Taking Penang Studies seriously


Like most new countries founded after colonialism’s fall, Malaysia lacks good historical studies about itself that are based on solid empirical data. No doubt, some do exist, but they tend to emerge at certain fixed levels. Either they are officially sanctioned hagiographies, academic works clothed in cautious terms, or memoirs by retirees who are unable to support their words with documents.

Now, this is a common phenomenon throughout most of Asia because the generation of leaders, bureaucrats and even scholars who emerged triumphant from the battles, negotiations and elections that were fought just before and after independence often thought it their duty to “keep the record simple”.

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