Thursday, 18 September 2008

Failed Nation? by Rustam A. Sani

Today I had the pleasure of reading a book entitled "Failed Nation? Concerns of a Malaysian Nationalist" by the late Rustam A. Sani. For those who is not familiar with Rustam A. Sani, he was the son of one of our great freedom fighter, Abdullah Sani@Ahmad Boestaman. More than that, he was a great thinker and academician, a prolific writer, a literary master and most importantly a good soul. He passed away on 23 April 2008.

Anyway, I have been trying to get the book since it was first launch 26 April 2008. It's a collection of his writings that spans roughly 2 decades. In it you can take a peek into the mind of a great sociologist looking at the development of Malaysia as a full fledged nation-state and the creation of "Bangsa Malaysia", not only as a detached observer but also as an active participant of the process.

As you go along the pages, you can almost feel the sadness and sometimes the bitterness that the writer feel when evaluating our progress as a nation. On our confident existence as a nation during the 49th Merdeka Day, he had this to say, "Needless to say, there was certainly no convincing expression of confidence for our future".

In the same article, you can feel the losing hope of the writer on nation building through the last paragraph of the article,"It is high time that the highly articulate, theoretically-informed, social science promoter of the notion of nation-building that I have always wanted to be should also take a retirement just like the rest of me."

But of course not only on his pathos that I am interested in but also the weight of his arguments and his insights on nation-building and nationalism that is highly thought provoking. His statement that,"...Malaysia is just a state without nation - or at least, a state with several competing nations." forces us to look at this country we call Malaysia and re-evaluate our sense of nationhood. Can we look at our fellow Malaysian, without first identifying his race/religion/language/tradition and identify him only as our brother in this nation?

I have yet to finish reading the whole book, but from what I've read it inspires me to share a bit of the content, such a great thinker that was Rustam A. Sani. The only bad thing I can say about the book is that, his articles is too short for me. A more lengthy arguments would only bring greater elucidation to the reader and thus the better.

1 comment: said...

got a copy myself, and i agree, a wee bit too general....but great title tho