The Strategic Information and Research Development Centre (SIRD) was founded in 2000 by Chong Ton Sin and friends. Over the past 15 years it has published a diverse range of books, focusing in particular on academic books with a critical perspective and progressive message, and covering all disciplines within the social sciences and humanities.
SIRD titles situate Malaysia in the wider world – from Greg Poulgrain’s Genesis of Konfrontasi, which shines new light on the 1963-1966 period of confrontation between Malaysia and Indonesia, to Zawawi Ibrahim’s edited volume Social Science and Knowledge in a Globalising World, a groundbreaking collection with a Malaysian perspective.
SIRD’s memoirs and biographies fill crucial gaps in local history – in particular, first-hand accounts from Malayan independence fighters, communist revolutionaries and political prisoners, which others did not dare to publish. Books by and about notable figures such as Shamsiah Fakeh, Abdullah C.D., M.K. Rajakumar and Fong Chong Pik ensure that their contributions to modern-day Malaysia are not forgotten. SIRD is also the proud republisher of Where Monsoons Meet, a remarkable and highly engaging people’s history of Malaya which was produced by students in the 1970s.
Other notable titles include bestsellers Awakening: The Abdullah Badawi Years in Malaysia, which explains how Pak Lah changed the country’s political landscape, and Once A Jolly Hangman, which exposed disturbing truths about Singapore’s use of the death penalty. The launch of the latter in Singapore was swiftly followed by the author’s arrest and trial, which he detailed in the updated and revised second edition.
With topics ranging from economics to ecology, pop culture to pantun, SIRD is increasingly being recognised as a premier non-university book publisher in Malaysia, perhaps even surpassing university publishers. More recently, it is publishing in Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese. Malaysia has long been the focus of its publications, but SIRD is beginning to spread its wings to publish beyond its borders, having already co-published titles with counterparts in Japan, Thailand and Singapore. In the longer term, its ambition is to become an Asian publisher of some standing.
Publication, however, is not the only activity SIRD is engaged in. Since SIRD’s beginnings, it has provided local and international scholars with the opportunity to present their research to local audiences. It provides the space, the place and the platform to organise seminars, forums, workshops and discussions in a freer atmosphere. SIRD enables individuals to engage and exchange views, to voice opinions and to debate their positions in an open and rational way.
SIRD’s book launches are often lively and well attended events, such as the launch of the 2009 volume Multiethnic Malaysia : Past, Present and Future, copublished with MiDAS@UCSI, and the Singapore launches of The Fajar Generation, The May 13 Generation and The 1963 Operation Coldstore. Launches of memoirs and biographies by and about notable individuals, such as Syed Husin Ali, M.K. Rajakumar and P.G. Lim, draw considerable crowds, while one very moving event was the joint launch of Failed Nation? and Social Roots of the Malay Left. The author, Rustam A. Sani, passed away a few days prior, and his memory was honoured by 500 attendees. SIRD organises a yearly nasi lemak gathering for International Women’s Day, bringing together activists and allies to discuss issues facing women in Malaysia today. Current affairs, particularly political issues, are discussed on a regular basis at Rumah Gerakbudaya as well as at external venues. Many have testified to the usefulness of these events, giving SIRD its raison d’être. It will always be a place available to anyone who seeks free exchanges.
From its modest beginnings, SIRD has succeeded in building strong foundations and networks. SIRD, as of 2015, is moving into a new phase of its development, in which researchers will find a place to carry out the research they want, free from interference. In Malaysia, and Southeast Asia more broadly, independent research centres – unaffiliated to universities, unlinked to government – are rare to non-existent. SIRD hopes to provide an autonomous space for an in-house research programme including evidence-based research and policy as well as applied research.
In addition to conducting research that shines a light on social issues from diverse perspectives, SIRD will provide training and mentorship to the young who are seeking to expand their learning beyond the conventional and mainstream.
To get this research agenda off the ground, SIRD seeks financial support from donors, although our independence cannot be compromised by funding that comes with political strings attached.
Beginning with small projects, we will produce research of a consistently high standard, establishing SIRD as a leading player in the local, regional and global context. We look forward to forging links, exchanging ideas, cooperating and co-publishing with similar institutes across Southeast Asia and worldwide.
If you would like to get involved with this exciting new initiative, we would be delighted to hear from you.
GB Gerakbudaya Enterprise Sdn.Bhd,
2, Jalan Bukit 11/2, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
Tel: +(60)3-7957 8342
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