Blog Archive

Monday 12 September 2022


New Arrivals at The Penang Bookshelf


September 2022

(Last Updated 12-9-2022)
  • Each book advertised below includes a brief description of its contents and condition as well as the price in Malaysian Ringgit. If you want a fuller description of a used book's condition, to look at the scanned contents page, if any, and/or to find out the price in USD, please click on the link in blue for the relevant book. 
  • If you click on a link after the current month and find nothing, the book's been sold.  
  • Of course, if you want to buy anything you see here, you can either do so from the site or contact me at 
  • This page will be updated constantly until the end of the month.
  • The prices shown here hold good for at least this month, but for out of print books, the prices may change in subsequent months.
  • All prices include free postage to anywhere in Malaysia and orders under 2 kg to Singapore.

Malaysia & Singapore - Anthropology & Sociology

Peletz's study examines how this matrilineal society in Rembau, Negeri Sembilan managed to survive British imperialism, modern market forces and Islamic Malay nationalism during the period of 1830 to 1980. 383 pages including notes, bibliography and index. Near Fine Paperback 

Malaysia & Singapore - Arts & Crafts

Latiff Mohidin, a renowned painter, poet and sculptor, is considered to have had three periods of his work - the formative, meditative and gestural periods. The works illustrated here, which formed part of a Singapore exhibition, are considered to be from his meditative period. They are a mixture of paintings and sculpture inspired by the island of Langkawi before it became a tourist attraction. New Hardback. First Edition. 81 pages with many colour illustrations


A collection of articles on the history of the Hakka people in Sabah, formerly North Borneo. The community, the largest Chinese ethnic group in the area, were responsible for a wide range of development in the state. New Paperback. First Edition. 197 pages with several historic black and white photographs.

Beads for decoration, religion and currency have been part of Sarawak culture for centuries. In this book the then Honorary Curator of the Sarawak Museum describes historical beadwork, how beads are made, designs used and beads in ritual Near Fine Paperback. First Revised edition. Originally published in 1978. Very Good paperback. Reprint  23 pages with many colour photographs and line drawings and a bibliography. 

Malaysia & Singapore - Business Economics & Labour

This is a 24-page pamphlet, based on research of the Malaysian Forest Service, surveys the appropriate types of timber suitable for furniture in some technical detail. Very Good Paperback Revised 

This claims to be one of the first major studies of the impact of party politics on the formulation and implementation of Malaysia's economy, despite Government claims to the contrary. The reader is briefed firstly on the colonial economy, followed by the New Economic Policy with five case studies, privatising state assets with two further case studies and an account of Malaysia's 'New Rich' with four further case studies. 207 pages with a bibliography, an index and extensive tables and figures. Very Good Paperback. Reprint Edition

Malaysia & Singapore - Children

A children's adventure story set in Sabah, formerly North Borneo. Very Good Paperback. Reprint. Originally published in 1967. 121 pages.

Malaysia & Singapore - Chinese Community & Culture

This study examines the common phenomenon of how immigrants transpose 'home' from being the country of their or their ancestors' origin to that of the place where they now live. Malaysia's a particurly interesting example in that the Chinese community's connection was not only fostered by frequent comings and goings between Malaya and China, but by the Chinese Government itself through their representatives in the country. This phenomenon also contributed to Chinese victimisation by and resistance to the Japanese and, of course, their involvement in the post World War II insurgency against the British Colonial Government. Hara's research was conducted in the late 1980s. 166 pages. Chapters include - 1 - China-Related Public Gatherings and Their Participating Groups, 2 - Chinese Language Newspapers in Malaya, 3 - The Role of Consulates, 4 - Chinese Government Policy Towards Overseas Chinese. There are two appendices, a glossary, a note on personal names, a bibliography and an index.

Malaysia & Singapore – Cinema, Dance, Drama & Music

Lee Elaine, who has won many awards in the musical industry and plays numerous instruments, has researched on the ethnic musical instruments which reflect the multi-racial and multi-cultural society in Malaysia. In this book, Lee categorises the instruments into different cultural origins, i.e. the Malay, Chinese, Indian, Sarawak, Sabah and Orang Asli cultures. Each instrument is described with a picture and its history. New Hardback in a New Dust Jacket 120 pages and a 3 page glossary.

