By AYISY YUSOF
The first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman once said: “Independent Malaya is like a newly-planted tree. If everyone takes good care of it, the tree will grow, blossom and bear fruit. If we neglect the tree, it will surely die, and be t only for use as rewood.”
The first line of the national anthem — “Negaraku, tanah tumpahnya darahku (My country, where my blood was shed” — was also written by Tunku, the wise man who led other patriots in their quest to gain the country’s independence.
Commemorating the 60th anniversary of Malaysia’s Independence Day this year, a book entitled “Dialog: Thoughts on Tunku’s Timeless Thin- king” was launched as a tribute to Tunku and his legacy.
The book also covers various subjects including democracy, leadership, ethics, human rights and religion.
The book is a new anthology on his enduring wit and wisdom coupled as well as responses and anecdotes of contemporary Malaysians.
Dialog provides a fresh look at
Tunku’s words and his values, which will continue to resonate and fascinate Malaysians on the importance of unity, courage and determination, while keeping the country’s sovereignty.
At the launch of the book, Tunku’s granddaughter, Datin Sharifah Menjalara Hussein, said the book took about a year to produce via a compilation of 23 essays from various contributors.
“It has also traditional content for every scatter of Malaysian society,” she said.
She said readers will appreciate the value of the book as it connects people from all walks of life. It is also hoped that the younger generation will be able to enjoy the book and adopt the values that are included in it.
“We created the concept and design of the book with all our collaborators, which is aimed at uniting everyone to come together and relive Tunku’s memories and legacy.
“We hope the book will appeal to the young as it is different from other books. It’s rich with content, full of illustrations and entertaining as well as stimulating, as it is not historical-based,” she said.
The concept of the book certainly resonates with what Tunku once said — “We, who live in Malaysia must consider ourselves the luckiest people in the world. We are not in a country peopled by one race, but by a multiple of races. Our future depends on how well many differ- ent kinds of people can live and work together.”
Sharifah Menjalara said Dialog was the first of its kind as it is filled with facts and essays from multiracial contributors, ranging from as young as five to as mature as 90.
Among the organisations that participated in the creation of the book include advertising agency M&C Saatchi Malaysia, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, The One Academy (art and design college), Projek57 (a social enterprise dedicated to keeping Tunku’s values alive), and The Rojak Projek.
The Rojak Projek also created a quirky portrait of Tunku that is made up of spices that represents all the major races in Malaysia.
“The title itself indicates that it should create a conversation — about how the founding ideals of our nation are faring as we enter our sixth decade of freedom,” Sharifah Menjalara said.
She added that the book has far more than just “the cry of Merdeka”, as Tunku had a great deal to say about almost every aspect of the Malaysian national fabric, whether on unity, ethics, religion, law, civil liberties and more.
In fact, the book showcases a wide cross-section of Malaysia’s unique diversity, which comprises a span of contributors who responded to Tunku’s quotes ranging from politicians to rappers, from actors to academics, and from sports legends to veteran politicians.
The book features diverse contributors. They include Tun Musa Hitam, Harith Iskander, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Altimet (singer), Soh Chin Aun, Santokh Singh, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali and the cast of “Ola Bola”.
Essays and illustrations by younger Malaysians (including art students from the One Academy) ensure that Dialog is relevant among the new generation who is very much in tune with the vision and ideals of “Bapa Malaysia”.
The spirit of Dialog can also be experienced at the Concourse, Ground Floor, Bangsar Village II, from today until this Sunday (May 28, 2017) as a range of exhibitions, promotions and special screenings related to Tunku are being held.
Artwork created by the One Academy for the book will also be displayed.