Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Chinese Dilemma

It was one of the most difficult books I’ve had to read. Not just because the writer had to be slightly delicate when it comes to ’sensitive’ issues (hence some ’roundabouts’), but he also had some illuminating points that made me look hard within myself as a Malaysian of Chinese origin. The plot being that reverse racism (or affirmative action) is not as bad as portrayed, but understand that crutches must be released some day so one could walk properly on one’s two feet.

The Chinese is not always right. Crying foul whenever opportunity arises without really understanding why — well no doubt a lot of it is due to our shared history and to this, nevertheless we are no angels. Our culture maketh us, our culture breaketh us.

I found a review of the book at Aliran Monthly, Khoo Boo Teik has this to say about Ye Lin-Sheng:

Born of immigrant parents, Ye lived the transition from British to Malay rule, a kind transition in Ye’s experience of race relations. In the 1960s, he left the civil service for the private sector. It was a successful switch way ahead of Mahathirist privatization.

Now an international investor, he makes hardnosed comparisons of the costs and benefits of living in different places. He’s loyal to home but not uncritical of domestic defects. He’s global but not seduced by western hypocrisies.

Surely this is the profile of a growing Chinese social type who pragmatically and sincerely rejects any suggestion that the grass is greener on many other sides.

If I’m correct, Ye’s (Chinese) readers, even if they’re stung by his strictures, will find The Chinese Dilemma to be confirmatory of the times in which they live.

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