Floating on a Malayan Breeze

Travels in Malaysia and Singapore


Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh

ISBN : 978-988-8139-31-6


October 2012

308 pages, 6″ x 9″, 21 color and 5 b&w illus.

Not for sale in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, or Cambodia

  • HK$195.00

What happens after a country splits apart? Forty-five years ago Singapore separated from Malaysia. Since then, the two countries have developed along their own paths. Malaysia has given preference to the majority Malay Muslims—the bumiputera, or sons of the soil. Singapore, meanwhile, has tried to build a meritocracy—ostensibly colour-blind, yet more encouraging perhaps to some Singaporeans than to others. How have these policies affected ordinary people? How do these two divergent nations now see each other and the world around them?

Seeking answers to these questions, two Singaporeans set off to cycle around Peninsular Malaysia, armed with a tent, two pairs of clothes and a daily budget of three US dollars each. They spent 30 days on the road, cycling through every Malaysian state, and chatting with hundreds of Malaysians. Not satisfied, they then went on to interview many more people in Malaysia and Singapore. What they found are two countries that have developed economically but are still struggling to find their souls.

Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh is a senior editor with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). He comments on macroeconomic, political and business issues in Asia, and has written for a variety of publications, including The Economist and The Straits Times. Born in Singapore, he left after junior college and mandatory military service to study at Berkeley and Harvard. He returned home in 2005, where he lives with his wife and their two cats.

“One of the best, and certainly one of the most enjoyable, single-volume introductions to both countries’ politics, economies and societies, and to their delicate sibling relationship—part envy, part rivalry, part affection.” —Simon Long, “Banyan,” Asia columnist, The Economist

“For Sudhir Vadaketh, a young Singaporean, to describe himself as ‘Malayan’ piqued my curiosity because it is a term not often used today, and his reasons go far deeper than his family’s Malaysian connections. This lively book is more than just an enjoyable travelogue: it is a series of thoughtful—sometimes provocative—observations on the history, culture, politics, religion and other aspects of our diverse lives in Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. In an increasingly globalised future, it seems more and more likely that our destinies will remain intertwined. It is the same Malayan breeze on which we float.” —George Yeo, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Singapore