This week’s #MCIRecommends features Muhammad Fazli Hamdan, a translator with the Ministry of Communications and Information’s Translation Department. We chat with Fazli to uncover his reading diet.
What Fazli is Reading:
Tenggelamnya Kapal Van Der Wijck (The Sinking of the Van Der Wijck Ship) by Haji Abdul Malik Karim Amrullah (Hamka)
Why do you find this book interesting?
The ‘Minang’ people are known for their deeply-entrenched traditional customs. These customs seek to protect their own ethnicity and their strong belief in same-status marriages. However, these customs were the cause of tensions which separated two star-crossed lovers whose different races and socio-economic statuses meant that they were forbidden to be together.
Although the story was written in the 1930s, it is still relevant to today’s world as we are seeing an increasing number of mixed-race marriages in our society. Additionally, the author’s choice of stylistic language has made the book very unique, as the metaphors and similes he uses are those characteristic of historical times, and are rarely used now. This book provides me with an in-depth insight of the perspectives of the older generations towards inter-racial issues and socio-economic stature.
What motivates you to read?
Reading opens one’s perspective up to the different perspectives and issues that people of different races and nationalities are facing. Reading also allows me to deeply explore how much a cultural group has changed or remain the same over the years. It gives me the opportunities to think more critically and make comparisons between different beliefs, customs, cultures and traditions.
What is it about Malay books that interest you?
I read a mix of both English and Malay books, but I do tend to prefer reading Malay books. It is difficult to explain why, but to me, there is more Malay books express emotion in ways that English cannot. That is something which I find really unique about Malay books.
Do you think the younger generation is in the habit of reading?
I think the reading culture in Singapore and the habit of reading is still there, but the medium through which people read has changed. Now, people no longer have to borrow books from the library in order to read — they now they have e-books and electronic reading devices such as Kindle! This is why you rarely see people reading physical books in public nowadays — the reading medium has changed.
What advice would you give working adults who say that they do not have time to read?
If it is really that difficult to read due to the lack of time, why not start small — and try to get into the habit of reading just one page of a book every day? By doing so, you can slowly inculcate the interest or habit of reading.
Also, before I read any book, I will first ask my friends who read a lot what a certain book is all about and what they like about the book. So in a way, this motivates me to read the book as I am interested to find out whether what my friends said is true.
Watch this space as we feature more book recommendations from our staff and local writers in #MCIRecommends, a series in support of the National Reading Movement’s Read! Fest 2017: Drawing with Evacomics!