Remembering my contemporary Tom Hayden of the Vietnam War Era

October 24, 2016

Remembering my contemporary Tom Hayden of the Vietnam War Era

by Robert D. McFadden

Tom Hayden, who burst out of the 1960s counterculture as a radical leader of America’s civil rights and antiwar movements, but rocked the boat more gently later in life with a progressive political agenda as an author and California state legislator, died on Sunday. He was 76.

His wife, Barbara Williams, confirmed the death to The Associated Press. Mr. Hayden had been suffering from heart problems and fell ill while attending the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July.

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During the racial unrest and antiwar protests of the ’60s and early ’70s, Mr. Hayden was one of the nation’s most visible radicals. He was a founder of Students for a Democratic Society, a defendant in the Chicago Seven trial after riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and a peace activist who married Jane Fonda, went to Hanoi and escorted American prisoners of war home from Vietnam.

As a civil rights worker, he was beaten in Mississippi and jailed in Georgia. In his cell he began writing what became the Port Huron Statement, the political manifesto of S.D.S. and the New Left that envisioned an alliance of college and university students in a peaceful crusade to overcome what it called repressive government, corporate greed and racism. Its aim was to create a multiracial, egalitarian society.

Like his allies the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who were assassinated in 1968, Mr. Hayden opposed violent protests but backed militant demonstrations, like the occupation of Columbia University campus buildings by students and the burning of draft cards. He also helped plan protests that, as it happened, turned into clashes with the Chicago police outside the Democratic convention.


Tom Hayden after announcing he would run for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate from California in 1976. Credit Walter Zeboski/Associated Press

In 1974, with the Vietnam War in its final stages after American military involvement had all but ended, Mr. Hayden and Ms. Fonda, who were by then married, traveled across Vietnam, talking to people about their lives after years of war, and produced a documentary film, “Introduction to the Enemy.” Detractors labeled it Communist propaganda, but Nora Sayre, reviewing it for The New York Times, called it a “pensive and moving film.”

Later, with the war over and the idealisms of the ’60s fading, Mr. Hayden settled into a new life as a family man, writer and mainstream politician. In 1976 he ran for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate from California, declaring, “The radicalism of the 1960s is fast becoming the common sense of the 1970s.” He lost to the incumbent, Senator John V. Tunney.

But, focusing on state and local issues like solar energy and rent control, he won a seat in the California Legislature in Sacramento in 1982. He was an assemblyman for a decade and a state senator from 1993 to 2000, sponsoring bills on the environment, education, public safety and civil rights. He lost a Democratic primary for California governor in 1994, a race for mayor of Los Angeles in 1997 and a bid for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council in 2001.

He was often the target of protests by leftists who called him an outlaw hypocrite, and by Vietnamese refugees and American military veterans who called him a traitor. Conservative news media kept alive the memories of his radical days. In a memoir, “Reunion” (1988), he described himself as a “born-again Middle American” and expressed regret for “romanticizing the Vietnamese” and for allowing his antiwar zeal to turn into anti-Americanism.

“His soul-searching and explanations make fascinating reading,” The Boston Globe said, “but do not, he concedes, pacify critics on the left who accuse him of selling out to personal ambition or on the right ‘who tell me to go back to Russia.’ He says he doesn’t care.”

“I get re-elected,” Mr. Hayden told The Globe. “To me, that’s the bottom line. The issues persons like myself are working on are modern, workplace, neighborhood issues.”

The revered, saintly and loved His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand has died

October 13, 2016

Note: The late His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej was the First Among Equals of Asia’s monarchs, who was loved and respected by his people. His passing today will be mourned by the Thais.

Dr. Kamsiah Haider and I wish to express our sincere condolences to the members of the bereaved Royal Family, the Government and the People of Thailand including our friends and associates on the passing of their revered and admired monarch.–Din Merican

The revered, saintly and loved His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand has died

Thai people wearing yellow shirts, the color of the king, hold pictures of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej as they pray during the celebrations of the monarch's 70th anniversary 

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, who has died aged 88, was the world’s longest serving constitutional monarch and played a unique role at the centre of national life.

