Book Review: Jolly Good Lah!

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In line with the 50th anniversary of the British Malaysian Chamber of Commerce, they have published a book that takes a look at many of Malaysia’s key events through a distinctly British lens.

As a former Crown colony, Malaysia has long enjoyed a stable and beneficial relationship with Britain. Half a century ago, not long after Malaysia celebrated its independence from the Crown, the predecessor to today’s British Malaysian Chamber of Commerce took shape. Recently, published to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the British Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (BMCC), this book is not, strictly speaking, a historical account of the chamber itself, but rather an overview of key events in Malaysia with a decidedly British streak. Not a ‘coffee table book’ per se, what the BMCC strived to achieve within these pages is, instead, a compilation of facts, some figures, and personal anecdotes of Anglo-Malaysian life through the past five decades, and then some. From the initial arrival of the British and its East India Company to tap into the riches of the Orient, to the charming account of life as planter’s daughter in the 1960s and 70s, as well as a look at the era of ‘Dr M’, who led the country as its fourth Prime Minister from 1981 to 2003, which saw some testy times between the UK and Malaysia, the book also chronicles the country’s colonial heritage while including the key elements surrounding the eventual ‘Malaysia-nisation’ of Britishfounded corporations like Sime Darby and the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate, Lever Brothers. As the country worked towards greater business patriotism and economic independence, there were tumultuous boardroom tussles and a general shakeup in the way big business was being done in Malaysia, with the members of the BMCC (then known as BMITA) watching on anxiously.

There were also moments of pomp and glory, the highlights of which must have been the visits by the British royal family, including HM Queen Elizabeth II, as well as the more recent one by her grandson, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, who was accompanied by his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, as part of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Seen as a great effort in the strengthening of Anglo-Malaysian ties, the royal couple’s visit also proved to be the perfect platform to introduce a more personal touch of localisation: the introduction of the BMCC’s first Malaysian chairman, Dato’ Larry Gan Nyap Liou, to the global stage on this historic and landmark occasion. In his welcome address, he had said: “The Britain of today is most certainly a very different place to that of the 1950s, when the Queen ascended the throne. The ability to move and change with the times has been one of the enduring hallmarks of Her Majesty’s reign. The ties between Great Britain and Malaysia are many, long, and strong. It is against this background that the BMCC, first formed five decades ago, has worked to help foster these links – particularly in building opportunities for emerging businesses. Our connections on both sides of the world have forged an important bridge for interest to grow, trade to flow and opportunities to bloom.” And so, indeed, it has, and this lovely, informative book chronicle’s a wealth of events and changes in Malaysia, a country that, while no longer a colony of Britain, one that still enjoys a close relationship with the UK. To the next 50 years, then.

To Purchase
Price: RM180 (RM210 with limited edition sleeve case)
Where: At this moment, it is only available at the BMCC office.
How: Email [email protected] or call Andre at +603 2163 1784

Source: The Expat Magazine August 2014

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