In this first volume of Pereira's stunning record of Singapore pop music from the 1960s, he covers the period from 1961 to 1965. The era was kicked off by the performances of Cliff Richard and the Shadows in November 1961, a turning point for Singapore pop music, and was followed by local groups performing on TV shows, such as Pop Inn, competing in competition and holding their own shows in theatres and elsewhere. New Paperback. First Edition 146 pages For further details, please see the scanned contents page

This book covers Malay popular music from 1900 to 1965. It is based on a collection of records and memorabilia belonging to the author's father, a prominent musician of the period. A wealth of photographs are accompanied by anecdotes and biographies. The book is in Malay and English. New Paperback. First Edition. 255 pages with a bibliography, a list of online references and an index. 

Malaysia & Singapore - The 'Emergency'

The defeat of Communist insurgents within Malaya was almost complete by 1960, when the remnants of their forces retreated to Southern Thailand. By 1968, however, the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) had regrouped and entered into a war, known as the Second Emergency, with Malaysian forces on the border. In support of their renewed struggle, radio broadcasts from China, known as Suara Revolusi Malaya or Voice of Malayan Revolution, began. This volume contains transcripts of many of those broadcasts with an introductory essay by the editors. New Hardback First Edition 350 pages with an index.

Malaysia & Singapore - Environment, Nature & Wildlife

A selection of the author's contributions to his long running series in Singapore's Business Times. A charming introduction of how to create a tropical garden in an urban setting. 136 pages.

This guide comes in the form of a laminated fold out card with colour photographs of 52 species on one side and a line drawing and other information about habitat, distribution and height on the other side. 10 pages. New Card First Edition. 

A collection of 14 essays on various mammals and sea creatures that inhabited the Malayan peninsula and its seas in the mid 20th century. Good paperback. First Edition. 86 pages with a map, a line drawing and 6 black and white plates. 

Despite at first glance appearing to consist mainly of concrete and glass, Singapore is host to a diverse array of land and sea creatures and has an active programme of conservation. This handbook enables the naturalist to spot marine invertebrates, arthropods, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals that are in danger of disappearing from the island and its environs. New Paperback. Reprint. Originally published in 1995. 159 pages with many colour photographs, suggestions for further reading and an index. 

Malaysia & Singapore - Fiction

Shadow Man has had a rough time, firstly during the Japanese occupation of Malaya and then during the 'Emergency' when his father is killed by the Communists. He joins a commando unit to fight the Communists, but disappears in an ambush, missing in action. Although he was assumed dead he has been living, cut off from civilization, with the Akran tribe and now re-emerges after thirty years as a killing machine with a mission to kill the prime minister. Major Mahmud, his former commanding officer, has the job of tracking him down before the assassination is carried out. 332 pages.

A novel set in Malaya of the 1960s that is not about the 'Emergency.' A retired British military officer in Malaya seeks to protect  a teenager, whom he sees as a daughter, from falling head over heels for a brash Australian who arrives on the scene. A tiger starts terrorising nearby villages which sets both men as rivals in its capture. Very Good Hardback in a Good Dust Jacket. 391 pages. 

Malaysia & Singapore - Folklore

This work is a result of the editor's idea to approach a range of authors whom she knew and ask them to take Malaysian and Singaporean myths and fairy tales and use them as inspiration for a new story for contemporary adults. In these 17 short stories you'll come across much that's both familiar and thought provoking from authors as varied as Zed Adam Idris, O Thiam Chin, Amir Muhammad, Janet Tay and others. 204 pages

Malaysia & Singapore - Geography & Guide Books

A facsimile reprint of the 1907 second edition revised by Walter Makepeace. Reith's original edition was published in 1892. The book was intended as a guide for the European traveller who was expected to be mainly interested in, as Paul Kratoska states in his foreword to this reprint, 'the fruits of the Public Works Department,' i.e. buildings, docks etc. There are also sections on the flora and fauna of the island as well as a brief review of the Malay language. Very Good Paperback. Reprint  133 pages and 25 pages of advertisements of the time, a fold out map of the island and six black and white photographs. 