The only Buddhist monarch in the world, King Bhumibol (pronounced Poomipon) was unexpectedly elevated to the throne when just 18 years old on the mysterious death by shooting of his brother Ananda in 1946. At the time, the institution of monarchy in Thailand was at a low ebb. Absolute monarchy had been abolished following a military coup two decades previously, and for the better part of those years no king had been in residence and republican sentiments were strong.

The young Bhumibol had spent most of his life abroad and at the time of his accession was studying at Lausanne University. The new king, a shy, bespectacled, almost withdrawn young man, took the dynastic name Rama IX and became the ninth sovereign of the Chakri dynasty.

Despite these inauspicious beginnings, over the following decades King Bhumibol turned Thailand’s new constitutional monarchy into a resounding success. During years of political turmoil and rapid change which saw numerous coups or attempted coups and more than 20 prime ministers, he was seen as a consistent, selfless presence and symbol of national unity. For most of his reign he was credited with being a moderating influence on corrupt politicians, scheming bureaucrats and ambitious generals; it was only recently that some suspected him of interfering in the political process, to the extent of tacitly endorsing a coup in 2006.

In his first address to the Thai Parliament after his coronation in 1950, the King urged its members to do everything in their power to prevent the entry into Thailand of communism from neighbouring countries. Deeply conservative by nature and with a strong belief in stability and order, he was convinced that improving the lot of the peasants would be the best protection against the spread of communism, and thereafter he devoted himself to that end.

He developed an extraordinary rapport with ordinary Thais, and would spend most of every year traveling between a series of palaces around the country. From these he would lead 40-strong convoys of assorted Jeeps and Land-Rovers down dusty roads deep into the countryside meeting local people, visiting rural projects or entertaining local dignitaries.

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Foreign ambassadors to Bangkok would often be dragged from the capital’s cocktail party circuit to spend days bumping around the outback inspecting drainage schemes. Always the King radiated a curious touching innocence.

There seemed no end to the good works in which King Bhumibol was involved. They ranged from lettuce farms and cottage industries such as silk or cotton weaving to dams, schools, clinics and even rain generation plants. The King himself led development programmes in the poorest parts of the country and funded many of them from his own private funds. Successful projects would be passed on to the government for further development.

His excursions to the further reaches of his kingdom sometimes involved risk. In 1977, during a visit to a southern province, a bomb exploded near the royal entourage, but the King was unharmed. Whenever he traveled near the Laotian or Cambodian borders, a helicopter gunship would circle overhead and large numbers of troops would form a ring of protection on the ground.

The King of Thailand has little direct power under the constitution, but on several occasions Bhumibol used his considerable personal and moral authority to resolve political crises that threatened national stability and to try to inch Thailand nearer to stable democracy.

In 1992, for example, when a bloody cycle of pro-democracy protest and military repression seemed about to spiral out of control, the King summoned General Suchina Kraprayoon, the leader of the junta, and his principal civilian opponent for a late night audience.

In a nationally televised humiliation, the two men crawled on their knees to the feet of King Bhumibol for a royal reprimand: “You have not followed the people,” the King scolded quietly. “You talk democracy but you don’t do anything about it.” In one telling moment, the King defused the confrontation, paved the way for fresh elections and destroyed the two men’s careers.

King Bhumibol took great care to re-create the mystique that had surrounded Thai kings of old and revived ceremonies that had not been used since the time of his grandfather, Rama V. In addition to the title of King, he was revered by ordinary Thais as Strength of the Land, Incomparable Power, Brother of the Moon, Half-Brother of the Son, and Possessor of the Twenty-Four Golden Umbrellas.

He demanded, and usually received, absolute respect from his subjects. Every Thai house contained a prominent photograph of the bespectacled monarch, but it was considered impolite for a commoner’s feet to point directly at the picture. Those meeting the King were expected to do so with heads bowed, on their knees.

