A personal journey of what it means to be Malay
'If at all I am pro-something and anti-another, it is that I am pro-truth and human rationality, and anti-lies and hypocrisy.'
- AB Sulaiman
BOOK REVIEW Critics of AB Sulaiman's resonant book, ‘Sensitive Truths in Malaysia: A Critical Appraisal of the Malay Problem' will find much to disagree with. They will lay bare the partisan nature of his writing and hone in on the fact that he disputes the notion of ‘Ketuanan Melayu' as anything other than an ideological creation meant to unify a disparate community at odds with a changing world and country.
Admirers of this book will find much to agree with. No doubt, they will find comfort in his simpatico thinking normally exhibited by ‘reasonable' Malays. The term ‘soul searching' is often described in connection with writings such as these. However, I find another phrase more useful. What AB Sulaiman has done with this book is lay bare his Malay soul.
To be clear, the writer takes great pains to frame his ideas in a universal context, mindful of the fact that ethnicity and culture, is what divides us as Malaysians, so his ‘Malay' soul is a reference of mine.
At the heart of this book rests the examination of ‘Malay thinking'. Sulaiman approaches this subject as a ‘rationalist'. To quibble over the provocative nature of the term would be pedantic. Suffice to say what he attempts to do is examine the two main foundational elements of Malay identity, which are Islam and ethnicity...