It was in early May 2003 when Farish A. Noor stopped writing in NST and the online daily Malaysiakini.com, and I have to admit I hadn't read much of Malaysiakini then, though I've stumbled upon some gems of his that are still online.
Well, THE OTHER MALAYSIA, as the blurb of the book says, is a compilation of some of the articles by Farish A. Noor in Malaysiakini, so it quite piqued my interest when my friend Daniel Khong casually handed me this book when I was hanging out in his room w my fellow cicak kobeng friend, May Ling, since was bored with flipping channels on the tv ;D as there was, as usual, nothing on tv except sexy girls, copulating animals, a documentary on some obscure little civilization, people running around in some kind of sport, more news on more people dying, economics and how everything is getting expensive, and er, yeah the usual boring stuff that basically spells out - omg we're a doomed generation God save the Queen our sorry souls please.
But yeah anyway.
Now, although I've always kept an eye on Malaysian politics, I'd always shrugged it off as something that's not quite related to me - I found it particularly distasteful and childish at times at what the local newspapers churn out daily - and the various shenanigans exposed online - but yeah reading THE OTHER MALAYSIA gave me quite an insight into Malaysian politics and how it related to Malaysian history - in an different but containing both equally favorable and unflattering perspective to it.
For this I applaud the effort the author has made in presenting his views in a manner that has obvious prior analytical and critical thinking despite his obvious history with the Internal Security Act for exhibiting anti-government beliefs.
I was really quite impressed with the knowledge or perhaps the research of history done into writing his thoughts out - they are detailed and perhaps quite reliable as it has helpful little footnotes and explanations included in each article.
I must admit that although it was quite a good read indeed, it isn't an easy or relaxing read though - this stuff is quite thought provoking, I had to re read some articles and paragraphs - it challenges your mind as such - as of course opposed to reading (for example) a classic like the Bronte sisters - perhaps because its because after awhile I find out that Malaysian politics is indeed related to me - as an individual with 'Warganegara' stamped on my identification card.
But I have to say though that it isn't really a complete representation of what the title professes to be, The Other Malaysia - as I believe his writings are rather more focused on the Malay community and Malaysian politics where the Malays are concerned, and doesnt properly encompass the entire of the Malaysian community - but perhaps its how he relates best to it.
Someday I'd like to read a Farish-esque book on perhaps really objective and unbiased representation of Malaysian politics-history in a complete manner - including all political parties of various other races and causes but as we know is quite unlikely ;D as will probably only get a dissection of the ruling party, but yeah wistful thinking ;)
Post Script: This is a series of reviews on some books I've been reading during my seven-week holiday. You can certainly expect more coming up!