But it was not just his good works and popularity that boosted the royal image. That was also protected by a draconian lèse-majesté law which made it an offence punishable by between three and 15 years in jail to “defame, insult or threaten” any member of the royal family. The law was strictly enforced, and as recently as January 2009 an Australian writer was jailed for insulting the monarchy. “The moment you take away the mystique,” King Bhumibol explained, “the moment you expose the institution to the daily scrutiny of the modern media, you’ve had it.”

Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej 

Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej pictured in a wheelchair in April 2015. Credit: EPA/Royal Household Bureau

Prince Somdet Phra Chao Yu Hua Bhumibol Adulayej was born on December 5 1927 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Prince Mahidol of Songkla, half-brother and heir of the last absolute monarch of Thailand, King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) and the younger son of King Chulachomklao (Rama V, reigned 1868-1910).

The Chakri dynasty into which he was born dates back to 1782. Prince Bhumibol’s great-grandfather King Mongkut (King Chomklao, reigned 1851-1868) was splendidly, if inaccurately, brought to life in Anna and the King of Siam and, later, The King and I.

Prince Bhumibol’s father, Prince Mahidol, had married a Siamese commoner and studied to be a doctor. At the time of the birth of Prince Bhumibol, he was studying public health and medicine at Harvard and his wife was studying nursing and economics at Simmons College close by.

Prince Bhumibol was the youngest of the family’s three children, having an elder brother and sister. At the time of his birth, he was several steps removed from succession to the Thai throne, and his elder brother, Prince Ananda, had precedence.

Prince Mahidol died in 1928, when his son was a year old, and the family returned to Thailand where, as a young boy, Prince Bhumibol briefly attended Mater Dei Primary School. But in 1933, following a military coup, King Prajadhipok ordered the family to move to Lausanne, Switzerland. There the Prince attended the Ecole Miremont and the Ecole Nouvelle de la Suisse Romande, Chailly sur Lausanne. Later he enrolled at the Gymnase de Lausanne.

While the family were living in Switzerland, political changes in Thailand started the chain of events that would eventually elevate the young Prince Bhumibol to the throne.

In 1932, following the coup, King Prajadhipok agreed a new constitution that would replace Thailand’s absolute monarchy with a constitutional one, and in 1935 he abdicated the throne in favour of his nephew, Prince Ananda, then 10 years old. The two young princes visited Thailand briefly in 1938-39.

During the greater part of the Second World War, Thailand was controlled by a pro-Japanese puppet government, so that Princes Ananda and Bhumibol did not return there until late 1945, when Prince Ananda went to Bangkok for his coronation.

Before the ceremony could be performed, however, on the morning of June 9 1946 Prince Ananda was found in bed with a bullet in his skull and a revolver by his side. Despite a seven-year murder trial and the execution of three junior palace staff, there has never been a satisfactory explanation of why he died, and the death was officially ruled an accident. A book which suggested that Ananda killed himself because he had been forbidden to marry a Swiss girlfriend was banned in Thailand.

As King Ananda’s brother, Prince Bhumibol was named his successor by Act of Parliament. Two months later, after the legislature had appointed a two-man regency council to rule pending his coming of age, he returned to Switzerland to complete his education.

The young King had planned to become an architect and had enrolled at the University of Lausanne to study Engineering. Following his brother’s death, however, he changed his course to Law and Political Science.

When King Bhumibol attained his majority in December 1946, the Siamese government allocated several hundred thousand dollars for the ceremonial cremation of the remains of King Ananda, a necessary preliminary to the coronation of his successor who was required by religious custom to light the funeral pyre. Unsettled conditions in 1947 following a coup d’état forced a postponement, and court astrologers settled on March 2 1949 as the most auspicious date.

But in October 1948, King Bhumibol was seriously injured in a motor accident in Lausanne which left him blind in one eye and paralysed half his face. Both cremation and coronation had to be postponed once more.

