Abdullah (2008). 
Posted in Politics, Uncategorized

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!

Posted in Blog, Uncategorized

The New Economic Policy in Malaysia: Affirmative Action, Ethnic Inequalities and Social Justice

Editors: Terrence Gomez & Johan Saravanamuttu
Format: Paperback 394 pp.
Subject: Economics, Politics
ISBN: 9789971696696
Publisher: SIRD & NUS press
Published: 2012
Price: RM50

For more than 40 years, the New Economic Policy and its successor programs have shaped Malaysia’s socioeconomic development and the allocation of political power. The original policy sought to eradicate poverty and achieve economic parity among the country’s various ethnic communities. However, it was based on an apparent paradox – the use of ethnic preference to promote national unity. The policy’s core tenet was affirmative action on behalf of the Bumiputera community.

Drawing on a wealth of statistical and documentary evidence, this major new book provides a comprehensive and rigorous assessment of the NEP. The contributors show that there have been some positive outcomes, among them a considerable reduction of poverty, greater interethnic equity parity and the emergence of a resourceful Bumiputera middle class. But these partial successes have to be weighed against persistent complaints associated with increasing intraethnic Bumiputera income disparities; the emergence of a small, politically powerful and disproportionately wealthy Bumiputera elite; a serious brain drain; and weak human capital. As a result, divisive debates about group rights, ethnic identity and an elusive national unity dominate Malaysia’s policy discourse. The New Economic Policy in Malaysia offers a timely and fresh perspective, suggesting that the long-term implementation of racially-targeted policies reinforces stereotypical ethnic identities and hinders the creation of a more inclusive society.


“…this volume still stands out for bringing together a number of academics renowned for their research on Malaysia. Its composition also constitutes a multi-disciplinary approach and multi-layered perspective on the NEP that is otherwise hard to find, backed by a considerable amount of qualitative and quantitative data that is a valuable resource in itself and a sound point of departure for further research.” – Frederik Holst

“Neatly organised into five parts, and backed by a wealth of statistical data and qualitative evidence, the chapters are well-written and well-argued throughout. As such, it is hard to demur from the general conclusion that race-based affirmative action has outstayed its welcome. This book deserves to be required reading for all Malaysian policymakers.” – Nicholas J. White

Posted in Economics, Politics, Uncategorized