Mahathir – The Secret of the Malaysian Success – Hajrudin Somun

Mahathir The Secret of the Malaysian Success - Hajrudin Somun

Mahathir The Secret of the Malaysian Success – Hajrudin Somun

I had the pleasure of reading Hajrudin Somun’s ‘Mahathir The Secret of the Malaysian Success’ during last few weeks. In fact, I was looking for a book about Mahathir Mohamad for some time and I found Somun’s book in a secondhand bookshop in Maradana. I had to decide between Yasser Arafat and Mahathir Mohamad as there were two books about them. I thought of sticking to Mahathir as he was more interesting for me.

The author of the book, Hajrudin Somun was the former ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Malaysia. He wrote the book while he was serving in Malaysia. He mainly wrote the book as a mark of respect to Mahathir as the latter helped Bosnians in a big way after the Muslims in Bosnia Herzegovina were subjected to inhuman atrocities by the Serbs.

Mahathir’s ascend to power is phenomenal. Mahathir bin Mohamad was born on 10 July 1925. He became the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia. He held the post for 22 years from 1981 to 2003, making him Malaysia’s longest serving Prime Minister. His political career spanned almost 40 years.

Mahathir has given special attention to Malays as they had been a backward race compared to the Chinese and the Indian communities living in the Malaysia. Malays had been given special opportunities in business, education, civil service, etc. to get them to contribute to the nation like the other communities. If someone tries to do this today in any other country there will be a big cry saying that is discriminating other communities. But Mahathir did it fearlessly as he understood the Malays were lethargic and unproductive. He wanted to change that. He was partly successful in it.

Mahathir had been unsympathetic to his critics and distractors. He had imprisoned hundreds of those who opposed him under Internal Security Act. He didn’t spare his own Deputy Prime Minister and one time loyal strongman Anwar Ibrahim. He was imprisoned for six years in 1998 under Internal Security Act alleging he was corrupt and involved in sexual misconduct including sodomy. He was arrested at a press conference with all cameras active. Ibrahim is the Opposition Leader of Malaysia now. It will be interesting how he will treat Mahathir if the former becomes the Prime Minister of Malaysia someday.

Mahathir took a lot of bold decisions to develop his country to what it is today. They were not popular decisions at the time of decisions were taken. There was a lot of criticism for his decisions. He gave huge concessions to those who invested in Malaysia. There were allegations of corruption but not against Mahathir, but against the politicians and officers.

Mahathir’s acid test was how he faced the economic crisis in the late 90’s. Everybody expected Malaysia to crumble with the onslaught of economic crises in the whole South East Asian region. Some say that this started due to some manipulation done by a Hungarian-American investor George Soros in Thailand share market. But Malaysia survived miraculously thanks to Mahathir’s futuristic vision.

Mahathir is Muslim and a zealous follower of Islam. He gave a special place to Islam in the country. But he did not become a fanatic like most of the other Islam leaders. He did away with unpractical Islam laws like women having to produce four male  witnesses in case of a rape of a woman which is still in practice in most of the Muslim countries.

Mahathir’s New Economic Policy (NEP) expired in 1990. He introduced the Vision 2020, under which Malaysia would aim to become a fully developed country within 30 years.

Mahathir did not like to be in power till the end. He believed in a proper succession plan and resigned from the post of Prime Minister in 2003 by introducing a new prime minister to Malaysia.
Many will criticize Mahathir for his unpopular decisions and the way he ruled Malaysia with an iron fist for 22 long years. But I admire him for taking such a backward country forward against all odds.

The Sleeping Dictionary

The Sleeping Dictionary poster

The Sleeping Dictionary poster

I had bought The Sleeping Dictionary movie DVD long time ago. But I didn’t like watching it as its name was… well… too academic. But few weeks ago when I didn’t have anything else to watch I thought if watching it. I felt like knocking my head against the door for not watching such a beautiful story for this long. It is such a beautiful movie. The movie was released in 2003 as an American romantic drama. The film was written and directed by Guy Jenkin and starring Hugh Dancy, Jessica Alba, Brenda Blethyn, Emily Mortimer, and Bob Hoskins. Till I read on Wikipedia page about the movie I never knew it was Jessica Alba who played Selima in the film. She was so local. I don’t know how makeup artists made her so Malaysian. The Sleeping Dictionary was filmed on location in Sarawak, Malaysia.

Jessica Alba and Hugh Dancy

Jessica Alba and Hugh Dancy

The British government sends a young Englishman (John) to Sarawak in the 1930s to become part of the British colonial government. He is supposed to mainly teach English to the local community there. There he is surprised by strange local traditions.  He finds himself attracted to a young local beauty. According to the local traditions, the girl selects him as his choice to become his “sleeping dictionary.” The tradition goes that the girl is to sleep with the young British officer and in turn, he is to teach her English and she is to teach him the local language!!! I wish such arrangements are still present in Sarawak. I am kidding; the world has changed a lot since colonial days. Surprisingly John, the English officer refuses to sleep with Selima saying that is not ethical. (Robert Knox also shared the same view when it comes to sleeping with Ceylonese women as he thought it was against Christian values and it was nothing but whoring.)

Hugh-in-The-Sleeping-Dictionary-hugh-dancy-5124874-1056-592 (1)

But later, failing to stop loving Selima as she is so cute and devoted to John, he finally falls for her. The two find themselves falling into a forbidden love. When their plans to marry are revealed, they lock Selima up. Selima then agrees to marry a local boy due to the tribe’s insistence. John and Selima part ways. You need to watch the movie to see whether they are united again.