Monday, July 22, 2013

1819 by Isa Kamari -- (Free e-book downloads)

1819 by Isa Kamari -- (Free e-book downloads)
(Rendered in English from the original Malay by Silverfish Books)

According to the history books, when I was in school a long time ago (and I believe it's pretty much the same still), Thomas Stamford Raffles reported to his bosses in the East India Company that Singapore was an island populated only by the Orang Laut (an indigenous people) who were mainly pirates. However, Isa Kamari's extensive research for this novel suggests otherwise. The author finds that Singapore at the time was settled by small Malay communities from the surrounding area, including different Orang Laut tribes (yes, he considers them Malays) and that they were certainly not pirates. He also learnt of settlements of Chinese, Indians and Arabs on the island, seafarers who had decided to make this their home. He also found that, while not a thriving port like Melaka, Singapore did receive traders from around the world.

But, Isa Kamari's Raffles is not merely a one-dimensional devious colonial monster and political animal (which he undoubtedly was). His is a believable portrait of ruthless cunning, but one with strong social principles, and wracked by tragedy.

“January 19, 1819. A British vessel, the Indiana, set sail from Penang down the coast of the Malay Peninsula, skippered by Captain James Pearl, with a distinguished passenger on board. He was Lieutenant Governor Sir Stamford Raffles. With the midyear south-west monsoons over, and with no fifteen-foot-high waves or incessant rain to deal with, the Indiana continued smoothly on the calm waters of the Straits of Melaka on an important mission for the British East India Company.
On January 27, in mid-journey just after Melaka, the Indiana was joined by eight other ships including the Investigator, skippered by Captain John Crawfurd, and the Enterprise, with the former Commandant and Resident of Melaka, William Farquhar, on board.”

1819. That was the year Stamford Raffles landed at South Point and founded Singapore. It was also the year that the famous Muslim saint Habib Nuh came to Singapore from Penang.  The story unfolds the tense and colourful relationship between the two significant figures in Singapore history between the early and late 1800s. Other characters that shaped the social, economic and political developments of the Malays in Singapore then were Sultan Hussein, Temenggung Abdul Rahman, Wak Cantuk, Munshi Abdullah, William Farquhar and John Crawfurd.

“(Wak Cantuk) was still extremely concerned about the British presence on the island. Wak Cantuk had only twenty students in his silat class, and that would not be sufficient to overthrow the occupiers. He needed at least a hundred.”

Subject:Fiction, Price: RM33.00

To buy:

Free e-book downloads:
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For e-book downloads of Rawa (another one of Isa Kamari's's titles rendered in English) please follow this link: