Audrey (left) and Shanmuga at the launch of “Perak: A State of Crisis” (@ TMI)

Dina Zaman of TMI was at the 1212 PASOC launch. Here’s the review, appreciate it Dina and TMI! Get your book here now.

By Dina Zaman

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 19 – With all this talk about the next general election and when it will be held, “Perak: A State of Crisis” is a valuable record of political history.

Published by Loyarburok, a spirited website which features provocative and informative essays on Malaysia, the book is a compilation of articles which first appeared on the website, save for three new articles written by Kevin Tan, Andrew Harding and Shad Saleem Faruqi.

Yet, this is not a case of stale news as much of what was written still resonates.

Even for political historians, analysts, and lawyers, coming across cases and nuggets of political history such as the 1986 Sarawak Crisis would only occur when they are directly involved in it.

What more for a new generation of Malaysians, as well as the middle of the road layman. There is little written testimony on the Sarawak Crisis, even in this digital age.

“Perak: A State of Crisis” seeks to address that gap – by putting down on paper the players, the ensuing drama and chaos, and how justice and democracy were manipulated and abused.

About 20 tongue-in-cheek essays written by well-known names such as Art Harun (Art’s essays make up good part of the book), Edmund Bon Tai Soon, NH (Ch)an, Amer Hamzah Arshad, and Shanmuga Kanesalingam, discuss and debate the Perak crisis.

The first half of the book also details the chronology of the crisis. Each essay ends with selected comments previously published on the website.

Shanmuga, one of the founders of Loyarburok and contributing essayist, explained that the website was set up to allow lawyers to express themselves. The start was slow but the Perak crisis soon changed things, as Malaysians trawled the Internet looking for the latest information on Perak.

Why has it taken so long for the team behind Loyarburok to publish its content as a book then? “We only got around to it just recently!” Shanmuga laughed. “Also, with everyone talking about the impending elections, it just felt right to publish the book now.”

According to Audrey Quay, a corporate lawyer and the book’s editor, “Perak is an iconic snapshot of Malaysian politics. It is very representative of what we see – Malaysian activism, voters coming around to declare what they wanted and not, and the general public pushing for fresh elections.”

The book, which also has photos of the demonstrations that took place during the crisis, exhibits the “… rakyat’s sophistication and desire for a change …”

The Perak crisis, Quay said, is also important as it is a crisis of “her time”; her generation can refer to the book when they wish to. And because the book has recorded a past, in all likelihood it will become a very important reference point for historians, lawyers and activists.

It is no surprise then that her favourite essay in the book is Art Harun’s “Bangkitlah, Anak-anak Malaysia,” the only Malay submission in the book. The article invites Malaysians to stand up for their rights and to fight for their nation.

“Perak: A State of Crisis” was launched last Sunday by Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin, the former mentri besar of Perak. The book retails at RM45.

For more information on the book and how to purchase, please click here.

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