By the time of his coronation, the King had married Princess Mom Rachawong Sirikit Kitiyakara, a great-granddaughter of a former king and thus a distant cousin. In the 1960s she would be described as one of the 10 most beautiful women in the world.

King Bhumipol had first met Princess Sirikit in Paris, where her father was serving as ambassador. She was 15 years old and training to be a concert pianist. While in hospital recovering from the motor accident, King Bhumibol asked to see her and they soon became engaged.

Their wedding, on April 28 1950, was described by The New York Times as “the shortest, simplest royal wedding ever held in the land of gilded elephants and white umbrellas”. The ceremony was performed by the King’s ageing grandmother, Queen Sawang Vadhana.

A week later, on May 5 1950, the formal coronation rites took place in the Baisal Daksin Throne Hall in the Grand Palace. It was the first coronation ceremony of a Thai sovereign to rule under the system of constitutional monarchy.

The royal couple spent their honeymoon at Hua Hin beach in southern Thailand before they returned to Switzerland, where the King completed his studies. They returned to Thailand in 1951.

In 1956 King Bhumibol followed Thailand’s spiritual tradition of entering the Buddhist monkhood of Sangkha for 15 days to practice meditation. He was ordained by the Supreme Patriarch on October 22 at the Royal Chapel of the Emerald Buddha in the Grand Palace.

King Bhumibol remained sensitive to the way in which Thailand is perceived by the outside world. As well as making numerous state visits, he often employed his powers of clemency to secure the release of westerners held in the country’s jails.

He always liked to keep abreast of the latest developments in science and culture. He was an accomplished painter and photographer, and was the first member of the Thai royal family to be granted a patent for an invention. The registered patent is for the Chai Pattana Aerator Model RX 2, an apparatus for water treatment which can be seen operating in many polluted waterways in Thailand.

King Bhumibol was also a writer and musician. He translated several works of literature into Thai. He also composed a number of pop songs, including HM Blues and a little number called Oh I Say! One of his compositions, a beguine entitled Blue Night (with lyrics by the royal chamberlain) was incorporated in the 1950 Broadway revue Peep Show.

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His Majesty King Bhumibol played jazz with Benny Goodman and his band

As King, Bhumibol would serenade the population every Friday night on the saxophone, performing with a jazz group in the studios of the royal radio station. He would also become the first Asian composer to be honoured by being made a member of the Viennese Institute of Music and Arts.

The King had been a keen sportsman, fond of skiing, tennis and diving. A skilled sailor, he once sailed a dinghy single-handed across the dangerous Gulf of Thailand; in 1967 he won a gold medal in dinghy sailing for Thailand at the fourth South-East Asia Peninsula Games.

Although the King continued to be revered by most Thais, the palace had recently come in for some unprecedented, if discreet, criticism. There were allegations that the royal advisers interfered in politics, specifically that they played a part in inspiring the bloodless military coup of 2006 that ousted the democratically elected government of Thaksin Shinawatra, who had been prime minister for five years. In late 2008 both of Bangkok’s airports were closed by anti-government protesters, and in April 2009 100,000 demonstrators demanded the resignation of the King’s chief adviser, General Prem Tinsulanonda, whom they accused of masterminding the 2006 coup – which some believed that the King had privately endorsed. Although implicit rather than explicit criticism of the monarchy, this represented a significant change in the tenor of political debate.

King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit had one son and three daughters who, according to official sources, were all “deeply involved in activities to better the lot of the Thai people and are themselves loved and respected”.

The truth, suppressed in Thailand, was rather different. As a student in America, the King’s eldest daughter, Princess Ubol Ratana, fell in love with an American fellow student and settled in America as plain Mrs Jensen. Her photograph never appears in public in Thailand.

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His son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn (pic above), was widely regarded as a playboy, and rumours about his dissipated lifestyle were legion. After divorcing his first wife, claiming that she spent too much time playing table tennis, he married a commoner by whom he already had teenage children. That marriage too ended when his second wife walked out to live with a retired air marshal in London.

