Floating on a Malayan Breeze: Travels in Singapore and Malaysia

$25.00 SGD $32.00 SGD

By Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh

Winner of the 2012 Asian Publishing Award
Best Insights into Asian Societies (non-fiction): Excellence Award

What happens when 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 Malay Muslim majority - 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 and their peoples 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 sets 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 was two countries that have developed economically but are still struggling to find their souls. Despite the historical and cultural links, the invisible political line has increasingly become a powerful force for mistrust and misunderstanding.


"...there are many whose attention this book deserves and who will find the book rewarding." - Julian Lee

"no ordinary academic book but a travelogue, spiced more than integrated by the aperçus of a considerable political analyst...stimulating and enjoyable this proves to be at every turn..." - R. Kershaw, Asian Affairs

"Floating on a Malayan Breeze serves as a good introductory text for readers unfamiliar with Singapore and Malaysia, or for students and the general public who have for far too long been fed state-endorsed narratives of the history and social development of their respective countries. The book's vivid and somewhat witty writing brings many of its interviews to life..." - Elvin Ong


Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh is the co-author of Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus. He also writes for a variety of publications, including The Economist and Yahoo! SG.


Publication Year: 2012
272 pages, 229mm x 153mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-647-4, Paperback

NUS Press and Hong Kong University Press