Wednesday, February 17, 2016

FBSHApost@13 February 2016: A Brief Account of My Life

         It is not always easy to reminisce on your life long journey, especially when you are relying on your memory. You are uncertain whether it should be a story or a historical account of your achievements or disappointments, the anecdotes of events or incidents that impact or influence the many passages of your life the people you meet and the environment you experience. In my case, we started life as a migrant, performing two important functions as a merchant and as a missionary to bring the message in many distant lands, in almost all the continents of the globe we can find our family with roots starting in Mecca, then Iraq and Hadramaut from where we ventured into South Asia and the Malay world. Everywhere we settled down, we have assimilated well with the local community and generally became an important part of it. In many instances we are no longer distinguishable from the locals. 

         Our story has always been to propagate the religion through examples and good moral values. Lived a life of humility and socialized with the locals to be part of the society and not apart from it. The propagation was undertaken without force or domination but softly and gently until Islam became the religion of the Malay World, except for the Philippines, where Islam was lost through the military and economic might of the Spanish. It was not a religion of the sword but of persuasion and influence.

         This was the story of a few hundred years ago. My paternal grandfather settled in Indonesia and married an aristocratic lady from Sumatra and when they got involved with the struggle against the Dutch, the whole family was exiled to the remote Northern Celebes in the province of Gerontalo and lived in Tondano where my father was born. Due to the hardship and the violent struggle with the Dutch, my grandfather decided to send my father as a teenager with his younger brother to Singapore to my maternal grandfather who was his nephew. 

         My father was determined to complete his education in Singapore. He attended the Madrasah Aljunid until he graduated and became a teacher in the same school. During the Japanese occupation of Singapore, he moved the family to Kedah and after that to Penang. In Penang, here and there three of the family members were busy sabotaging the Japanese communication system. It was here, in Kg Melayu Air Itam, my mother gave birth to me and my younger brother. We are a Johor family but due to circumstances we had to move from Penang to Kelantan where my father became the Principal of the Islah Arabic School before the family moved back to Johor in 1947. My mother was a source of strength to keep the family of six boys and six girls together, as when my father became a writer and journalist, writing on current affairs and politics. His life yoyoed from business to politics before he settled down as a full time employee of UMNO in its infancy with Dato Onn. It was a tough and difficult time but we survived. He was an information officer under Dato Onn and twice became the Secretary General of UMNO under Tunku. He was also a Junior Minister of Information under Tunku. 

             Due to his intent to be independent, he resigned from his ministerial position, became a member of parliament for Kota Tinggi from 1959 to 1977. My mother was his greatest supporter and was beside him, come rain or shine. She was married to my father when she was fourteen. My father was a very open and frank politician who dared to speak out at the grass-root level and even dared to criticise the leadership on national or party issues affecting the Malays. For his courage and steadfastness, he was honoured as the lion of UMNO. He was never a racist, chauvinist or ultra as depicted by the opposition, particularly PAP of Singapore. He could not be so as he was responsible to get support of the Malays for MCA and MIC to be part of the Alliance. He also campaigned hard for Non-Malay candidates in Malay majority constituencies. 

             According to Sambanthan, the MIC leader, he was the most misunderstood politician when it comes to this issue. However, he was not apologetic in speaking out on issues that affect the Malay interest in national politics or the issue of the separation of Singapore from Malaysia. My father being called the ultra is actually the creation of the English and foreign media. My life and the family was underscored by this environment and experience. This is just a brief account.

FBSHApost@13 February 2016

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