Malay Film Legend Aziz Sattar dies


May 6, 2014

Malay Film Legend Aziz Sattar dies

by Bernama

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Malay Film Legend Abdul Aziz Sattar, 89, passed away at Kajang Hospital early today following a heart attack.

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The actor and comedian, unforgettable in his role in the Bujang Lapuk movie series, died at 2am, according to his daughter, Sandakiah. Abdul Aziz acted together with the legendary P Ramlee and the late S Shamsuddin as the Bujang Lapuk trio in the 1950s.

His remains were brought to his residence in Bandar Tun Hussein Onn, Cheras before burial at the Cheras Perdana Muslim cemetery after Zohor prayers this afternoon.

 

The Faithful Aide: Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu


April 18, 2014

The Faithful Aide: Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu

by Bernama

Karpal

The name Michael Cornelius Selvam Vellu may not be as famous as the man he was serving – renowned lawyer Karpal Singh – but his sacrifice will remain in the annals of Malaysian history for his devotion to his boss.

It would be suffice to say that Michael was literally the man behind Karpal, since the 39-year-old, would push his boss around in his wheelchair wherever he went, including to Parliament.

Bukit Gelugor MP and former DAP chairman Karpal Singh, 73, died in a car accident on the North-South Expressway this morning near Gua Tempurung, Kampar together with his long-serving personal assistant Michael.

Karpal’s daughter Sangeet Kaur Deo said Michael was a “faithful servant to his master” and stayed with him even in death.

Hailing from Vellore, Tamil Nadu in southern India, Michael leaves behind a wife, a son and a daughter while his body is expected to be flown back to India for burial. – Bernama, April 17, 2014.

OBITUARY by Steve Oh

The Tiger of Jelutong will roar no more as a sombre silence falls upon Malaysia at the death of a loved son.

News of the sudden tragic death of veteran DAP leader, parliamentarian and litigation lawyer Karpal Singh has sent shockwaves across the country and fans of the affable Karpal around the world into a state of mourning.

His admirers are found everywhere, those who respected and loved this rare individual and irreplaceable man, the true ‘people’s politician’ and a lawyer for those with lost hope and a last resort for justice, who defended the underdogs and victims of injustice. They all, friends and strangers alike, will be in silent grief and like I feel, a sense of  loss and grieve with Karpal’s family.

Who would have imagined a man who has saved so many lives from the gallows, from convicted drug offenders to a condemned 14-year-old Chinese boy convicted for possession of a firearm, who survived a car accident that confined him to a wheelchair since 2005, would succumb to a horrific vehicle collision on the North-South Expresswayway at 1.30am while all of us were safe and sound asleep.

The man who took seven years to finish his law studies because he was ‘playful’ by his own admission, who showed early signs of political prowess while a student leader at the University of Singapore, leaves behind a gap that no one can fill.

Though dead, Karpal will still speak through the legacy he left behind. We all die some day but it is what we live for that we will be best remembered, unless you are Jesus Christ whose death and resurrection remembered this Easter weekend is the rare exception.

Karpal, the man of struggle for justice, lived a life of struggle for others. His was not a life in vain pursuit and personal aggrandisement but for the social justice he believed in and fought for others in a country that denied basic justice to all that fell foul of those in power and dysfunctional and corrupt public institutions and politicians. The political ideals of justice he stood for will be the nation’s living inheritance.

Defender of the defenceless

Karpal’s tenacity to see justice done was evident when he laboured on to clear Australian Kevin Barlow of his drug trafficking conviction even after his execution.

This defender of the defenceless, often ‘the little man’, and ‘a friend to the oppressed and marginalised’ as he was renown, lived for the country he loved and at a time when someone of his age should have been in bed at home and asleep, he was instead on his way to Penang to attend court, presumably, to defend someone and was killed in the course of duty.

He died as he lived – striving for someone regardless of race, religion or rank. He lived out his convictions and proved he was no mere talker but doer. To my mind, Karpal is a national icon and a national hero, a paradigm of national character – the ultimate and unrivalled battler for all Malaysians and a better country.

He has not lived to see his vision realised and hope deferred makes the heart sick. Those who loved him must do more for without him the load becomes heavier, the hill steeper and the challenge more formidable.

