Essays on Society, Schooling and SalvationAuthor/Editor:
New Pb 156 pp.Subject:
In this fine collection of opinion pieces, the respected and sagacious public intellectual Azly Rahman reflects on the political machinations and cultural politics in Malaysia.
The book is a smorgasbord of commentaries on the poetics and politics of cultural life in a nation that is struggling to transcend its racialized structure to forge a cohesive and harmonious future. The word ‘smorgasbord’ may give the impression that what is presented in this book is simply a variety of ‘dishes’, hot and cold, familiar and exotic, all separate and distinct treats laid out on a buffet table. It is a smorgasbord with a difference: all the ‘culinary delights’ (read: commentaries) are laid out in an orderly manner with a story line that threads through the whole text. Organised around three main themes—society, schooling, and salvation—the commentaries offer rich food for thought and reflection and satisfy the intellectual and political appetite of anyone interested in Malaysian affairs and cultural politics in general....
Azly Rahman avers that ‘Political change needs social imagination and critical sensibility founded upon a very strong ethical system drawn and designed as a national philosophy; a transcultural system inspired by the strength and universality of all religious and non-religious philosophies - not just based on Islam that has its limitations and cultural biases, albeit insisted upon and imposed onto many as a complete and all-encompassing, all-hegemonising political, social and existential philosophy.’ I could not agree more.
Guided by such a principled philosophy, Azly Rahman makes a sound plea to Malaysians (and others): ‘Let us work together on a common ground—for the common good’. It is a clarion call to Malaysians to get out of their comfort zone and apathy and to join the movement for a better Malaysia where bigotry, racism and religious extremism are kept in check and where peace, harmony, intercultural understanding are reinstated and reinforced as part and parcel of everyday life.
There is much offered in this book that can constitute what I would boldly label as the ‘Malaysian Manifesto’.
Alberto Gomes, Ph.D
Emeritus Professor, La Trobe University, Melbourne
Global Director, Dialogue, Empathic Engagement and Peacebuilding (DEEP) Network.
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