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Young and Malay: Growing Up in Multicultural Malaysia

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Individual experiences, though strongly influenced by collective identities, are in essence unique ones. But in Malaysia, where ethnic identity is overpoweringly applied to constrict popular thought and rationalise government policies, the uniqueness of individuals is ignored and devalued – even by the individuals themselves. Paradoxically, the community that has suffered t Individual experiences, though strongly influenced by collective identities, are in essence unique ones. But in Malaysia, where ethnic identity is overpoweringly applied to constrict popular thought and rationalise government policies, the uniqueness of individuals is ignored and devalued – even by the individuals themselves. Paradoxically, the community that has suffered the political ascription of group identity most acutely and most inescapably is the ascribed majority group, the Malays. In this collection of essays edited by Ooi Kee Beng and Wan Hamidi Hamid, nine young writers – Haris Zuan, Wan Hamidi Hamid, Zairil Khir Johari, Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, Altaf Deviyati, Izmil Amri, Syukri Shairi, Raja Ahmad Iskandar and Edry Faizal Eddy Yusof – share their individual memories about growing up in Malaysia, and in some cases debate the racial politics in which they – and all Malaysians – seem inextricably caught. "Though Malays in Malaysia are constitutionally bound to be Muslims, many of the writers do not deny that among their forebears are Chinese, Indians and Europeans who practised Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and what have you. As I read their essays, I feel that they write for me as well. My origins are varied too for I have always prided myself on having Indian, Spanish and Acehnese forebears." —Ariffin Omar, Malaysian Senator


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Individual experiences, though strongly influenced by collective identities, are in essence unique ones. But in Malaysia, where ethnic identity is overpoweringly applied to constrict popular thought and rationalise government policies, the uniqueness of individuals is ignored and devalued – even by the individuals themselves. Paradoxically, the community that has suffered t Individual experiences, though strongly influenced by collective identities, are in essence unique ones. But in Malaysia, where ethnic identity is overpoweringly applied to constrict popular thought and rationalise government policies, the uniqueness of individuals is ignored and devalued – even by the individuals themselves. Paradoxically, the community that has suffered the political ascription of group identity most acutely and most inescapably is the ascribed majority group, the Malays. In this collection of essays edited by Ooi Kee Beng and Wan Hamidi Hamid, nine young writers – Haris Zuan, Wan Hamidi Hamid, Zairil Khir Johari, Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, Altaf Deviyati, Izmil Amri, Syukri Shairi, Raja Ahmad Iskandar and Edry Faizal Eddy Yusof – share their individual memories about growing up in Malaysia, and in some cases debate the racial politics in which they – and all Malaysians – seem inextricably caught. "Though Malays in Malaysia are constitutionally bound to be Muslims, many of the writers do not deny that among their forebears are Chinese, Indians and Europeans who practised Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and what have you. As I read their essays, I feel that they write for me as well. My origins are varied too for I have always prided myself on having Indian, Spanish and Acehnese forebears." —Ariffin Omar, Malaysian Senator

30 review for Young and Malay: Growing Up in Multicultural Malaysia

  1. 5 out of 5

    Leanne

    I was not sure what I was expecting when I wanted to read this book. There was definitely the expectation to know how exactly is it like to be Malay in Malaysia. I did feel curious and excited as well as I could recognise some of the names as politicians such as Dyana Sofya and Zairil Khir Johari. And I suppose it would be interesting to hear from this people on how is it really like to grow up as a Malay as they are all different people and would have different experiences. But I was still taken I was not sure what I was expecting when I wanted to read this book. There was definitely the expectation to know how exactly is it like to be Malay in Malaysia. I did feel curious and excited as well as I could recognise some of the names as politicians such as Dyana Sofya and Zairil Khir Johari. And I suppose it would be interesting to hear from this people on how is it really like to grow up as a Malay as they are all different people and would have different experiences. But I was still taken aback by many if not all the essays. Some were really written as essays which is easy enough to read. Some were like a dissertation thesis which is difficult to grasp sometimes. Some were like ramblings, which if you take it into context how school essays can be rambly, are very much like essays haha. And some were written more story-like than others that sometimes I forget that I'm not reading a short story. But really they are all stories. Growing up Malaysian and especially living through this year, I have come to understand that the default is being Malay = being Muslim. And maybe that was what I was looking for in this book is how these people live like that or maybe to debunk things of the Muslim faith with all the absurd things that turn up in our news everyday. Really I'm not sure what is it exactly I was looking for except for a glimpse to understand the majority better. But this collection was so diverse that in the end besides affirming that while Malays are Muslim, there are other things in life that affect how they grow up to be who they are today. Religion is just one small element of who they are and it's because ultimately they are people. And we all know that everyone is different due to their environment, relationships, and circumstances. And I guess in the end, it matters not what you are really but what you make out of your life. Also never in my life have I seen a book, in this case The Malay Dilemma, been so heavily and constantly referenced in more than one essay haha. I didn't know that book played a major part in shaping somewhat the Malay community which just goes to show that words are powerful and dangerous. I do however like to think that these authors are not going to just sit back and let someone dictate who they are but set out to live their life on who they strive to be. PS: A huge thank you to Gerakbudaya for the book in the mail which made my day and stopped me from continue to stare longingly at it every time I pass it at various bookshops