But if Malaysians have his heart for justice, nothing will stand in their way and they will triumph as overcomers of evil and corruption, and Karpal would have been happy and proud.

Malaysia would have been a worse place without Karpal and those drunk with power would have succeeded in their excessive ways and got away unchallenged with their abuses of power if he had not been there to check them by his intrepid acts of political and personal bravery.

His parliamentary life was colourful and controversial and when you have many parliamentarians suffering from ‘foot in mouth’ disease, it was not surprising he once aptly called an offensive fellow parliamentarian, “the bigfoot from Kinabatangan”. He received as much as he gave.

His life and career should be studied by all aspiring Malaysians and even my father who once in siding with the late Penang chief minister Dr Lim Chong Eu, as his political party stalwart and friend, had expressed a moment of disdain for  Karpal in the 70s but was immediately saddened when I broke the news to him.

Like many of us, he had been won over by Karpal’s acts of selfless service to the people over the ensuing years. Undaunted, Karpal laboured and remained true to the same cause and far be it for us to desert him in his death. We must put our hands to the cart that Karpal and all civic-minded Malaysians had pushed all these years.

He was a “capable and clever man”, my father lamented. And I know who he would have voted for had Karpal stood in his electorate. Our sense of justice should outweigh the affiliation to any group or anyone who is unjust. We betray ourselves when we dampen our conscience to injustice.

But more than the activist he was, Karpal was a man who stood up for principles however unpopular and did not capitulate to political expediency or compromised his convictions. This he proved consistently in his stand against his country being turned unconstitutionally into Mahathir Mohamad’s queer idea of a political Islamic state in flagrant contempt of the country’s secular constitution.

That was classic Karpal. And above all, he never sold himself to the highest bidder in a country ruined by the corruption he often lambasted. He was the honest fighter, he fought in the open ring of political combat with no holds barred, unlike those who claim to fight the fight in the arms of the powers-that-be ‘from within’ and be seduced by their courts of pleasure and become virtually ineffective.

How can we honour his memory?

What is Karpal’s legacy to us all? How can we honour his memory as he would have liked? What is the best way to vindicate all that Karpal stood and lived for? How do we keep it going for the man who started it all, who made opposition politics the crucial preparation for government?

We all individually and collectively must focus on what matters most – the deliverance of justice – the heartbeat of Karpal’s life and labour – to all Malaysians and deliver the country from its bondage to corruption and abuse of power.

In a nutshell we all, whoever or wherever we are, regardless of our backgrounds, must strive for the political and social change that Karpal gave his life to seeing when he went into politics to save his country.

Anything short of a change in a government that Karpal gave his life to achieve would be seen by him as a betrayal to the vision of a just and free Malaysia.  Karpal saw his country in this pernicious grip.

A corrupt government is bad governance and bad governance means suffering and strife for the country. Bad governance is anathema to all citizens and corrupt politicians are the collective public enemy and bane of the nation. Karpal did not say those exact words but better still he lived out his life to destroy the malaise described.

Karpal started life in Penang and began his double vocation in law and politics with an innate sense of justice. His passion saw him get into trouble with those who had become the people’s enemies by their immoral and unjust conduct.

The son of a humble Punjabi watchman and part-time herdsman, whose father emigrated to Penang from India in 1920, he believed there will be no justice until Malaysia is a country where everyone is treated equally under the law.

He believed in the DAP’s ‘Malaysian Malaysia’ political dogma and extolled the country’s first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman for promoting racial unity. He criticised the special impunity of the hereditary rulers under the original constitution that were subsequently removed.

He put conviction into action by throwing himself into politics in 1970 after the May 13, 1969 riots. I  had the privilege of meeting Karpal at the state funeral of the late Dr Lim Chong Eu. It was a fleeting moment, he gave me a smile, and I shook his hand, as he was pushed past by in his wheelchair, and in that passing moment I was able to intuitively see what a kind and generous person he was, as first impressions can sometimes prove true and lasting.