The book is divided into two parts, each dealing with major catastrophes that have beset the country. In the first the authors look at the impact in various sectors of society of the covid-19 pandemic. In the second the authors reflect on the country's response to the 1997-98 financial crisis. Finally they suggest policies that could be put in place and implemented as a response to such disasters. New Paperback. First edition. 270 pages with an index, tables and a figure. 

Malaysia & Singapore - History (18th Century)

The author, a fellow of the Royal Historical Society (London), looks  at the early attempts of the British East India Company to secure a foothold in the Malay Archipelago. He covers the period from Lord Moncton's mission to Kedah in 1772 to the signing of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824. Good Hardback. First Edition. Signed by the Author. 174 pages with a pull out map 

Tweedie reviews the various stone age cultures prevalent on the peninsula, makes a comparison with other countries in Southeast Asia and gives reports on excavations from Guak Kepah and Tanjong Bungah. 90 pages plus 10 pages of black and white plates. This was published as Volume 26, Part 2 of the Society's Journal, October 1953

Malaysia & Singapore - History (19th Century)

A collection of light tales thrown together by one of the more prolific writers amongst the British administrative class in Malaya. This collection was completed while Clifford was British Resident in Pahang. He states that his purpose is to illuminate the nature of the people of the peninsula for the benefit of fellow Europeans who have not bothered to get to know them as well as he has done. 264 pages. Good Hardback Originally published in 1898.  

At the time this book was originally published in 1865, Cameron was the editor of the Straits Times in Singapore. He set out to demonstrate the importance of the colony to Britain, so most of the book is devoted to describing the island, its people and activities some 50 years after the arrival of the British East India Company there. There are also sections on Penang and Melaka. Very Good Hardback. Reprint. 408 pages with an introduction by Wang Gungwu and 7 aquatint and colour plates

Malaysia & Singapore - Literature

The book's title could be misleading since it could imply that the book is about the use of the Malay language in English literature, which it is not. Instead the authors review novels, plays, short stories and non fiction to establish how Malay characters are portrayed by the authors who are from all the major ethnic groups in both countries. New Paperback. First Edition 55 pages. 

Malaysia & Singapore - Magic & Popular Religion

If you want to discover where to find ghosts in Singapore, whether a mix of durians and alcohol is deadly or where to find good luck in the city, all the answers and many more are here. Near Fine Paperback. 92 pages with some colour photographs.

Malaysia & Singapore - Malay Community & Culture

The author, who was the most senior civil servant in Sarawak and later leader of the Opposition in the state, introduces the reader to his birthplace, the district of Kalaka in Sarawak. His main contention is that approximately 90% of the district's inhabitants live below the poverty line because there is little change in 'the root causes...deep in the Malay Mind and their weak leadership qualities.' Near Fine Paperback. Revised Edition. 370 pages with a colour map and some black and white plates.

Orang Asli/Indigenous Peoples

The authors set out to describe the way of life of the Batek, one of the last remaining groups of hunter gatherers in Southeast Asia. They hope that the book will not only benefit other outsiders, but also future generations of Batek, as their traditional way of life changes. The research on which this book is based was carried out mainly in the mid-1970s, but has been updated to 2004. Very Good Paperback  163 pages including a list of references and * a 37 minute DVD 'The Batek: Rainforest Foragers of Kelantan, Malaysia' showing the way of life described in the book.

