Jihad in Paradise Islam and Politics in Southeast Asia by Mike Millard (New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 2004. 155 pages.)

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Muhamad Ali

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Abstract

Jihad in Paradise explores cultural and religious interaction in Singapore and
compares this with the intolerant radical Islamism threatening the country
and Southeast Asia in general. Millard, a senior journalist who first worked
on East Asia and then Southeast Asia, artfully conveys his descriptive yet
analytical narrative of how Southeast Asia underwent radical change due, in large part, to the influence of global and regional terrorism. Meanwhile,
Singapore has yet to move forward by allowing greater political freedom and
developing mutual dialogue and cooperation between its different religious
communities. The Malay minority must also adjust itself to such pragmatic
economic and political climates. Singapore’s future depends on how well it
manages multicultural diversity and balances its economic progress and
political democracy.
The book is divided into six chapters. In his introduction, Millard
observes how Singapore and Southeast Asia were generally prosperous and
peaceful until the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, 9/11, and the 2002 Bali
bombings. He realizes that his book is not an “inside story,” for he regards
himself as only journalist who is deeply interested in human realities and
their regional and global dimensions ...

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