Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Review Ketiga The Malay Dilemma oleh Ashley Khoo



The Malay Dilemma
Author : Mahathir bin Mohamad
Publisher : Times Books International
Pages : 236

The third challenge for the “32 Books Challenge” was to read a banned book. I faced some difficulty for this challenge as it was different from what I normally read and also because I did not know where to find a banned book. I finally settled on the notorious ‘The Malay Dilemma’ by former Prime Minister Tun Dato’ Seri Dr. Mahathir.

First published in 1970, it was subsequently banned by the government as he criticised and mocked the Malay race in retaliation to losing the 1969 general election. The book was so controversial that Mahathir was almost thrown into jail for it. ‘The Malay Dilemma’ was former Prime Minister Tun Dato’ Seri Dr. Mahathir’s careful analysis of the causes for the 13thMay 1969 riots in Kuala Lumpur as well as his views on why the Malays are economically backward.

He meticulously dissects the multiple failings of his race – their heredity and way of life and argues how these eventually lead to the poor performance of the Malays. He explained that the Malays lacked the initiative to improve themselves, unlike the Chinese and Indians. They liked using the simple way out which was to sell off whatever they could get their hands on and then rely on the government for help. This was simply because it had become a part of their culture and Malays, young or old alike, were taught to wait for help.

Mahathir further expounded that during the British Occupation, most Malays had chosen to take up political power and thus, jobs in the rubber estates and mines were left to the Chinese and Indian migrants. As such, Mahathir explained that the culture of having it easy had been ingrained into the Malay race since the British Occupation and that working hard and being patient had never been a part of them. 

The dilemma, in which the book was named after, was whether Malays should accept help from the government and Mahathir’s stance was that they should in order to improve themselves. In the early 2000s, the dilemma was revisited and replaced with a new one. The new Malay dilemma was whether the Malays should do away with governmental help which they have gotten so used to over the past years.

Thus, in order to succeed, the Malays, in particular, have to learn to be independent so that they are able to stand on their own two feet in times of difficulty and hardship. They have to learn to function without the aid of crutches (governmental help) in order to be a strong and resilient race. Without doing so, they will never progress as a race and will end up failing in everything they do.

 I have to admit that this was not an easy book to read. At times, the sentence structure was so long coupled with the use of certain old-fashioned words made it hard for me to understand what he was trying to convey. However, there are some interesting parts as well. One of it was how he used the Mendelian genetics to explain about inbreeding and the influence of heredity on the Malay race.

Admittedly, it is a tough book to read but all Malaysians should read this book at least once to gain insight into the racial inequality and social problems of the past. Only when they have truly understood what happened are they able to move forward as a nation and prevent further riots from happening.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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