This account of the Negrito aborigines of Malaysia, some 50 years after its publication, was still  the only description of the people made by someone who had actually lived with them extensively. Schebesta, a theologian, gives an account of the Negrito religion that has seldom been bettered and was the first person to identify distinctly separate groups within the wide 'Negrito' definition that had been employed earlier. The book remains essential reading for those wanting to familiarise themselves with Orang Asli culture in the cou
ntry. Good. Hardback. First English Language Edition  288 pages with 142 illustrations, mainly black and white plates, but also some line drawings, plates and a fold out map 

This book brings together the results of four decades of research amongst the Semai aboriginal people of Malaysia. The Semai are reputed to be the most peaceful people in the world. Knox Dentan seeks to apply the mechanisms used by the Semai to make suggestions as to how other societies could benefit from their example. Very Good Paperback. 277 pages with a bibliography and an index. Very Good Paperback. Reprint. Originally published in 2008


An interesting exercise. A group of photographers set out to capture snippets of Penang life on the last day of the 20th century. What results is a collection of snaps, mainly of the island's citizens going about their lives, at various points of the day leading up to midnight. Bilingual in Chinese and English. 150 pages with many black and white photographs. New Paperback. First Edition. 

Malaysia & Singapore - Photography

This collection of the work of the Lee Brothers, King Yan and Poh Yan, is extracted from some 2,500 photographs in the possession of the Singapore National Archives, their largest single collection of photographic portraits. The brothers, in their studio in Hill Street, left behind a stunning record of middle class Singapore on show from this period. Although the subjects are mainly Chinese, there's a fair sprinkling of other races showing off their seriousness and finery as well. Sadly these photographs came from an age when the photographer did not tell the subject to say 'Cheese!' for  there's barely a smile through out the book. 127 pages including the historian, Gretchen Liu's, introduction.

Malaysia & Singapore - Politics

This trenchant critique of Government policy, originally published more than 30 years ago, is as telling today as it was then. The author, who has a political service longer than any prime minister of the country since independence, not only concentrates on what he sees needs to be put right, but has suggestions on how to do it. The work is divided into four sections looking in turn at 1- Nation Building, Democracy and Corruption, 2- The New Economy Policy, Malaysian Plans and Budget, 3 - Human Rights and Constitutional Guarantees & 4 - Education and Labour. Very Good Paperback. Second Edition. With a Special Commentary on the 1978 General Elections 346 pages.

Although the 1MDB scandal catapulted Malaysia into the world headlines, the authors of this book claim that Government corruption has a solid pedigree in the country. One of the authors was a former Chairman of the Port Klang Authority and details in this book how he attempted to bring to book the culprits who benefitted from the mysterious quadrupling of the budget for the Port Klang Free Zone. (PKFZ) To date no one has been convicted for the crimes described in this book. Very Good Paperback. First Edition. 218 pages with a few colour photographs

Although Najib Razak, Malaysia's sixth prime minister, ended his term in scandal, his first 100 days in office saw him with high approval ratings after introducing several new measures. The first half of the book contains the author's assessment of his performance in all major areas including finance, foreign policy and managing the parties in Government and the second part consists of 14 guest essays from prominent p[political commentators. Ooi Kee Beng's essay ends with the prophetic words, 'Sometime soon, he will have to confront the key issue of corruption and break the back of the culture of corruption endemic in Malaysia's key institutions...' Near Fine Paperback. First Edition. 163 pages 

A collection of writings from one of Malaysia's prominent political activists. Very Good paperback. First Edition. 158 pages. 

Issue No 3 of Contributions to Southeast Asian Ethnography. Please see scanned contents page for further details. Very Good Paperback. First Edition. 114 pages. 

The author, a transport enthusiast, continues what must be the most comprehensive history of public transport on the island during this period. The period starts with the malgamation of various bus companies and ends with the advent of the Mass Rapid Transit system, the MRT 202 pages . Near Fine Paperback. 

Malaysia & Singapore - World War II

For the first time the author gives a comprehensive account of an under reported series of events during the Japanese occupation of Malaya. At the time of the fall of Singapore several Catholic families, mainly Chinese and Eurasian, fled to Bahau in Negeri Sembilan as a refuge from the upheaval of the war. Through research of written records and conversations with survivors, who included her mother, Hodgkins has managed to piece together an unusual story of this group. New Paperback. First Edition. 266 pages with an index.

