Thursday, November 30, 2006

Book of the week - Poems

Tankas from a Tsunami by Cecil Rajendra (Hardback, RM 50.00)

Tankas from a Tsunami is a cycle of poems in the aftermath of the horrendous tsunami that struck the Asia-pacific region on 26th December 2004; taking nearly 300,000 lives and leaving a trail of death and devastation that affected millions around the globe.

The tsunami, Rajendra says, brought out the 'best and beast' in men: thecourage / the corruption, the greed / the generosity. The self-sacrifice / the self-promotion, the brave and the braggard, etc. etc.

It spiralled, he adds, into almost a metaphor of the human condition in the new millennium.

For this most taxing themes, Mr Rajendra employs the tanka stanza: the daunting Japanese verse form of 5 lines comprising 31 syllables in a 5-7-5-7-7 arrangement.

Tankas from a Tsunami is Mr Rajendra's 19th collection of poetry.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Book of the week - politics

"The Finest Hour": The Malaysian-MCP Peace Accord in Prespective by
Collin Abraham (RM 40.00)

According to this scholarly polemic by Collin Abraham, with the promulgation of the Haadyai Peace Accord in 1989, Malaysia finally took its place among independent nations of the world after centuries under the yoke of colonialism.

Any attampt to explore an event in the history of the guerrilla warfare in Malaya from a social science perspective is bound to be fraught with theoratical and conceptual problems. Nevertheless, social scientist Abraham has managed to wade through the deep end of this malaise by dissectng the defining milestones that led to the peace accord: the roots of the anti-colonial resistance in Malaya in the late 18th century, racial polarisation, the Malayan Union, the colonial transformation of Chinese society, the Japanese Occupation, the Malayan Communist Party, the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960), the Baling Talks (1955) to the Haadyai Peace Accord in 1989.

The author's concerns and observations, though gripping they may be, are bound to be controversial and contentious and will likely lead to dissenting arguments among many parties; they are, however, not meant to be the be all and end all to this period of Malaysian history, but serve as an invitation to further debate on this dark period of Malaysian history.

An intriguing chronicle of events leading to the way we are today. This is required reading for anyone who cares about the historical evolution of Malaysia and where we are heading.