Budi Kritik

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Why is it important to imbibe a thinking culture? What can contemporary Malays contribute by way of an active intellectual and social life towards reform and progress? Where are the loci of critical thought in Malay public life?

In a revealing book of essays edited by Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib and Nurul Fadiah Johari, writers from various backgrounds—academics, researchers, community organisers, and social activists—offer insights and critical reflections into contemporary Malay society. These essays span wide-ranging fields—from culture to religion, identity to literature, faith to governance—with a shared objective: to promote the will to think and challenge dominant perspectives.

By actively engaging in the identification of problems in society, defining and diagnosing them, Budi Kritik offers ways to overcome these problems through deep thinking, cogent analysis, perceptive insights, and an unwavering commitment to lasting peace and progress. This is a necessary and urgent book for anyone asking where the Malay voices are in public discourse.

Read the sample pages here 

About the Editors

Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib is an interfaith advocate and a founding member of Leftwrite Center, a dialogue initiative on issues of diversity and multiculturalism for young professionals. His writings have appeared in The Straits Times, Today, Channel News Asia, The Jakarta Post and South China Morning Post. He has co-edited two books: Islam, Religion and Progress: Critical Perspectives (2016) and Moral Vision and Social Critique: Selected Essays of Syed Hussein Alatas (2007). He was also former editor of socio-religious journal, Tafkir (2009) and was a co-recipient of the AWARE Award for Gender Equality and Justice in 2017.

Nurul Fadiah Johari works as a research assistant at the Social Service Research Centre, National University of Singapore. She holds a Master of Arts from the National University of Singapore with a dissertation focusing on intra-religious prejudices and stereotypes in the Singapore Muslims. She is also an active volunteer for the Gender Equality is our Culture (GEC) programme at the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), and runs a support group, Penawar, for Malay women undergoing religious trauma.


Budi Kritik

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These 22 thought-provoking essays from an array of Malay intellectuals with deep insights, have identified problems, defined them, made diagnoses and suggested possible solutions. They reflect a critical history of budi (intellect) and budaya (culture) while planting seeds of progressive ideas to transform the future of the 380 million inhabitants of the Nusantara region. —Hoon Eng Khoo, Associate Dean (Academic Affairs) and Associate Professor of Science (Life Sciences), Yale-NUS College

This timely volume addresses important issues closely related to the Malay community in the Nusantara. Through different lenses, twenty-two authors from different backgrounds contributed to such critical discourse with one common commitment towards progress – i.e. to reject the social construct of the Malay community as homogenous, monolithic and fixed. —Hoon Chang Yau, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies, University of Brunei Darussalam

This compilation of incisive and succinct essays by writers of varied backgrounds from the Malay world of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia represents a contemporary attempt to revive and advance the tradition of Malay intellectualism first developed in the 19th century, in which reform and progress are key motivations and themes. The writers collectively discuss major aspects of Malay society, drawing from a diversity of Malay, Islamic, universal and humanistic ideas of reason, culture and values. Epitomising the ideals of promoting a thinking culture that will examine issues honestly, critically and constructively, this book is a valuable reference not only for Malays but for all who seek reform and progress in addressing major social issues of our time. —Lai Ah Eng, Adjunct Senior Fellow, University Scholars Programme, National University of Singapore

A fresh, critical, perceptive and courageous compilation of young contributors’ reflections on vital socio-cultural issues affecting the Malays in the region in the midst of development and unprecedented change. Offers a commendable effort that calls for further engagement by all concerned in improving the condition of our pluralistic society in its various dimensions. —Noor Aisha Abdul Rahman, Associate Professor & Head of Department of Malay Studies, National University of Singapore


Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib, Nurul Fadiah Johari