  2. 5 out of 5

    Fariza

    Secara peribadi, membaca coretan setiap penulis, saya memahami tujuan terbitnya buku ini. Walaubagaimanapun, jika ingin menyatakan inilah kehidupan seorang anak muda Melayu di Malaysia, kisah-kisah yang ditampilkan terlalu peribadi dan sebenarnya tidaklah semua anak Melayu mempunyai kehidupan seperti mereka. Mungkin inilah tujuan penerbitannya, kisah peribadi begini mungkin lebih dekat dengan pembaca. Dengan hanya menampilkan dua orang penulis wanita daripada sembilan orang penulis lelaki, ianya Secara peribadi, membaca coretan setiap penulis, saya memahami tujuan terbitnya buku ini. Walaubagaimanapun, jika ingin menyatakan inilah kehidupan seorang anak muda Melayu di Malaysia, kisah-kisah yang ditampilkan terlalu peribadi dan sebenarnya tidaklah semua anak Melayu mempunyai kehidupan seperti mereka. Mungkin inilah tujuan penerbitannya, kisah peribadi begini mungkin lebih dekat dengan pembaca. Dengan hanya menampilkan dua orang penulis wanita daripada sembilan orang penulis lelaki, ianya langsung mengecewakan kerana ianya malah tidak menggambarkan populasi Malaysia. Abaikan rungutan saya. Buku ini tetap menarik untuk diteliti kerana penulisan Zairil Khir Johari yang terus menerus mengkritik idea 'The Malays Dilemma' Dr Mahathir di dalam penulisannya. Selain itu, saya juga berasa dekat dengan pengalaman Haris Zuan yang membaca pelbagai karya yang hampir kesemua karya yang disebut beliau di dalam penulisannya juga turut menjadi bahan bacaan zaman sekolah saya. Salah seorang penulis malah mengaitkan dengan proses memakan sireh sebagai lambang kehidupan rakyat Malaysia. Entahlah. Keseluruhanya, saya memuji usaha penulisan ini.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    Generally, I enjoyed half of the articles because it was written in the most layman way with minimal political terms that ooze headache to my head. But I do feel that the last story was left hanging, somehow. Recommended to those who would like to understand the mindset and perceptions of a Malay living and growing up in a multicultural Malaysia. Read with an open heart and mind.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Fadillah

    I felt relatable reading this book. As the title fits myself, I am young and belong to Malay race. If you were to judge based on the cover, this book can be considered a light reading. For me, it is a light reading but packed with information and facts. From the Article 153 which guarantees Malay Supremacy to the origin of Malay race, it is shared by 9 young writers in their own words, experiences and stories. I, myself was born in Mahathir Era. I looked up to him and he was a strong influence i I felt relatable reading this book. As the title fits myself, I am young and belong to Malay race. If you were to judge based on the cover, this book can be considered a light reading. For me, it is a light reading but packed with information and facts. From the Article 153 which guarantees Malay Supremacy to the origin of Malay race, it is shared by 9 young writers in their own words, experiences and stories. I, myself was born in Mahathir Era. I looked up to him and he was a strong influence in my life. I read the Malay dilemma and I was impressed by it. Maybe my favoritism towards him blinded me from understanding the fallacy of his arguments especially the justification why there is a special treatments towards my race in the book. It was the year of 2012 which I begin my political awakening. I am utterly disappointed with the current administration and I won't blatantly received all the lies told by them. I'm starting to see the pattern of how racism is being incited by those politicians so that society keeps being divided. Manipulation over religion and race sentiment is the usual plaything in the political scene here. Some may say this book is a bit childish, that some authors shared too much of their childhood story. The upbringing of yourself is how you discover your identity, at least that's how I see it. Are we Malaysian or are we Malay first? which one comes first? Or is it Muslim first? This might seem as simple question but it's not. My parents would want me to say that I am muslim first. I would say I'm malaysian first. However, my answer will be frowned on as they might expect me to say I am Malay first. This is simply thought provoking. All of the 9 writers offered their insight on being a young Malay in Malaysia. 5 stars without a doubt from me and trust me, it's worth reading it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Syahir Hakim

