Ordinary folk inspired top economist’s book

Work in progress: Sultan Nazrin glancing through pages of the book with Prof Lin (right) as Cheah looks on at Sunway University.

PETALING JAYA: Writing a book on the world’s troubled times, notable economist Tan Sri Prof Lin See-Yan did not just seek inspiration from academics and executives but people he met at hawker stalls and even his wife’s mahjong pals.

For his third and latest book Trying Troubled Times Amid Trauma & Tumult, Prof Lin said he was driven by the quote by Nobel laureate Linus Pauling – “the best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas”.

And so he spoke to people from diverse backgrounds, from experts and professionals to his students, readers and the man in the street.

“Each chapter (of the book) benefited from my having worked over the years with many academics as well as capable public servants and thoughtful executives.

“I also shamelessly drew on the many ideas of influential writers I admire and renowned international analytical journalists on tough global issues, ” said Prof Lin at the launch of his book by Perak ruler Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah yesterday.

Fresh ideas, he added, also came from his regular weekend visits to hawker and street stalls here and in Kuala Lumpur.

“Their views are usually spontaneous, frank and crude. But I usually get their street-wise message.

“Then there are the views of housewives, including the observations of my wife’s mahjong kaki, ” he said.

Because their perspectives on the world differed from his own, Prof Lin said he found a lot of wisdom in their views.

“And so, their guide in my research has been priceless.”

In his speech, Sultan Nazrin said while it is impossible to predict the future, the country could still manage the unpredictable with good insight from the wise.

“Devastating climate-related events are occurring ever more frequently. Glaring inequalities of income and wealth are increasing. Old and new wars in the Middle East and elsewhere rumble on, adding to the costly toll of human suffering.

“In such challenging times, we are in greater need than ever of the wisdom and insight of learned and astute guides such as Tan Sri Lin.

“So I welcome wholeheartedly the publication of his latest book, ” Sultan Nazrin said at the event at Sunway University here.

The book is the third in a series by the former Bank Negara deputy governor, who also pens the column, What Are We to Do? in The Star’s StarBizweek.

Following on his first two books, The Global Economy in Turbulent Times (2015) and Turbulence in Trying Times (2017), the latest comprises essays divided into four parts – Global Macroeconomics and Currencies: BRICS and Asia; Artificial Intelligence and Robotics; Inequality and Digitalisation; and Governance, Ageing and Climate Change.At the ceremony, Prof Lin, who is also pro-chancellor of Sunway University, presented Sultan Nazrin with the first copy of his book.

Sultan Nazrin then presented copies of the book to several others, including Sunway Group founder and chairman Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah.

The book launch was hosted by the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation and the Harvard Club of Malaysia, and supported by Sunway University, HSBC Corporation Ltd and Pearson Malaysia.

It will be on sale at major bookstores in Malaysia.

Attendees at the launch were also given complimentary copies of the book, in conjunction with Prof Lin’s 80th birthday.

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