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The Malay Dilemma

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  511 ratings  ·  60 reviews
In The Malay Dilemma, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad examines and analyses the make-up of the Malays and the problem of racial harmony in Malaysia. First published in 1970, the book seeks to explain the causes for the 13 May 1969 riots in Kuala Lumpur.

Dr Mahathir sets out his view as to why the Malays are economically backward and why they feel they must insist upo
Paperback, 188 pages
Published 1996 by Times Books International (first published 1970)
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Azwa Ahmad
May 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Admittedly, this is a tough book for me. The first half was brilliant, but I needed to forcefully drag myself to finish the other half mainly because I found my beliefs hardly converged with that of Tun’s. It is evident that he was heavily biased in the book that the notion of Malay’s betterment appeared to be his primary objective, or one of his soul-goals in his life. I wondered what had ignited such racism, the kind that existed with such revered magnitude, that it gave me a constant headache ...more
Bookworm Amir
Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
What do I think about this book?

It.Literally. Changed. Life. My Life, most of all.

I recommend all Malays to read this book - and all Malaysians.

Noone knows Malaysia's social problem more than our ex-Prime Minister (This was written before he became the PM).

EVERY SINGLE problem attributed to our social,economic and intellectual plight are listed, and the reasons for it found and explained. Then, we can act to solve it. In it he also tells us how to change it and what to change - and what to kee
Apr 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, malaysia
A must read by every Malaysian. This book should be read in schools. The author has biases (which he admits to in the preface), and he also refuses to make apologies. It is a book written with absolute sincerity and honesty, whether you like it or not, it is the author's opinion.

This book was written more than 40 years ago, long before I was born, and yet, I comprehend the dilemma and the problems pretty well. The book is written in concise and easy language.. However, the author also draws a l
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
A must-read for anyone who wishes to have some understanding of the racial situation and political agendas that exist/have existed in Malaysia. Written by a former Malaysian Prime Minister, prior to his premiership, the book is essentially a political document with comments that are (frankly) unsubstantiated and I felt some of his arguments contradictory. In the chapter "Code of Ethics and Value Systems of the Malays" he sensitively describes the Malay worldview and practices which up until that ...more
Alicia Low
Jul 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
I disagreed with this book in every possible way. It rambles on and on about the same points, which are steeply based in the author's own interpretations of history and society. Crude, broad generalizations and overall a terrible attempt at justifying institutionalized racism. ...more
Nov 11, 2010 rated it liked it
We are still in Dilemma...
Ridzuan Rosli
Nov 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Provided the chosen language is accepted, a multiracial nation can mould a national unity by employing accessory methods such as the projection of a focus of loyalty like a king, the teaching of national history, the veneration of national symbols in the form of the flag, the anthem, the colours etc., and last but not least, respect for the constitution and laws of the country — Mahathir Mohamad, The Malay Dilemma (1970)

It has been years I wanted to read this book since I saw my father read it.
Mar 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Any Singaporean, Malaysian, or person interested in this part of the world
Filled with logical flaws and inconsistencies. There is also little attempt on the author's part to cover his biasness.
BUT, this is really quite an *essential* read for any Singaporean, Malaysian, or anybody interested in this region of the world.
As a leader in the Malay world, Mahathir has articulated the reasons for and beliefs that led to the Bumiputra policy. Indeed, if people did not think as Mahathir did back in 1970, I wonder if Singapore would even exist today.
So, whether you agree or d
Fakhrur Bukhary
Apr 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant analysis on racial issues in Malaysia (then Malaya), written with sincerity
Nov 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Malaysians should read this. For every decisions made, there's a reason. This book tell you Dr Mahathir's reasons. ...more
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a non-Malay Malaysian reading this book, halfway through the book I was thinking how much of these is just plain excuses for the Malays to be where they are not because of their lack of efforts but it is mostly due to their nature and the condition they had gotten into. It upsets me a little as much of it seems very bias towards the Chinese. Then I thought why not read this book from the perspective of the Malays, how will it feel to be helpless in your own land while seeing the immigrants sl ...more
Victor Tan
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A highly educational book about Malaysia that made me rethink the nature of inequality, privilege, and a variety of other issues that I would not have considered so deeply had I not considered Dr. Mahathir's reflections on race, colonialism, and the formation of Malaysia as a nation.

