Young and Malay: Growing Up in Multicultural Malaysia

Young and Malay: Growing Up in Multicultural Malaysia

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INDIVIDUAL experiences, though strongly influenced by collective identities, are in essence unique ones. But in Malaysia, where ethnic identity is overpoweringly applied to constrict popular thought and rationalise government policies, the uniqueness of individuals is ignored and devalued – even by the individuals themselves. Paradoxically, the community that has suffered the political ascription of group identity most acutely and most inescapably is the ascribed majority group, the Malays. In this collection of essays edited by Ooi Kee Beng and Wan Hamidi Hamid, nine young writers – Haris Zuan, Wan Hamidi Hamid, Zairil Khir Johari, Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, Altaf Deviyati, Izmil Amri, Syukri Shairi, Raja Ahmad Iskandar and Edry Faizal Eddy Yusof – share their individual memories about growing up in Malaysia, and in some cases debate the racial politics in which they – and all Malaysians – seem inextricably caught. "Though Malays in Malaysia are constitutionally bound to be Muslims, many of the writers do not deny that among their forebears are Chinese, Indians and Europeans who practised Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and what have you. As I read their essays, I feel that they write for me as well. My origins are varied too for I have always prided myself on having Indian, Spanish and Acehnese forebears." — Ariffin Omar, Malaysian Senator