This book was published 20 years ago. I first learned about it on a Chinese talk show on Channel 8. The authors were invited on the show to talk about the book. They touched on a few points raised in the book – like the complex, enigmatic relationship between Singaporeans and our neighbours in Johor. Much of the material in the book was gathered from the authors’ interviews with folks on either side of the Causeway (mostly Malaysians). They were asked for their frank opinions about the other side. Frankly, I wasn’t that keen on the book.
Then, the lines were opened and “readers” called in to scold the authors for sowing discord. I remember that one of them even tried to justify the behaviour of ugly Singaporeans in JB. It was an awkward moment. I was shocked as the authors were Malaysian journalists working in Singapore. How could they be so insensitive? My interest aroused by the conflict, I decided that I had to get this book.
After reading it, I realized that the Ah Bengs who called in to scold the authors either didn’t read the book or didn’t understand it.
One problem with our society is that people are too quick to judge. They often dismiss something as unworthy without holding back their judgement and prejudice to look a little more closely at what is being said. Sadly, this doesn’t just apply to the Ah Bengs who called in but people who are supposed to be highly educated as well.
In the pages that follow, I have written a summary of the book along with some of my own commentary. As there is quite a lot being covered in this book, I have broken down my review/analysis into different chapters and sections.
Please check out the following pages.