In 1996, on the day his father celebrated 50 years on the throne, the Crown Prince pinned a proclamation on the walls of the Palace accusing his wife of adultery.

The Thai constitution was amended in the 1970s to allow a woman to succeed to the throne, and there were said to be many in Thailand who would have liked to have seen the crown pass to the King’s second daughter, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. In recent years, however, the Crown Prince’s standing has improved as he assumed more of his father’s ceremonial duties.

In October 2007, the king suffered the symptoms of a minor stroke; the following year he was unable to make his traditional annual birthday speech. Rumours around his health persisted over the following years, sometimes affecting the Thai financial markets.

He is survived by Queen Sirikit and their four children. He is succeeded to the throne by HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn.

His Majesty King Bhumbol Adulyadej of Thailand, born December 5 1927, died October 13 2016.–obituary/

Fond Farewell Shimon

October 3, 2016

Fond Farewell Shimonחטיבת פרידה שמעון

by Tom Segev

Shimon Peres, who died Wednesday at 93, was laid to rest as an Israeli prince of peace. Leaders from around the world came to Jerusalem to pay their respects to Israel’s eldest statesman, a defense minister, prime minister, president and more, who ended his long life as a symbol of his country’s quest for reconciliation with the Palestinians.

Mr. Peres certainly would have liked to enter history as a peacemaker, but that’s not how he should be remembered: Indeed, his greatest contributions were to Israel’s military might and victories. Despite his involvement in the Oslo peace process, which earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, along with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was never his primary work.

A close associate and deeply devoted admirer of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding father, Mr. Peres shared his mentor’s conviction that there could be no real peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, at least not for several generations. As Ben-Gurion’s deputy minister of defense, Mr. Peres also held part of the responsibility for the harsh and often arbitrary restrictions that the military imposed on the county’s Arab citizens, including extensive land confiscations.

He was crucial to the development of Israel’s military industry, including some of its most sophisticated weaponry. In the early 1950s, just a few years after Israel declared independence, he concluded that Israel must develop its own nuclear option. He established secret contacts with France to obtain nuclear technology. The nuclear reactor that now sits near the town of Dimona in the Negev Desert is largely thanks to these efforts.


Israeli Defence Minister Shimon Peres (right) addresses Israeli paratroops after the completion of Operation Entebbe, July 1976. Credit Keystone/Hulton Archive, via Getty Images

On matters military and diplomatic alike, Mr. Peres was courageous and imaginative. He was willing to consider and often to risk almost all political, diplomatic and military options, regardless of how fantastic and unrealistic they might be. In 1967, he sought to avoid the Six Day War, anticipating heavy losses for the Israeli army. He reportedly suggested that instead of going to war, Israel should detonate a powerful and extremely noisy device that would scare Egypt, Jordan and Syria out of their plan to attack Israel. He found no support for this scheme, but had it worked it might have significantly altered the events of the last 50 years — avoiding the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

But over the course of his political career, Mr. Peres participated in the oppression of the Palestinians who have been living for nearly half a century under Israeli occupation. In 1975, when he was defense minister, Mr. Peres granted permission to one of the first groups of Israeli settlers to remain in the West Bank. Later, he supported the establishment of several other settlements, laying the first obstacles to the so-called two-state solution.

Over the years, Mr. Peres sent diplomatic feelers to Arab leaders, primarily King Hussein of Jordan, who had been talking secretly with Israeli leaders for decades. In an abortive agreement with the king, Mr. Peres consented in 1987 to end the occupation of the West Bank and put it under Jordanian rule. Later, Jordan and Israel concluded an official peace agreement, while Mr. Peres was foreign minister. The Palestinian issue remained unresolved. And in 1993, as foreign minister, Mr. Peres signed in Oslo the agreement that led to an exuberant ceremony on the White House lawn and gained Mr. Peres the joint Nobel Peace Prize. Oslo faded away; the Palestinian issue remains unresolved.