While most published accounts of the fall of Singapore in 1942 and subsequent Japanese occupation focus on the fate on Allied civilian and military personnel, this collection of accounts makes a refreshing change. Here we have a collection of accounts from those who bore the brunt of the Japanese presence throughout the war, the ordinary people of the city. A list of familiar names, Elizabeth Choy, Othman Wok and Goh Sin Tub, tell their stories of drudgery, heroism and torture as do many others not so well known. Near Fine Paperback. First Edition. 302 pages 


Although the Venus Fly Trap might be the best known carnivorous plant, it is not a native of Southeast Asia, where most of such plants are pitcher plants or Nepenthes. Nevertheless in this book the author, an experienced moderator of internet forums on the subject, provides masses of useful information as to how a whole range of these plants can be cultivated both indoors, on balconies or in gardens. New Paperback First edition. 115 pages with many colour photographs and an index.

Latah, an exaggerated response to being startled by an unexpected event or suggestion, is a phenomenon that has been observed among the peoples of the Malay archipelago. It has long been considered to be an illness or syndrome. Winzeler, a noted, anthropologist reviews the literature on the subject and reports on the attitudes of communities where latah is prevalent. to conclude that past characterisations of latah have not always been accurate. New Paperback. Reprint. Originally published in 1995. 172 pages with tables, maps, a bibliography and an index.

This fascinating study was originally written for the Japanese occupying forces in Southeast Asia during the Second World War. The purpose was for the Japanese to better understand this generally hostile community in their territories. It gives a picture of the Chinese diaspora at the conclusion of the last major wave of emigration from China. New Paperback. 168 pages with a bibliography.

Vittachi, an award winning journalist, coined the term 'Brown Sahib' to refer to the nationalist leaders who took over in former British colonies. He noticed that they struggled with being virulently critical of the former colonists while aping British behaviour and traditions in the home and ensuring their children were educated in British schools. He argues that this schizophrenic mindset did not bode well for the expectant people entrusted to their charge. Good Hardback. First Edition. 127 pages

Bennabi was one of the foremost intellectuals in the Muslim world in the 20th century. This book summarises his philosophical and sociological thought offering not only a critique of Muslim politics and intellectuals, but also stating what he believed should be the basis of human society and civilisation. New Paperback. 174 pages with a bibliography and an index. 

A catalogue accompanying an exhibition of examples of Islamic calligraphy from the Tareq Rajab Museum in Kuwait held at the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore. The book is divided into two parts covering firstly examples of calligraphy in manuscripts and then examples on pottery, metalwork and textiles. 120 pages with many colour photographs. Very Good Paperback. Reprint. 

A catalogue to an exhibition of ancient textiles significant in the cultural, political and religious lives of Southeast Asia. New Paperback. 65 pages with many colour photographs of the the exhibits. 


A fascinating history of an emigrant community, told through the biographies of several of its members, The community arrived in Shanghai from the mid 19th century onwards, fleeing persecution in the Ottoman empire. They established businesses there and were an important part of life in the city. Although they dispersed a century later, with the rise of Communism, a Jewish community, with an active synagogue, is still thriving there. New Paperback. First Edition. 480 pages with some black and white photographs, a map and an index. 


An exhibition catalogue of traditional cloths formerly used by the people of southern Lampung in Sumatra to depict life events. Many black and white and seven colour plates. Near Fine Paperback. First Edition. 48 pages with a map.

Sri Lanka

A guide to walks beside temples, tanks and paddy fields, in estates, by the sea and in cities in the early morning. Good Paperback. 52 pages with three pull out maps and two other maps and line drawings. 

Davy was a medical officer attached to the British army at the time when British rule was extended into the interior of the island. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Davy was not only interested in the scenery and superficial behaviour of the inhabitants he met, but also in the structure and nature of society, its religion and customs. So his memoirs remain one of the most thorough descriptions of the last stages of traditional Kandyan culture. Good Paperback in a Good Dust Jacket. Reprint. Originally published in 1821 399 pages with a a few colour plates, some line drawings and an index.