Very valuable to anyone who is interested to contemplate issues of race and the meaning of racial equality, as well as what it actually means!
Judith Huang
Just read this 1981 edition of #themalaydilemma by #mahatir from my parents’ library. Interesting how Darwinism and eugenicist ideas led him to opposite policy from #lky. Looking forward to discussing this with @readersofmalaysia #judreads #bookcover #vintage #parentscoldwarlibrary #bookish #bookstagram #girlswhoread #malayanpolitics #malaysia #book #bookreview #judreviewstuff
Mohamed  Askar
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book as it describes why, how and when a human can make a difference. Also it has a lot of interesting incidents and stories about a country which I really love, Malaysia.
Cathreen Shiucheng
Aug 31, 2017 rated it liked it
The very frustrated Tun M on racial inequality in a very repetitive manner. It's like he had been recycling the same argument in every chapter on how the non-Malays, namely the Chinese and Indians are better off and on the competitive advantage compared to the Malays. Bet UMNO members will be rereading this every year prior to their General Assembly Meeting which is in line with the slogan - "Demi memartabatkan bangsa Melayu dan mempertahankan hak orang Melayu" 😏😏 nevertheless, to define what Ma ...more
Mohamed El-Zeadani
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Finally, I managed to find time to read the much controversial book by Tun Dr. Mahathir. I had sights on this book since 2017 when I read the Singapore Story by Lee Kuan Yew. The Malay Dilemma didn’t disappoint and gave me a better idea of the methodical thinking of one of the greatest politicians of the 20th century. However, at some parts of the 236 pages long book, I felt that the author repeated himself unnecessarily and had an overall dim view of his fellow Malayans.Yet, in most of the book ...more
Nan Hao
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
What I read is a Chinese translation prefaced by Mahathir Mohamad.
Even from a perspective of an outsider, I can still feel the whole book is filled with inconvenient truth (if what he wrote can be counted as truth), which, therefore, explains why it was banned by then Malaysian government.
But, anyway, I should say the so called Malay Dilemma, to a great extent, is actually also Malaysian Dilemma.
Oct 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
I read the first edition and from the first page to the last, i hated every bit of it. I hate the book because firstly, Mahathir is a leader of this nation and I find it mind boggling to read his thoughts about the Malays and Chinese and how very less references were made about the Indians. I felt my anger plopping here and there just like a heated volcano not sure if it should erupt or not with every page I read in this book. It was not a very thick book, but the thoughts of Mahathir which he s ...more
Khairul Hezry
Oct 22, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: politics
If the author had not ended up becoming Malaysia's fourth Prime Minister for 22 years, I doubt this book would still be talked about today. A flawed treatise on the Malays of Malaysia, it nevertheless gave us a peek into the mind of a man who either brought Malaysia kicking and screaming into the 21st century or the man who did irreparable damage to the social unity of the Malaysians, depending on who you ask. ...more
Linus Koh
May 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
Let it be known that this book is by no means objective nor an authoritative text on issues related to the Malay ethnic group in 1970 Malaysia. To say that the book has any truth in it is akin to saying that the bible is the truest reflection of the word of god. The content of the book is coloured by the perceptions of the author, whom I have structural disagreements with. To dismiss the book merely as a political weapon is for me to be wholly disingenuous. While I cannot comment on the validity ...more
Marc Menz
Interesting opinions by arguably the most well known Malaysian. As someone new to the subject, it was fascinating to understand some of the history and mindset of the native Malays, as well as the working relationships with the non-Malays (Chinese and Indian mostly). The lasting impact of colonialism, racial inequality and hereditary customs are all discussed. While there’s plenty I don’t readily agree with, it’s interesting to read the argument. I knocked off a star due to lack of sourcing and ...more
Siti Aziz
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Although some points are less relevant now, it is a poignant reminder of how the course of history can become a major setback in reaching economical equality between different races in Malaysia today. A must read for all, a thought-provoking book which must be taken in with an open mind.
Amsyar Aqhari
Feb 24, 2021 rated it liked it
Most of his thoughts on malay's origin in this book are not based on science and facts, can't blame him since during his time there's few research on malay in general. What gets to me is Malaysia's today are still facing some of the problems 50 years ago in politics and social. It's quite sad tbh ...more
Sabariah P.
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heavy reading. Forced myself to finish it trying to understand how Tun works.
Vincent Chang
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Points for agreement, disagreement & debate for this book. Worth reading!
Zulkifli Ismail
true about malays people
Azman Jalani
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I strongly believed that this book was all about Tun's vision and mission for the future of his beloved country, Malaysia, even before he was going to become the fourth and seventh Prime Minister. ...more
Shafiq Razak Rajan
Aug 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Undoubtedly, this is a book that many Malays of post-independence Malaysia have read. No, not because they have actually read it. Rather, its ideas and visions have been translated (with varying degrees of success) into national policies that affected generations of Malaysians. So if you, a Malay, still have not pick up this book, don't worry. Its ideas are familiar to you. If not from Dr. Mahathir himself, then you'd probably had heard them from your teachers, parents, friends, colleagues, gove ...more
Raymond Chan
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
As someone who is not even Malaysian, I have met a lot of Malaysian Chinese friends who hold very negative attitudes towards the ethnic Malays in their country. From the book, I can understand where the author's point of view was coming from and to a certain extent I can empathise with his point of views because if I was a Malaysian Malay I would be probably be thinking about the same thing.

However his proposed solutions are far too radical and not pragmatic enough to solve the problems. True h
Reza Amiri Praramadhan
My impression after finished reading this book is that I feel that I read a book not different from Mein Kampf, except that the protagonist, the Aryan Race in this book were the ones being dominated, not the other way around. According to doctor Mahathir, the Malay, as a race is inherently to be dominated by other people, such as immigrants from China and India, brought by their imperial overlord, the British. Doctor Mahathir depicts the Malay in such a pitiable way that according to him the mis ...more
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Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad ( born 10 July 1925) (Jawi:محتير بن محمد) was the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia. He held the post for 22 years from 1981 to 2003, making him Malaysia's longest-serving Prime Minister, and one of the longest-serving leaders in Asia. Mahathir's political career spanned almost 40 years, from his election as a Malaysian federal Member of Parliament in 1964, until his r ...more

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