Monday, May 25, 2009

Books on Dr Mohamed Mahathir

Reading the news reports about Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s visit to Singapore, and his hope that his visit would signal “the beginning of a new era” in bilateral ties, my thoughts turned perversely to Dr. Mahathir Mohamed instead. We stock quite a number of books on him, so it’s difficult to come up with a representative list, but here are some books that present him from various perspectives:

  • The Malay Dilemma by Mahathir Bin Mohamad. The Malay Dilemma was first published in 1970 to much controversy, but remains essential reading for all. This book caused him to be called upon to defend his statements and claims. The arguments in The Malay Dilemma reveal the author's reactions to the pressing problems of the day, and show how politically inclined Malay understands the past, explains the behaviour of his own people and the behaviour of immigrants, and foresees the future. Dr Mahathir also examines and analyses the makeup of the Malays - their heredity, their way of life, their religion - and argues their case with stark frankness. The 2008 edition contains a new preface by the author.
  • Beyond Mahathir: Malaysian Politics And Its Discontents by Khoo Boo Teik. As the 22-year regime of Dr Mahathir Mohamad was coming to its end, Penang-based Prof Khoo Boo Teik wrote this rich, jargon-free and often hard-hitting account of his years in office. Mahathir's political persona, his achievements and policies, as well as some of his contradictory stances and dramatic actions are set in context. Unsolved problems are also unflinchingly highlighted.
  • Malaysian Foreign Policy In The Mahathir Era, 1981-2003: Dilemmas Of Development by Karminder Singh Dhillon. A description and explanation of Malaysia's foreign policy from 1981-2003 when Dr. Mahathir Mohamed's views and idiosyncrasies were always of course a very influential factor. Seven foreign policy initiatives are identified and set into local and regional contexts: Buy British last; Look East; Third World spokesmanship; Regional engagement; Islamic "posturing"; and Commercial and developmental diplomacy. External factors related to Japan, Singapore and China are also discussed and also linkages with domestic political pressures.

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