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Saturday, April 11, 2009


Once you look at this lady, you may think who is this little, short and sweet person. Never judge a book by its cover that is the saying that suits this compelling writer who wrote the novel, “This End of the Rainbow”. Adibah Amin started to write this book since she was sixteen. As most of the Malaysian English writers, her works also revolved around our Malaysian culture and integration. Yes, its shows those Malaysian writers do think alike. Why most of the stories written by Malaysian writers gyrated around the same issues? This is because they shared the same culture, experiences and linguistics background. Adibah Amin has a strong culture root which shape herself to write down about the colourful minds and expectations of Malaysian people. The common issues that were being emphasized in Malaysian masterpieces were none other than independence integration, freedom to write, friendships, and culture and tradition. In this novel Adibah Amin touched about the integration issue, how Malaysian leaders fought for independence the ways to cultivate nationalism and being proud of one’s root, culture and tradition. As we all know our Malaysian writers are still fighting for their right to express their thoughts freely. What had happened to these Malaysian treasures? Their freedom to write was obstructed because of the introduction of the National Language Act. Most of them were marginalized in their own country and by their own people. Is writing in English is a sin? It is up to us Malaysian to decide. When we think about Malaysian future, it maybe ends up with any “syndrome”. At this moment Malaysian integration culture and tradition are cracking and this illness is spreading like a plague. However, we have to change our attitudes that we have right now for the sake of our future. In this novel we can clearly see that some of the issues are related to a particular race. For example Chinese, during the World War 2 era were being related with the Communist movement.
Is there any future for MLIE? We as the next generation should ask this question to ourselves. So, please support our Malaysian literature in English from disappearing like a dead man buried in grave.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009



• Born as Khalidah Adibah bt Amin in 19/2/1936 in Johor Bahru, Johor.
• Her mother is Tan Sri Zainon Sulaiman (Ibu Zain), who fought for Malaysia’s independence with Tunku Abdul Rahman.
• Pen-name: Sri Delima
• At the age of ten, she went to English school.At first she had difficulties in adapting herself with English, but later were attracted with English language books
• In 1953, she pursued her study in University of Malaya
• 1958- Work as a teacher in Kolej Tunku Kurshiah, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan.
• 1970-became the headmistress of Sekolah Menengah Sri Puteri, Kuala Lumpur.
• Later became a lecturer in The Institute of Language, Kuala Lumpur
• 1971-became a journalist in The New Strait Times Press Sdn Bhd(NSTP)
-wrote “As I Was Passing”
• 1984-left NSTP; became a freelancer & teaching Malay
• Early 1990’s- joined The Star newspaper; wrote a column in Sunday Star Education


o Malay novels - Bangsawan Tulen, Seroja Masih Di Kolam, Tempat Jatuh Lagi Dikenang
o 200 radio drama
o A few short stories
o Writes for The New Strait Times newspaper (As I Was Passing I & II)
o This End Of The Rainbow (2006)
o Seroja Masih Di Kolam was translated to Japanese (Surojya No Hana Wa Mada Ike Ni (1986).
o Translation works:Shahnon Ahmad (Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan)
:SN Keris Mas (Rimba Harapan)


o 1980: Best supporting actress for Adik Manja in The first Malaysia Film Fest
o 1983: SEA Write Award
o 1991: Anugerah Pengembangan Sastera Esso-Gapena
o 1996: National Outstanding Journalist Award by Malaysia’s Society of Malay
o 1996: Johor’s Literature Award
o 1998: Tun Razak Award for outstanding contribution toward national education, & understanding among the races & harmony in Malaysia.


This is the first English novel by the notorious Adibah Amin.

The story basically was about a group of student at University of Malaya in Singapore in 1950's. The protagonist in this book took the name of Ayu, a gentle Malay girl who drop medicine study to be a writer.

I was lost a bit when I read the first few pages but then it started to flow. It started out when she was ragged at the university by Han, the Cynic. Already it touched on the sensitive subjects of racism.

And yep, you was right. The main theme that link all these different circumstances in this book is race relations, reflecting the general state of the Malayan at that period in time.

The tension that growing between the races concerns Ayu. This makes her explore variety of situatioins involving her characters that will brought you flashback after flashbacks; remembering conversation among childhood friends, the loss of her father and her friends when Japanese invaded Malaya, her mother's fight for independence, her hatred towards the British, etc, including Han's family history. Adibah Amin brought you to and fro to the future seamlessly which is a great thing otherwise it could be rather confusing.

The situations and questions being posed is recognizable and all too familiar in today Malaysian societies. The only difference is the issues are not presented as frankly and as unbiased as it did back then.

