A claim to educate

This post should make up for the long hiatus. It is Chinese New year, and if you don’t know, the festivities last fifteen days, and it is a celebration signaling the start of the Lunar new year. (duh)

But I assume people know this. I guess the explanation is part of my ‘never assume’ habit that I am trying to build. They say assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups, and hey, this shouldn’t be an exception.

Which brings us neatly to the subject at hand.

Recently I have come upon a book in which it claims to educate on important matters that the national education system has failed to teach to the people in the country. Impressive stuff, this, as the author goes deep into the annals of time to dig out facts that had been shrouded and skewered by years and years of political crockery.

The book goes on to disprove some of the very elements that are prevalent, yet exist solely to further increase the gap in between the multi-cultural and the multi-racial people that inhabit Malaysia. In fact, halfway through the book, I was convinced that the better part of the people in this country should pick the book up and do away with the ignorance.

The book is also marketed very nicely; there are nice graphic elements on the front and the typography inside is interesting and compels readers to read on. Sometimes, the subject matter is a little heavy, but you never get boggled down as the reader gets shipped along the text at a briskly pace.

I found no problem reading it. I liked it very much.

There are a few odd and peculiar things that I must nitpick lest I forget. The thoughts coming into my head are a bit fleeting at times. I have to write this down.

Why does it claim to want to educate the masses when it is packaged inside such an exclusive package? What I mean is, why is it written in such a way that, excuse me for my crudeness, only the higher educated and those in the know would know about it? I am not discriminating anyone or any class for that matter; this is such a general statement and if anyone is offended then it is their problem.

The book is sold in most bookstores and is targeted at people who probably read a fair bit. The language used is English, and the standard of English is proper.

My question is this: If the author is indeed truly sincere in sharing such information with the masses, should he/she have marketed it in a way that will only appeal to certain people? I really despise the use of this word, but I am inclined to say that it was targeted at the ‘elites’.

The pretentious twats.

The Yuppie playing the activist.

The college closet blogger.

The overseas student.


The scholars.

The Urbanites.

You get the idea. But what about the Village dwellers? The farmers, the fishermen, the lesser educated ( please bear with me here) in the country?

Your average person is NOT going to pick up a book filled with English terms too hard for him/her to understand. Let’s face it, the standard of English in this country is sub par at best. Do not argue, because if you assumed that ours is a country of sophisticated English speakers, you need to be checked.

Our local graduates from local universities can barely speak English. The students who graduated from our system’s government education systems struggle to be multi-lingual. I live in a more fortunate part of the city, where children grow up to receive education overseas and are raised to speak English but this part of Malaysia is but a speck in the big picture.

There are plenty of students who do not receive tertiary education at all, and even more who are forced to do them at local institutions, where they are taught in Bahasa Malaysia. I am not saying this is a bad thing as after all the national language of Malaysia is well, Bahasa Malaysia.

All I am saying is that If you set out to try to educate the masses, shouldn’t you do an edition in the native language? Shouldn’t you release an edition more digestible by the common people? Because, the point of the book really, is to enlighten people on the injustices that litter the economical, political and the social scene in Malaysia today. Shouldn’t the point of the book really, be to reach as many people as possible? Because ultimately, it is the masses that the book has missed out on that will change the nation, be it by casting votes over the next election or as activists, or revolutionists.

Now, let it be known that by now I am not just referring to the book I have read, but to all academic publications that have been published in Malaysia that bring light to both recent and on-going injustices in Malaysia.

What we have then in Malaysia, is a bunch of ignorant patriots who ride onto ethno-centric religious bandwagons that will ultimately shake the foundations of the harmony that we have struggled to uphold . A majority, poisoned by political propaganda ( read: racial nonsense) that parade the streets claiming to have the right of way.

It is imperative then, that publications make themselves more accessible to the masses. They need to rid these false patriots of their ignorance with proper facts that come from reliable sources. It is high time for academics and scholars to stop hiding behind their writing and come forward, not to like-minded people but to the public en masse.

The book is a good read. But without proper exposure to the people, it remains nothing but a pompous display of verbal masturbation.


Feb 23, 2010
Benjamin Wong said…

Maybe I missed it but what is the name of the book?

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Interesting post by a longtime friend. Good read 🙂