There was none of the air of self-importance that I find in other dignitaries and politicians I have met and as with the late Irene Fernandez, I regret not having made the effort to learn more about a fellow Penangite and great human being and to spend time to get to know more of such a rare personage.

Who would not have benefitted from meeting someone of Karpal’s stature, to learn from his struggles and achievements? I hope someone will do a story of his life in documentary as a public service to all Malaysians.

No one can do him harm

In the ensuing days, the accolades and obituaries will flow and none will do justice to a true son of the nation who was unfairly and cruelly imprisoned under the notorious now repealed ISA, charged for sedition several times, and even threatened with a silver bullet in a death threat.

The vicissitudes in the life of Karpal who has dared to sue a Malaysian king, a sultan and just about anyone in the public interest has resulted in a man we can salute with utter pride and admiration. Without fear or favour is a phrase reserved for a man like him.

Karpal is no more in the political arena. He leaves a couple of sons in politics to soldier on. But he leaves his nation the priceless legacy of a true patriot, a true son of the nation, and a true lawyer beyond the call of the written law and elusive justice.

Indeed Karpal to many of us will be the missing ‘towering Malaysian’ that cannot be found in the government that coined the phrase.

His incomparable life in law and politics has no equal in Malaysia and indeed there ought to be a Hall of Fame for the sons and daughters of the country like him.

He may be known as the ‘Tiger of Jelutong’ having served that constituency for five terms but his life and achievements are larger than such a parochial title, given him after he told MIC’s S Samy Vellu, “he could be the lion, and I could be the tiger, because there are no lions in Malaysia.”

No lions indeed except in the zoo.
 
Karpal is the ‘Tiger of Justice’ and his life given to seek justice for his clients and his country has earned him a place in history that will stay with us forever.

The nation weeps with Karpal’s family but we are comforted that his enemies can do him no more to harm or spuriously charge him in court and send him to prison unjustly. Karpal Singh lived for Malaysia.

Let Malaysians remember him and honour him by making justice flow like a river and deliver the country from its bondage to corruption and injustice. That must be his living legacy – the passion to seek justice for the nation and something for all Malaysians to emulate.


STEVE OH is author and composer of the novel and musical ‘Tiger King of the Golden Jungle’.

The passing of a good friend and fellow Malaysian, Bernard “Zorro” Khoo


April 4, 2014

The passing of a good friend and fellow Malaysian, Bernard “Zorro” Khoo

I was deeply saddened to learn from  another good friend and great Malaysian sportsman and former All England Badminton Champion, Dato’ Yew Cheng Hoe, of the passing of my dear friend and fellow blogger, Bernard Khoo this afternoon of cancer.

Bernard and I became close friends when we, Haris Ibrahim, and Raja Petra Kamaruddin were active civil society activists in the 2007-2008 period with our friends in Pakatan Rakyat; we participated in the first BERSIH protest in early November, 2007, travelled throughout the country except Sabah and Sarawak during the 2008 Election campaign and kept in touch on regular basis, exchanging views and ideas which I often used for my blog.

A very special man, that great English teacher from La Salle, Sentul, Kuala Lumpur is today no longer with us; but to those who were privileged to know him Bernie will remain in our hearts. According to one of his former pupils, Nelson Fernandez who owns and runs his own advertising and PR agency, Bernie was an excellent English and History teacher and an outstanding football coach who bonded well with his wards.

Bernie-Zorro

I was among the first to know from him personally of his health problem. He endured his suffering with dignity, and was always optimistic about the future of our country and ever willing to help the underdog. He never ceased to remind me that we must never give up.

“Do it for our grandchildren, Din”, he said. Well, Bernie, we will soldier on, although you have returned to the Lord, because like you, we cannot allow our wonderful and great country go to waste because of incompetence, corruption and abuse of power.

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My wife, Dr. Kamsiah and wish to express our sincere condolences to his wife and bereaved family. We intend to attend his funeral services on Monday, April 7, 2014 at the St Ignatius Church, Taman Plaza, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.–Din Merican

Irene In Memorium


April 2, 2014

Irene Fernandez: Champion of the Helpless and the Explioted

by Steve Oh (April 1, 2014)@http://www.malaysiakini.com

OBITUARY: A beacon of hope is extinguished and Malaysia is a darker place for its irreplaceable loss. News of the passing of Tenanganita Co-founder and Director Irene Fernandez was not what I had expected to read in Malaysiakini yesterday.