All the characters (and they are many of them) are very believable. This probably because many are based on real people known to Adibah. For example Ayu's mother is obviously inspired by the authur's own mother, the Umno freedom-fighter, Ibu Zain.

Han in my opinion is the most memorable character in this book. Han's family were murdered by the Malays during communist terror. It was because of misunderstanding between these two races. The Malays saw Chinese as one of the communist while the Chinese saw the Malays as 'pak turut' communist. It took sometimes for him to realize the pain truth. He who was expelled for the ragging incident form a multi-racial political society to ease racial tension. He tried to coaxed Ayu to joined the group but Ayu refused for her own reasons.

There was also Rizal, who Ayu claimed remains as good friend. I can surely sense the romance between these two.

The most touching part on this book for me when Adibah narrated the fight that Dato' Onn and the other independence figure fought for Independence. Almost brought tears to my eyes.

It is the same fresh, simple and direct style as her writing through her column As I Was Passing in the NST. This book is an easy read, and it is also eye-opening, especially if you are not familiar with Malaysia’s pre-independence days and the social unrest of the 1950s. I am not ashamed to admit that I was pretty shocked myself to learn what had happened during that period. This is the kind of ignorance that Adibah wants to educate in this book of hers.


Adibah Amin’s first novel in English was in bookstores on 6th November 2006. The title of the novel is This End of the Rainbow, it is about a group of young people at the University of Malaya in the 1950s which happened to be Adibah’s first year in college.

“No, it’s not really autobiographical,” says one of the most famous and well-loved names in Malaysian journalism. “I took bits here and there, from friends and from my own experiences. Mostly you will find hybrid characters.”

The book focuses on college life, with some flashbacks on the childhood of the characters. The lighthearted aspects are shown – ragging, clowning about, making friends – but Adibah also delves into the youths’ deeper concerns.

Teenagers during that era were just awakening to the struggle for independence, especially in Malaya, and were asking questions about their rights, social justice, racial prejudice and colonialism. They were merely young and trying to figure out the meaning of life.”

Adibah admits that she may be making a comment about the current state of increasing racial polarisation in Malaysian society. For her, sometimes to write about the past means to comment about the present.

In an interview Adibah Amin said, “Actually people say that there was no division then, but it is not true. Racial harmony was a concern even in the early days. People may have been closer but it was more in pockets of society, for example in the schools and colleges, or the workplace. But in general, Malaysians were still worried and wary. They still recalled the trouble between the Malays and Chinese in 1945, in Batu Pahat and Seri Petani.” (The Sunday Star, 2006)

Adibah felt that truly good relations between the different races in Malaysia could come about only if there was open and honest discussion.

For her, it’s not enough to just celebrate the festivals together. For so long Malaysians have been avoiding sensitive issues because of the 1969 riots, but that is not the answer. We can’t overcome anything if there is no discussion. Problems have to be thrashed out over concerns. We have to sit down and discuss honestly what can be done. What we mustn’t do is gloss over the relationship. It is about more than just meeting to eat together during Raya.

In the preface to her novel, Adibah writes: “I pray that all of us in our own ways will work towards the ‘pot of gold’ on the other side of the rainbow: our shared dream of lasting harmony.”

She chose to write about this particular period in time because the events and people at that time have been in her mind for so many years now and finally she is brave enough to allow them to see the light of day.”

In fact, she started writing this book when she was 16 and developed it over several decades. “I have been keeping bits and pieces in a large box all these years.”

She finally completed the final draft of This End of the Rainbow last year, after more than 50 years of working on it in fits and starts. Will it be the first of many novels in English?

“That depends on a lot of things,” laughs Adibah, who adds that the first one is always the hardest to get out!

Although an experienced, admired and iconic wordsmith, she has not considered sending her work to international publishers. “I hardly had the courage to send it to a local publisher!”

However, she believes that Malaysia does produce world-class literature.

“We are not recognised in that field because not many are writing in English. Also our authors are not promoted enough.”

Adibah agrees that one way to do this is to have good English translations of Malay novels as well as active promotion of the books.

“I translated Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan by Ahmad Shahnon and it was on the Top 10 list in Australia, but nothing further happened after that.

“I wish more people would write. I think there are those who have talent but just don’t know it and don’t develop it.”

Her advice for young writers is to “live a lot, read a lot but don’t be influenced by others’ styles, mix with lots of people, observe all the time. And don’t tear up your efforts.”

She also stresses the importance of developing a “thick hide” as being discouraged by criticism is a huge stumbling block in this line.

“I do feel though that, ultimately, it’s not up to you to say if you have talent. It’s up to the public.”