In a nutshell
If not for Shanon Shah who came up with this idea and Jacqueline Ann Surin who loved it and for everyone else at The Nut Graph, Found in Malaysia wouldn’t be born. So hats off to this group of very passionate journalists for this great piece of work.
Found in Malaysia is a compilation of 50 meticulously selected interviews from the news and analysis website, The Nut Graph, each interviewee sharing their opinions and views on what it means to be a pendatang, the issues they struggle with the most as a Malaysian, and how much they think Malaysia has changed throughout the years. Since 8 January 2009, The Nut Graph team has accumulated almost 80 interviews that include well-known Malaysian public figures, including politicians, corporate figures, social activists, artists and entertainers. Of 80 interviews, publisher ZI Publications chose 50 to be featured in this book.
What I liked
There are just so, so many interviews that I liked in this compilation, I just don’t know which ones I’d like to highlight. These stories are such eye openers. Some are candid and inspiring, some share different views of understanding a culture, some highlighting issues of gender, sexual and our political diversity.
One very common topic that touched me the most is the answers given by most of them when asked about our differences in race and religion.
One of the interviews which I liked was Ramli Ibrahim’s. I like this part where he said, ‘And I think the Malays have always been in between the entrepreneurial races, you know with the Chinese on one side and so on. The latter came from continents where life is more competitive and difficult. That is why indentured labourers came because the Malays were not interested, “Why should we?” And it was the bloody British who wanted to plant this and dig that [up] for their own consumption. So it’s difficult now to make a shift to being tough, because it is against the grain. But it can be done.’
We’re all born and brought up differently, each with our own strengths and weaknesses, no matter our race or religion. That’s what makes us unique. And I think we should learn to accept and respect our differences instead of feeling inferior because of it. Plus, why keep harping on our differences? We’re all Malaysians aren’t we? Malaysians who ‘don’t have one particular root. We are Indian, Chinese, Arab, Javanese, Bugis, English, we are a bit of everything. We’re not like Persians who go back 6,000 years, we’re not like the Greeks. So it’s very difficult to place us as a nation, as a people,’ said Bernice Chauly, a poet, photgrapher, filmmaker and writer.
Reading these interviews made me realise, we Malaysians, have a myriad of experiences to share due to our differences – we are one rich and diverse society, which we could and should use to our advantage. As Jerome Kugan, the media manager for Annexe Gallery at Central Market, aptly said it, ‘In a way, we’re kind of lucky to have so much to draw upon. All these stories we have as a people, it’s a gold mine. I just hope that religious fervour, neofeudalist intrigues and economic barbarism don’t tear it apart before it has a chance.’
Human rights lawyer and activist Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, who recently won the Bindmans Law and Campaigning award for his work on human rights, said this, ‘The kind of society we have, strictly speaking, should be really one of the model societies in the world. Where else can you find a society that, although we have all been brought together, we have not all melted into each other? We still have our heritage, we still have our culture.’
Despite our differences in views and opinions, we share one thing in common – the vision of the ideal Malaysia – one that is peaceful, united and able to embrace diversity. Like most Malaysians interviewed here, I long for the ideal Malaysia…
I hope these interviews would inspire you as much as they’ve inspired me.
Happy Merdeka to all.
Thank you ZI Publications for this book. Love the design, the way you compiled the interviews, and definitely the paper material. Publishing a book is not an easy task, what more one that is of good quality, and I think you guys have done a marvelous job.
My verdict? Perfect 5. This would also make a good Merdeka read.