Irene F

I am saddened by the death of a remarkable and irreplaceable woman, a towering and selfless Malaysian who devoted her life to helping the helpless, comforting the exploited and soothing the wounds of the tortured in a once bright place that is blackened by corruption and that has lost its way.

Often she faced insurmountable odds against the might of the powers-that-be and its institutions of persecution. The political tyrants made life unfairly difficult for this intrepid, irrepressible and humble Malaysian ‘Joan of Arc’ of maltreated migrants and repressed refugees in her country.

It is incredible how such an amazing woman who spoke out for the voiceless and right-less can be charged in court for doing good for others, and it is an indictment of ourselves that we allowed the good to be called evil and the evil good and Irene to be bullied by those who abuse their powers and disgrace their humanity and country.

It is hard to speak of Irene without recalling the hostile environment where the authorities are unwilling to be scrutinised and held accountable for their deeds. She overcame the untold hardships she suffered at the hands of the overbearing authorities that had harassed her.

I first learned of this amazing woman some years ago when news of her court case emerged in the local newspapers and Malaysiakini. This unassuming and soft-spoken woman had been unfairly persecuted and prosecuted for her role in highlighting the plight of migrant workers.

It was the irony of her plight and her unwavering commitment to her cause and forbearance under unfair persecution that earned her a place in my heart. She was my hero not found among men in her ‘jihad’ for the unjustly treated. When proud men pursued gain and glory,  this woman of women chose to side with the poor and oppressed.

Twisted persecution

Malaysiakini co-founder Steven Gan, then a reporter for The Sun, and his colleagues had in 1995 written an incriminating report of the government on 59 primarily Bangladeshi inmates who had died of preventable and treatable diseases such as typhoid and beri beri at the Semenyih immigration detention camp.

The Sun had refused to publish the damning report so Gan turned to Irene who published information from it under the title, ‘Abuse, Torture and Dehumanised Conditions of Migrant Workers in Detention Centres’ and for that she was hounded for the rest of her life by the government.

She was arrested and charged in 1996 with “maliciously publishing false news” and found guilty in 2003 after a seven-year trial. But her trials, courtesy of the government, continued outside the court. They are well-documented in local newspapers and even some outside.

In this sort of twisted persecution when politicians abuse their powers in government to prosecute the innocent who help others against the politically connected, Irene is no different from Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng when he was jailed for not dissimilar reasons.

As with Opposition leaders Anwar Ibrahim and Karpal Singh, what Irene’s political enemies could not achieve in the popularity stakes, they did by using the court to hamper her attempt to attain political office by turning her into a criminal, thus disqualifying her from running for Parliament.

While the wielders of power in darkness tried to tarnish her name, the enlightened world saw differently, and she was chosen in 2004 to receive a Right Livelihood Award, also referred to as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize.’

A woman not filled with bitterness

I have met Irene twice, and regrettably, not more. The first was when my wife and I saw her in her office in Petaling Jaya when we visited Kuala Lumpur. My wife, a medical doctor, had always been interested in the plight of sex slaves and wanted to find out more from her about the subject.

Some months later, Irene and her husband and son were sitting in front of me as we shared dinner in a Chinese restaurant in Perth. I had asked her to give me a call when she visited her son in Perth and she did. Then I noticed that Irene had looked frail and had trouble walking and used a walking stick as aid.

During our dinner, my wife and I learned more about her work. I got a greater insight into her work and role and I remember a woman not filled with bitterness or one would expect to be full of acrid remarks for her cruel persecutors and political enemies after all the injustices she had been put through.

Instead she merely stated what was true regarding the plight of the migrants, what they were up against, and even in such normal discourses, it is difficult not to note the injustice of all she had undergone. But Irene had shown no ill-will toward her cruel persecutors and our conversation was about those who she helped.

She overcame what her persecutors had dished out to her and with her passing, the plight of the refugees becomes more urgent with the need for more people to stand behind the work of Tenanganita she began.

