20 September 2007

Pak Cik reminisces ( Pt 2 ) – 50 years ago – Merdeka (b)

Two weeks after Merdeka I received a letter from a friend in K Terengganu, one of my several very close Chinese classmates in Form 5. Affectionately I called him ‘baba’, otherwise Wee Lian Hong. We were so very close at school that our mothers became friends. He was then about to be sent by his family to Australia to do medicine. Unfortunately, today, fifty years later, he is just one of those who live in my memory. A Dato’, having his own clinic and doing a lot of voluntary services, he passed away four years ago. It is fortunate that I still have in my possession that letter which reads :

Kuala Terengganu
31. 8. 1957

Dear Hassan,

Today is Merdeka Day. The time now is just 20 minutes after midnight. I have just heard ( on radio of course, in the absence of TV then) the last address by the former High Commissioner for the Federation, the National Anthem and the chimes of the clock tower in Kuala Lumpur, and a very short speech by Y.T.M Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Prime Minister now.

------------- The whole town goes gay as the day nears and now decorations are up and no house in Kampong China is without strings of coloured bulbs, flags and buntings. The whole town turns into a holiday resort where people from the ulu and across the river flock to see the bright lights of the festive K.T. -----------------

------------- I met Wan Adnan -------- He is the same old fellow – jovial and still retaining the sense of humour. He is a bit plump though. He may go to UK to do law at Lincoln’s Inn. ----------


That is part of the letter, a voice from the past. Reference is made to a mutual close friend, Wan Adnan. The person is none other than the late Tan Sri Wan Adnan Ismail who passed away while serving as the President of the Court of Appeal. He did go to London as Baba’s letter hinted, and that was a real blessing to me. His presence there saw me visiting London at every available opportunity, to enjoy the company of a familiar face, to mutually compliment each other on how well we could prepare nasi goreng in his rented room, and without fail to do the short walk down the road to Malaya Hall in Bryanston Square. It was always warm and cosy inside that old building no matter how cold the weather was outside. What a joy it was to be among young Malayans, hearing the familiar lingo with ‘lah’, ‘hah’ and all. Smiles were offered generously and in abundance. Everyone was everyone else’s friend 8000 miles from home.

That was fifty years ago. The names Baba and Wan Adnan are recorded in the above letter. They belong to two individuals, decorated and highly respected during their lifetime. Looking back at those happy young days I cannot but be reminded with full humanity of these two individuals. Born and schooled before Merdeka they lived and they served with dedication, honour and dignity in independent Malaysia. They were worthy of being the citizens of independent Malaysia. And so should we all hope to be - kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.


Anonymous said...

Pak Hassan
It was a real pleasure to meet you this afternoon at Alam Akademik. Keep up with the good work, and the reminiscent.

Anonymous said...

hi, new to the site, thanks.