The rest of the world hailed the Oslo agreement as proof that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be resolved. But within Israel it was, and still is, controversial. The right called Mr. Peres a defeatist for ceding some control of the West Bank, the left called him an expansionist because the agreement didn’t end the occupation. Both sides were not entirely wrong. In fact, Mr. Peres was trying to please everyone, settlers and peace activists alike. That was the story line of his political life.

Even as a powerful politician, Mr. Peres remained an outsider. He was born in Poland as Shimon Persky. He arrived in Palestine at age 11 and immediately set out on a long and painful struggle to become a “New Hebrew,” which the Zionist ideology sought to create in contrast to the diaspora Jew: strong, masculine, upright, courageous and productive. Mr. Peres lived for a while on a kibbutz. He assumed a Hebrew name but he was never able to get rid of his Yiddish accent. And unlike Mr. Rabin and other locally born members of the elite, he did not fight in the 1948 war for independence, something for which veterans looked down on him.

Thus there was something pathetic about Mr. Peres’s attempt to transform himself into “a real Israeli.” For most of his life, he had to endure widespread hatred from his people, and, even worse, mockery. Throughout his career he gave ample reason to associate him with petty party politics and sleazy intrigue. But in reality he was motivated not by a lust for power or by greed, but by an outsider’s desperate quest for his people’s love.

In 2005, Mr. Peres left the Labor Party, which had been his political home, and joined a new party headed by Ariel Sharon, a former general and the epitome of that admirable “New Jew.” The deal brought Mr. Peres the presidency and, finally, the love of almost all Jewish Israelis. It amounted to a biographical miracle. No other Israeli leader had attained that much affection since the assassination of Mr. Rabin.

As President, Mr. Peres was recast as an optimistic father figure, an elder statesman who represented a country devoted to peace and justice. It helped, of course, that the presidency is largely a ceremonial post and Mr. Peres no longer constituted a political threat to anybody. And because he was viewed as a champion of peace, few Israelis resented his objection to proposals to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, preferring negotiations.

It was ironic that Mr. Peres gained in popularity at a time when Israel was losing many of its friends in the world. He remains perhaps the last Israeli many in the rest of the world can still admire as they once admired his country. He died at a time of apparent transition. Not long from now, Israel may once again have to face crucial and painful decisions regarding its future as a Jewish and democratic country. These decisions will require a truly great leader, someone who, unlike Mr. Peres, demands his people’s compliance, not their love.

The Passing of my friend ‘Iron Gate’ Dato’Yusoff Abu Bakar, DSDK

September 9, 2016

I mourn the passing of my friend ‘Iron Gate’ Dato’ Yusoff Abu Bakar, DSDK

by Bernama

The former national goalkeeper, who was also former Alor Setar Prison Director, excelled in the 1958 Merdeka Cup.

Dato’ Yusoff Abu Bakar, a former national goalkeeper in the 1950s, nicknamed the “Iron Gate”, died at 6.15 p.m today at the Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital (HSB) here in Alor Setar due to old age. He was 81.

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Yusoff Bakar as he was when we were growing up together in Alor Setar in the 1950s–Din Merican

His son Yuzaily, 49, said his father had been ill since last year from kidney disease and a lung infection.

“He died with my mother and my siblings by his side. I am saddened by his demise. His death is not only a loss to me but also Malaysian football. He liked to chat and was very generous. However, in the week prior to his death, he was very quiet,” he said when contacted by Bernama.

Yuzaily said his father was admitted to HSB on Tuesday after his condition worsened and his appetite diminished.

‘Iron Gate’ Yusoff Abu Bakar

Dato’Yusoff, who brought glory to the nation and exhibited an excellent record when representing Malaya in the “Pesta Bola Merdeka” (Merdeka Cup) in 1958, served in the Malaysian Prisons Department since 1957.

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His last post was as Alor Setar Prison Director from 1987 to 1990. Other than Yuzaily, Yusoff leaves behind his wife, Halimah Mohd Zain, 80, and two daughters, aged 51 and 42. His remains will be put to rest at the Masjid Al-Bukhari Cemetery, Alor Setar, at 11am tomorrow.