I had learned much from our brief time together and if I have regrets in life, surely one must be in failing to follow up with Irene because we were overtaken by other pressing things and soon lost touch with her.

As I write, I recall the strength of this remarkable woman in whose stoic countenance were etched the sufferings of a saintly woman, sufferings not the fruit of personal making but from helping the helpless in their pitiful plight. The troubles and sorrow of the suffering became as much hers. I was with greatness and regret not having realised it.

A life of many trials

Malaysia came to its senses when on November 24, 2008, justice Mohd Apandi Ali overturned Irene’s conviction of ‘maliciously publishing false news’.

For 13 years since her arrest and charging in 1996, Irene had lived a life of many trials, her passport was held by the court, she could not stand for parliament in 2004, and was the subject of many police visits to her office and questioning.

Yet I had observed she had not been shy in making timely and relevant comments when needed on the plight of migrant workers and refugees. In a place where many are cowed and timid, Irene roared like a lioness without fear and favour, and political correctness was not in her vocabulary.

In her quiet dignified manner, she seemed a tower of insurmountable strength on an unshakeable urgent mission. In fact, I see in her a regal quality that only great  people like Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa display. Such people of conviction are rare these days.

Malaysia has many women of noble character who make their country a better place. They are the salt of the nation. Irene stood tall among them, if not above most, and has left a legacy that will be a challenge to match, if at all possible.

With other Malaysians and those who have been beneficiaries of her compassion and commitment, I share the grief of the passing of a great Malaysian and I know would have been a great friend had we had not let that opportunity slip.

My wife and I pass on our condolences to Irene’s family. Good night, Irene, good night – see you in the morning.

The Passing of Nelson Mandela


December 6,2013

The Passing of Nelson Mandela

I sent the following message to the Nelson Mandela Foundation this morning upon hearing on the wires of the passing of this great South African:

I am sad to learn this morning of the passing of this great man, Father Madiba. Like Gandhi, his precursor in South Africa, he will live forever in the memories of men who love freedom, justice and non-discrimination.  To Machel (Graça Machel), his family and descendents, my wife, Dr Kamsiah and I wish to express our sincere condolences.-Din Merican, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Nelson Mandela: Obituary

Nelson Mandela, who has died aged 95, was the architect of South Africa’s transformation from racial despotism to liberal democracy, saving his country from civil war and becoming its first black President

Nelson Mandela 'loves US beauty pageant reality TV show'

 
 11:02PM GMT 05 December 2013

Read the story of Mandela’s tempestuous life, filled with hardship and struggle and crowned by a singular triumph, in the Telegraph’s seven-part obituary.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/nelson-mandela/10115323/Nelson-Mandela-obituary.html

David Frost dies aged 74


September 2, 2013

David Frost dies aged 74

Journalist and broadcaster famed for interviewing US president Richard Nixon in the 1970s dies after suffering heart attack

by Peter Walker

The Guardian, Sunday 1 September 2013 11.42 BST

Sir David Frost, the journalist and broadcaster whose lengthy career stretched from cutting-edge 60s satire to heavyweight interviews and celebrity gameshows, has died of a heart attack on a cruise ship, his family said.

The 74-year-old, whose programmes included That Was The Week That Was and The Frost Report, was to have given a lecture on board the Queen Elizabeth, which had just set sail on a Mediterranean cruise.

Frost boarded the ship at Southampton on Saturday afternoon, and had been due to speak to passengers en route to Lisbon.

Frost, who was knighted in 1993, helped establish London Weekend Television and TV-am. He was famed for his political interviews, most notably with Richard Nixon in 1977, in which the US president conceded some fault over Watergate for the first time.

A family statement said: “Sir David Frost died of a heart attack last night aboard the Queen Elizabeth where he was giving a speech.

“His family are devastated and ask for privacy at this difficult time. A family funeral will be held in the near future and details of a memorial service will be announced in due course.”

David Frost and Richard Nixon in 1977 David Frost and Richard Nixon in April 1977. Photograph: John Bryson/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

David Cameron, who sent a tweet of condolence, released a statement expressing his sympathies to Frost’s widow, Carina, and his wider family.

