march 8: the day malaysia woke up

the latest, newest book ‘march 8: the day malaysia woke up’ by kee thuan chye hit the bookstand last weekend.

kee thuan chye had been a journalist for over 30 years and is a writer, actor, playwright.
this book of his had been reviewed in sunday’s star.

for all of you, especially  those overjoyed with the march 8 political tsunami, you must get this book to read. oh and one of the reason is…. some showing off here… MY CONTRIBUTION WAS FEATURED IN THE BOOK! really. a short write-up (a little over 1000 words) about the biggie ceramah i attended at han chiang. for the first time, my writings appeared in a book! so do get a copy of the book to read.  of course there are other bloggers and non bloggers whose contributions were featured in the book too but since this is my first time i ‘got into’ a book, i’m very happy!

so make sure you buy one copy and watch out for my write-up. 😉

oh yeah ok the big Q – how much? only RM39.90 (with 328 pages).

here are some information on the book:

About the Book

The day of the underdogs, the real Merdeka, a political tsunami, the perfect storm—by any name, March 8, 2008, will go down in history as a turning point in Malaysian politics. With their votes, Malaysians dealt a blow to the Barisan Nasional government that had held almost absolute power for 50 years.

Denying it the all-important two-thirds majority in Parliament and the control of five states has certainly made the political scenario more vibrant. Although surprised that there was such power in the vote they cast, Malaysians woke up to the true meaning and practice of democracy. They now face the present reasonably free from fear, free from the spectre of May 13.

This book is about that historic day and the change that came with it—an expression of hope for a brighter future, with many Malaysian voices speaking their thoughts frankly. There are also eyewitness accounts, interviews with key people, and articles never published before, written by fledgling and established writers.

• If you want to know what well-meaning Malaysians think this is the book for you.
• If you care about Malaysia and want it to change for the better, this is the book for you.
• If you feel that March 8 was really something, this is the book to help you remember it for years to come.

About the Author
Kee Thuan Chye is a patriot who does not believe in flag-waving on National Day. He, however, strongly believes in Bangsa Malaysia. He is a journalist of more than 30 years who does not believe in selfcensorship and spin-doctoring. He is also an actor and a playwright, best-known for his political plays, the latest of which is The Swordfish, Then the Concubine. His other titles published by Marshall Cavendish are 1984 Here and Now, The Big Purge and We Could **** You, M

Key selling points

Includes exclusive hard-hitting interviews with
Raja Petra Kamarudin, Zaid Ibrahim, Lim Guan Eng, Dr Lim Teck Ghee and Dr S. Subramaniam

Highlights

"How Big Are Your Balls?", an interview with Raja Petra Kamarudin
"The Racial Bias of Utusan Malaysia", a report by Yip Wai Fong, Centre of Independent Journalism
"One Hundred-Odd Days After March 8", a comprehensive record of events
"Enough of the NEP", an interview with Dr Lim Teck Ghee
"Just Call Me Guan Eng", an interview with Lim Guan Eng and other essays:
"We Need to Correct, Correct, Correct the Judiciary"
"Anwar’s Coming Out Party"
"Change and Hope and People Power"

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the review from the star:

The Star
Sunday, September 7, 2008

Remembering, reflecting
Review by R. Lim

This thoughtful collection of personal accounts, analytical essays, and intriguing interviews comprises one of the first books to document and discuss the consequences of the country’s history-making general election in March.

MARCH 8
The Day Malaysia Woke Up
By Kee Thuan Chye
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish324 pages
ISBN: 978-9673035113

MALAYSIANS are incapable and unwilling to do anything about the state of the nation they constantly grumble about. Apparently, that was the accepted wisdom before this year’s general election.

Half a century of democracy had, apparently, done nothing but teach us to accept the inevitability of political scandals and broken promises. In fact, by returning the ruling coalition with resounding majorities at every general election (except 1969, of course) since Independence, Malaysians repeatedly consented to the preservation of the political status quo.

And then March 8 happened, and Malaysians broke the historical mould.

Why was 2008 different from other elections? Was the comeuppance overdone? Now that we have reached a turning point, what next?

Kee Thuan Chye’s March 8: The Day Malaysia Woke Up attempts to answer these questions, and is a noteworthy addition to our collective memory of this event.

(Kee is an Associate Editor at The Star, and editor of the Mind Our English section. He is also a playwright whose latest play, The Swordfish, Then the Concubine, made its debut when it opened last month’s OCBC-Singapore Theatre Festival across the Causeway.)

Sandwiching personal accounts and essays between analytical essays and interviews, March 8 strings together 40-odd pieces by ordinary (and yet very extraordinary) Malaysians into a narrative about the emotional groundswell of hope and change.

Author and columnist Kam Raslan contributed a piece – replete with his trademark wit – on the use of fear as an instrument for control. The fear: that Malaysians are inherently tribal and violent, and given the opportunity, would inflict violence on each other. The instrument of control: the classic “divide and rule” methods of our former colonial masters.

Pieces critiquing the state of the nation and diagnosing institutional reform (the media, judiciary et al) feature prominently in March 8. However, with “analysis” and “prognosis” now generously dispensed by the mushrooming population of socio-political bloggers and armchair politicians (have you been in a taxi recently?), the freshest and most enjoyable bits of the book are reflections by individuals recounting their personal experiences of the election and of “Malaysian-ness”.

In particular, author Animah Kosai’s essay on children’s perception of race and religion is a delightful read. She recounts a childhood experience involving lard-laced chicken pies at school and writes, “Food divided us then, and food divides us even more now”.

Subtle (and perhaps unintentional) social parallels can easily be drawn from this personal account: Just as how we view with suspicion and deride the gastronomical sensitivities of others, often times eating only with our own kind, Malaysians find it uncomfortable to freely talk about politics with friends from other communities (although this may no longer hold true).

Awkward and terse moments do appear in the book, yet these are, interestingly, the most gripping and revealing bits. Case in point: the Lim Guan Eng interview.

The interview starts off with Penang’s Chief Minister providing polished and detailed answers rehashing his State Government’s policies as well as his periods of incarceration in the 1980s and 1990s.

But when it comes to talking about his relationship with his father and his own relationships with his children, Lim comes across as rather ill at ease.

By providing mostly disinterested one-line answers, was he jealously guarding his family’s right to privacy, or are there strains developing within one of Malaysia’s preeminent political families?

“Kee Thuan Chye: How close are you to your father?

“Lim Guan Eng: How close are you to your son?”

An intriguingly pithy exchange, isn’t it?

I found this to be the most pleasurable part of the interview, as it reads as if I’m eavesdropping on a counselling session with a shrink.

In this era of new politics, we say that politicians should be judged solely by their performance and not their personal lives. Yet, I wonder how many readers, those seated on the highest of moral high horses included, will not share this voyeuristic pleasure or refrain from passing judgment on this man and his family.

The March 8 election will be forever imprinted in our minds as a turning point in our country’s history. March 8 is a laudable effort to enrich our understanding of this event while documenting the swelling of emotions for posterity’s sake (“remember, remember the eighth of March”).

It is also recommended reading for politicians genuinely interested in winning the hearts and minds of Malaysians that have awoken from their slumber.

n R. Lim was a young, first-timer voter in the March 8 general election.

‘March 8: The Day Malaysia Woke Up’ will be available from today at all major bookstores.

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