Met him only once. Last year at his house in Sec 16 during Hari Raya. He was a shadow his former self. But as the family photos show, he has always been somewhat spare.
Yesterday, stuck in traffic, I got two SMSes, informing me of Pak Samad’s demise. He was hospitalised a couple of weeks ago. He passed away yesterday evening, aged 84.
But Tan Sri Samad Ismail left a legacy. This was a journalist who was never afraid of standing up for what’s right, even if it meant trouble from the authorities.
He was arrested three times…
During the Japanese occupation, he worked with the Japanese-sponsored Berita Malai and became the editor when he was 21.
After the war when the British returned to Malaya, they jailed Samad briefly, in 1946. Later, he returned to Utusan Melayu as an assistant editor.
Samad fought for independence from the British through his writings and met with anti-colonialists of all races, including Indonesian revolutionaries fighting for their own independence against the Dutch.
This led to his second arrest in 1951. When he was released two years later, he rejoined Utusan Melayu and with Lee Kuan Yew, founded the People’s Action Party.
Samad was arrested again in 1976, under the Internal Security Act. He was released in 1981, after which he re-joined the NSTP group as its editorial adviser. He retired from journalism in 1988 and was honoured by the King in 1992.
He was also awarded the title Pejuang Sastera (Literature Champion) for his literary and journalistic accomplishments.
In 1994, he received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communications Arts in recognition of his role in championing national independence, cultural revival and democratic nation building. – The Star
Both were successful journos who today are also well-known in the Malaysian blogosphere. Knowledgeable, principled women who also share their dad’s principles.
Those times are largely gone.
But we Malaysians can honour his legacy by claiming back this country. This country was something he thought was worth fighting for.
I’m reminded of the saying, Harimau mati meninggalkan belang, manusia mati meninggalkan nama.
Rest In Peace, sir.