The sweep through the history of Malay political ideas which is to be encountered in Malay Ideas on Development from Feudal Lord to Capitalist – a sweep achieved with analytic skill and clarity – will stimulate new readers to seek more detailed examination of one targeted writer or another. Creating such desire is an indication of the book’s effectiveness. Juxtaposing one thinker with another, setting modern debate in the context of traditional political thought, proposing categories or streams of political thinking – ‘capitalistic nationalism’, ‘traditionalistic nationalism’ and so forth – is the best possible way of promoting a greater interest in the history of Malay political thinking, and not just as an academic enterprise. Shaharuddin Maaruf is one of a small handful of scholarly pioneers whose work has the capacity to enrich the quality of political debate in Malaysia.
Basham Professor for Asian History,
Australian National University