For the love of Malaysia
Belgian Walter François' fascination for this country has resulted in him coming up with four coffeetable books.

To know Malaysia is to love Malaysia. This is exactly the message 63-year-old Belgian Walter François is trying to impart to those who read his coffeetable books on the country. Since 1979, the retired bankerturned-author and photographer has visited Malaysia 59 times and written four coffeetable books that highlight the beauty of this country.

"Earlier, many of my friends, and especially my wife, became suspicious when I kept on visiting Malaysia," recalls François who is from the town of Ghent in Belgium. "They kept asking me if I had fallen in love with someone in Malaysia. My answer was 'saya sudah jatuh cinta dengan Malaysia' (I've fallen in love with Malaysia)."

François, who speaks Malay rather fluently, has been fascinated with Southeast Asia since the age of 18. "It was the fastest growing region, economically," he says. François, who has been in the banking line for 32 years, seized every opportunity to promote the region to his friends, colleagues and employer. Then, he began to go on trips to several countries in this part of the world, such as Singapore, China, Thailand, Hongkong and Indonesia. But it was Malaysia that stole his heart.

The first place he visited was Sarawak, followed by Sabah, and he fell in love with their rustic environment. The two states still hold a fond place in his heart. "I've climbed Mount Kinabalu five times," he says proudly. But he laments that he cannot climb the mountain now due to knee problems.

Earlier, when he learned that his fellow Belgians were ignorant about Malaysia, he took matters into his own hands and started producing coffeetable books on the country. "My desire is to make Malaysia better known in Belgium, and at the same time, for Belgium to be better known in Malaysia," he says.

He feels that his coffeetable books have what it takes to achieve his objectives. His first book was Walter François Presents Malaysia in 2001. It was an instant success and the book was made available worldwide. That motivated him to publish his second book, Walter François Presents Langkawi, in 2005, followed by the third book, Selangor, in 2008.

His latest is Malaysia, Walter's Second Home, which was launched on Dec 14, attended by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The book has 256 pages with 224 astonishing photographs covering 13 states and three federal territories. It took François 18 months to complete the book. "It took me four years to do my first coffeetable book. I had no idea how to write a book and that's why I took so long. Now, I've improved," he says, laughing.

When asked what makes his latest book different from the others, he says: "My first book is only on Kuala Lumpur, Sarawak and Sabah while the second one only covers Langkawi. My third book is on Selangor while the latest covers almost the whole of Malaysia." He also points out that he has picked places that tourist guides do not normally include in their itineraries in his books. "That adds an interesting flavour to those places," he said.

He, however, has no desire to write a book ahout his home country, Belgium, saying that he would prefer a Malaysian to do it. "It's always interesting to see your own country through the eyes of a foreigner," he says. "They will have a different perspective."

Source: The Sun
Date: 19/01/2011
Author: Bissme S.
Arcticle copy (PDF)


Source: The Sun Daily
Date: 20/01/2011
Author: Bissme S.

Other articles:

•  2011/01/28 Former PM launches Book
•  2011/01/19 For the love of Malaysia
•  2011/01/17 Malaysia 'kekasih' Walter (Malay)
•  2011/01/07 Belgian writer launches his fourth book on Malaysia
•  2010/12/30 Wherever you go, have respect!
•  2008/09/19 Walter François: "MaleisiŽ is echt geen apenland" (Dutch)
•  2008/08 Ghent in Kuala Lumpur, a photographic exhibition by Walter François
•  2008/08 Ghent in Kuala Lumpur
•  2008/06/18 Bonding two nations via photographs
•  2007/09/19 From banking to writing
•  2006/11/17 Gemeente Lochristi: Exotische sfeer in gemeentehuis (Dutch)
•  2005/12/27 Walter François's new book on Langkawi
•  2005/12/27 Penulis Belgium hasilkan buku tentang Langkawi (Malay)
•  2005/12/14 Belgian writer's new book On Langkawi out next week
•  2005/11/02 Belgian Banker-turned-author promotes Malaysia through books
•  2002/02 Walter François presents Malaysia
•  2001/06/11 Belgian banker to publish picture book on Malaysia
•  2001/06 Kekaguman warga Belgium terhadap Malaysia (Malay)
•  1999/07/03 Borneo anders bekeken (Dutch)
•  1999/04/28 Pictorial book on two States being compiled
•  1998/06/26 Dok Mungki Walter
•  1997/07 Tentoonstelling 'Borneo 2000' (Dutch)
Preview Gallery
Below a small selection of pictures which are featured in Walter's latest coffee table book. Click on the pictures to see the larger version.