Rehman Rashid

Feeling shocked and sad right now. I thought I might write a few notes about a book I read recently, Rehman Rashid’s Peninsula. So I googled the author, as you do – and found that Rehman Rashid passed away recently, on 3 June.

I knew he had had a heart attack in January but hadn’t realised he had been very ill and hadn’t been released from hospital since January.

I’ve read Rehman’s Peninsula and A Malaysian Journey. I enjoyed A Malaysian Journey when I read it some years ago – and Peninsula was good too.

Peninsula was a great overview of how much Malaysia has changed since it gained independence in 1957. A complex country, and “how perfect Malaysia would be if it could be a little less like Malaysia” (p.276)… I like Rehman’s descriptions of all the various communities that live in Malaysia, and how they’re all intertwined, interconnected, even if they might like to pretend they’re separate.

I was born in Malaysia but have lived in Australia for more than thirty years now. I feel fortunate to have read this book because I think my understanding of Malaysian history and politics was more or less stuck at the level of a self-centred teenager who had internalised her parents’ prejudices and a few lessons from school. It’s good when you can read something that teaches you something and helps dispel myths and misunderstandings.

Thank you, Rehman Rashid.




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