    This is very obviously a political book written to advance political agenda. If you were looking for critical analysis on racial politics and racial relations in Malaysia, you won't find it in this book. The experiences related to by the authors are uniquely individual. Precisely because of that, it is naive to attempt to inflate those experiences into an all-encompassing framework that describes the aspirations and fears prevalent in the Malay society. The authors were routinely critical of Maha This is very obviously a political book written to advance political agenda. If you were looking for critical analysis on racial politics and racial relations in Malaysia, you won't find it in this book. The experiences related to by the authors are uniquely individual. Precisely because of that, it is naive to attempt to inflate those experiences into an all-encompassing framework that describes the aspirations and fears prevalent in the Malay society. The authors were routinely critical of Mahathir for making assumptions and conclusions in The Malay Dilemma based on personal experiences and observations, unsubstantiated by careful examination and analysis of the matter at hand. Yet in this book they do exactly that, presenting what in the end amounts to nothing more than opinions as the gospel truth. Little effort was made to substantiate the conclusions posited in this book. Having said that, I did enjoy reading most of the essays, and I do share many of the sentiments expressed in the book. Merit should be given for recognising that we have a problem with racial relations in the country, that there are tremendous anxiety and mistrust between the different ethnicities, mostly borne out of non-interaction between the races. We fear what we don't understand, and hopefully by reconigsing that it will be sufficient to motivate many individuals to review the biased and distorted lens with which we've viewed the other races all this while.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Hazrul Azhar Jamari

    Young and Malay is a collection of mostly anecdotal stories of young Malays (no surprise there) recounting their experiences growing up in Malaysia. I picked up this book hoping to get insights on similarities between the Malaysian and Singaporean experience. I would read this book if you're interested to learn about how Mahathir-era policies affected young Malays and how it shaped their worldview. However, as most of the authors are affiliated to the DAP, this book may have some bias. But if yo Young and Malay is a collection of mostly anecdotal stories of young Malays (no surprise there) recounting their experiences growing up in Malaysia. I picked up this book hoping to get insights on similarities between the Malaysian and Singaporean experience. I would read this book if you're interested to learn about how Mahathir-era policies affected young Malays and how it shaped their worldview. However, as most of the authors are affiliated to the DAP, this book may have some bias. But if you've spent your time growing up listening to UMNO supporting Malays, then this should balance out your opinions of the Malays in Malaysia and also the on the ground realities they grew up with.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Farhira Farudin

    When I went to MPH, I was torn between this book and Love in Penang by FixiNovo. I made the decision to stick with this book and put Love in Penang back on the shelf. I can't say I don't know what to expect from this book. From its title, I expected interesting and relatable stories about growing up as a Malay in Malaysia. But what I got was a bunch of essays on their personal experiences which often left me thinking, "Wow, enough with your childhood story already." There were a few essays with mi When I went to MPH, I was torn between this book and Love in Penang by FixiNovo. I made the decision to stick with this book and put Love in Penang back on the shelf. I can't say I don't know what to expect from this book. From its title, I expected interesting and relatable stories about growing up as a Malay in Malaysia. But what I got was a bunch of essays on their personal experiences which often left me thinking, "Wow, enough with your childhood story already." There were a few essays with misleading title too. There was one, where I expected an essay about what it's like to grow up during Mahathir years, but instead I got an essay on what she did during Hari Raya with her family. This book was underwhelming and felt flat for me, although there were few stories that are really good, but aren't satisfying enough for me to give it at least three stars.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Haaziq Zahar

    Finally I finished reading this book entitled Young and Malay - a compilation of stories from various age range and personal experiences. Some of the stories felt like you are reading a thesis with citations to other publications while others seem like those stories you will find on Humans of New York posts. One or two stories can be further tidied up to strengthen the overall message of the book. It is a must read book, but you have to read it objectively as it touches sensitive issues like dis Finally I finished reading this book entitled Young and Malay - a compilation of stories from various age range and personal experiences. Some of the stories felt like you are reading a thesis with citations to other publications while others seem like those stories you will find on Humans of New York posts. One or two stories can be further tidied up to strengthen the overall message of the book. It is a must read book, but you have to read it objectively as it touches sensitive issues like dissecting The Malay Dilemma by Tun Mahathir, racial polarisation and Bumiputera matters. Nonetheless, this book managed to spark discussions among my friends on what could have been and what should be done to further improve our beloved country. And that alone made it a worthy reading.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    I loved this book. The diversity of voices represented is remarkable (although more essays from kampung-Malays who grew up outside of KL/Penang would've been nice.) Some of the chapters include historical references and footnotes (useful) while others focus on the authors' individual experiences with the punk scene or at a Chinese school. Again: I loved this book. I loved this book. The diversity of voices represented is remarkable (although more essays from kampung-Malays who grew up outside of KL/Penang would've been nice.) Some of the chapters include historical references and footnotes (useful) while others focus on the authors' individual experiences with the punk scene or at a Chinese school. Again: I loved this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Zulaikha Mohammad

  11. 5 out of 5

    Munawwarah

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dil Ramadhani

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Arif

  14. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Knorr

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nurshafiqa

  16. 5 out of 5

    Zakwan Nazmi

  17. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

  18. 5 out of 5

    Paul Iversen

  19. 5 out of 5

    Adam Ummar

  20. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth

  21. 5 out of 5

    Aizah Aziz

  22. 4 out of 5

    Love Min Seok

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shazni Ibrahim

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ku Azmi Bin Mohd Roslim

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mardheanna

  26. 4 out of 5

    Fatin Nadia

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  28. 4 out of 5

    Max Loh

  29. 5 out of 5

    Fuwa

  30. 5 out of 5

    Aiman Kamal

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