Regarded as one of the most outspoken commentator on Malaysia’s social and political affairs, Marina Mahathir is one Malaysian woman that we all admire. Now, out with a new book containing her thoughts on contemporary social issues to the unpalatable truths called Telling it Straight, we talk to Marina about her thoughts on her book, and her two cents worth about how Malaysia can be a safer place for women.
Q. What made you decide to collect all your articles and get them published in a book?
People have been asking me for a long time to publish a book, but it’s just that I’ve been so busy.
When I was at the Singapore Writer’s Festival, they asked if I had a book to launch, and I just asked my publisher about it, they said yes, and then it happened! It’s really like, in a way quite unplanned, but I’m so glad we’ve done it!
Q. How long did it take for you to complete the book?
I think we started work for the book around March, so it wasn’t that long, really.
Q. What were you hoping to achieve with Telling it Straight before it was published?
It’s basically a compilation of all my columns. I figured it would be nice to put it all into one place, but no everything, of course. The organizers also helped organize it so it was classed in themes. But I still had to write some introductions to tie the stories up together, and it’s more about why I was talking about these things, and why my views had changed. These are the additional things that you won’t find in the column, and it also includes the pieces that were not published in the papers.
Q. Is there any particular topic that you like that is included in your book?
Mainly questions about women and gender equality, mostly. Not enough people talk about it, so I feel like I should.
Q. In your book, you stress that woman are constantly attacked as they are perceived to be weaker than men. How would you suggest that we change that perception?
Well, I think it’s not just about empowering women to just protect themselves, but the whole environment has to change. So, I think we should encourage more respect between the sexes, particularly for men towards women. It should be clear for men not to say terrible things to women or to treat them in a degrading way. All in all, we have to create an environment that’s safe for everyone.
Q. In Telling It Straight, you mentioned that it was puzzling when high-society VIP’s getting bestowed awards for “mysterious acts of charity” when there are actually everyday people doing actual work to help build a better society. Which Malaysian would you like to see awarded for their service?
I have no one in particular in mind, but the Average Joe. There are lots of wonderful little people who do these amazing things. I think we need to make the effort to find the people who do great service for the community and have been unrecognized for all these years.
‘Telling It Straight’ is available at all Borders stores at RM39.90.