He said: “Sir David was an extraordinary man – with charm, wit, talent, intelligence and warmth in equal measure. He made a huge impact on television and politics. The Nixon interviews were among the great broadcast moments, but there were many other brilliant interviews. He could be, and certainly was with me, both a friend and a fearsome interviewer.”

Michael Grade, who knew and worked with Frost for more than 30 years, called him “a huge figure in the history of British broadcasting”.

Grade told the Guardian: “He was the first real superstar of the screen who was purely and simply a product of television. Secondly, he had an amazing business skill. He was a performer, a journalist, an impresario and an entrepreneur. That’s given to very, very few people.”

Grade added: “He was kind of a television renaissance man. He could put his hand to anything. He could turn over Richard Nixon or he could win the comedy prize at the Montreux Golden Rose festival. It was just extraordinary.”

Peter Jay, who founded TV-am alongside Frost, told BBC News: “On the screen he was a very talented and original performer, but it was his talent off-screen, his quality as a human being, his capacity for friendship and loyalty, that were in my opinion the thing that raised him to quite an exceptional level.”

Sir David Frost David Frost in 1964. Photograph: George Konig/Rex Features

Greg Dyke, the former BBC director general who worked with Frost, rescuing the initially struggling TV-am, described him as “a great, great friend”. He said: “He understood the whole breadth of television, so he wasn’t just a news and current affairs man, he could also be an entertainment man, so he knew it all.”

Loyd Grossman, who worked with Frost on TV-am and then on the long-running ITV gameshow Through the Keyhole, called him irreplaceable.

Grossman told Sky News: “He was almost the most variously talented journalist in British broadcasting history. His loss will be immense to all of us. He was also an incredibly generous broadcaster to work with.”

Other tributes stressed the same point, that Frost’s sometimes mocked and seemingly cosy interviewing style was in fact one of his strongest attributes.

Tony Blair said: “He had an extraordinary ability to draw out the interviewee, knew exactly where the real story lay and how to get at it, and was also a thoroughly kind and good-natured man. Being interviewed by him was always a pleasure, but also you knew that there would be multiple stories the next day arising from it.”

Sir Michael Parkinson, a friend for 40 years, said Frost was “an extraordinary guy”. He said: “When you think of all the stuff he was responsible for, never mind the Nixon interview and the two television companies he helped set up too, it’s remarkable.

“But it’s not right to say he was a ‘soft’ interviewer. He had a totally persuasive interview style which led to the unmasking of a scoundrel.”

In a Guardian interview in 2008, Frost discussed his style. “I think there’s a danger when you adopt an immediately hostile position without having the goods, without having the smoking gun. I think that’s a real mistake,” he said. “You shut people up instead of opening them up. You can ask just as tough a question in a softly spoken way.”

Sir David Frost Sir David Frost in 1966 on The Frost Programme. Photograph: ITV/Rex Features

Blair was among an unbroken line of British Prime Ministers from Harold Wilson to David Cameron interviewed by Frost. Frost interviewed every US President from Richard M Nixon to George W Bush.

The Kent-born son of a Methodist minister, Frost turned down a possible football contract with Nottingham Forest to attend Cambridge University, where he was active in student journalism and secretary of the Footlights theatrical revue. From there he became a trainee at independent television before finding fame as the host of That Was The Week That Was, the pioneering TV political satire show.

The programme ran on the BBC during 1962 and 1963, before being cancelled over worries it could unduly influence an upcoming general election. Frost then hosted a US version.

From then on, Frost was a regular TV figure on both sides of the Atlantic, with shows including The Frost Report and Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life. Frost’s distinctive delivery of his catchphrase, “Hello, good evening and welcome,” became instantly recognisable and much mocked.

In later years, Frost hosted the Frost on Sunday talkshow on ITV, before returning to the BBC in 1993 for the first time since the early 1960s for Breakfast with Frost, which ran until 2005.

For many years he also hosted Through the Keyhole, which by coincidence returned to ITV on Saturday night in a revamped format. After Breakfast with Frost ended, the broadcaster made a surprise move to al-Jazeera, where he interviewed political figures.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/sep/01/david-frost-dies-74-heart-attack