Bernama pays tribute to Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad

June 13, 2016

Bernama pays tribute to Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad

The long battle against esophageal cancer finally took a toll on the life of Abdullah Ahmad, better known as Dollah Kok Lanas, in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The 79-year-old’s passing has been described as a big loss to the national political arena as he was noted for his dedication in carrying out his duties, among which included his loyal service to Malaysia’s second prime minister, Abdul Razak Hussein, for 14 years from 1962 to 1976.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam said Abdullah was an idol to those who liked to venture into politics. “Although he was given arduous tasks, he was still capable of resolving them,” he said when met at Abdullah’s house in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Meanwhile, Gua Musang Assemblyman Tengku Razaleigh Tengku Mohd Hamzah who knew Abdullah more than 50 years ago said: “We shared so many stories between us that it cannot be recounted.

Born on July 4, 1937 at Kampung Bandar, Machang in Kelantan, Abdullah obtained his early education at Sekolah Melayu Padang Garong at Kota Baru before entering Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK), and following that, in 1960, he joined the American Political Science Association’s Congressional Fellowship programme for 18 months to study the American national politics. Then, he obtained a Master of Letters from Cambridge University in England.

Abdullah’s career path began when he was made special officer to Abdul Razak in 1962 before being appointed political secretary in 1963.

On January 14, this year, in conjunction with a special commemorative seminar on the Abdul Razak ‘Legacy of Leadership’ held in Kuala Lumpur, Abdullah in his speech said: “Abdul Razak had a great influence in the political arena and life of Malaysians during the 1970s.”

Abdullah also became Machang UMNO Division Chief and assemblyperson in 1974 when he won his seat in the fourth general election. However in 1976, Abdullah was expelled from UMNO following his arrest under the Internal Security Act.

This did not dampen his spirit as six years later, he rejoined UMNO and went on to become the Kok Lanas UMNO Division Chief (previously known as Machang) and assemblyperson in his win during the seventh general election in 1986. He remained Kok Lanas assemblyperson for only one session as he was defeated in the eight general election in 1990.

Career as a reporter started in 1957

Abdullah’s career as a reporter started at the New Straits Times in 1957. In 1995, he was appointed member of the board of directors for Utusan Melayu (M) Berhad, apart from holding the post as director at Utusan Melayu, Singapore.

In 2000, Abdullah was made New Straits Times Press (NSTP) Group executive director before being appointed NSTP group editor-in-chief beginning from 2001 until 2003, when he had to relinquish his post.

Meanwhile in the government sector, Abdullah held the position as Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in 1974; and science, technology and environment minister, two years later.

Abdullah had also served as special envoy of Malaysia to the United Nations from 1995 to 2000, replacing  Tun Musa Hitam.

Besides that, Abdullah had also written a book entitled, ‘Tunku Abdul Rahman and Malaysia’s Foreign Policy: 1963-1970′ as well as ‘Issues in Malaysian Politics’ which was published by the Institute of Foreign Affairs, Singapore.

He had also made his mark in the academia as a Fellow of the Harvard University Centre for International Affairs; Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association as well as Trustee of the Cambridge Foundation (Malaysia) for the Malaysian Commonwealth Studies Centre in Cambridge.

Abdullah, who suffered from cancer since last year, is survived by widow, Puan Sri Fauzah Mohamed Darus (extreme right above) and three children, namely sons Adhha Amir, 47, and Fuad, 42, and daughter, Hamdia Munirah, 45.

RIP, Dear Nancy, May God Bless You

March 7, 2016

RIP, Dear Nancy, May God Bless You

by Lou Cannon

The First Lady of the United States of America

Nancy Reagan, the influential and stylish wife of the 40th President of the United States who unabashedly put Ronald Reagan at the center of her life but became a political figure in her own right, died on Sunday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 94.

The cause was congestive heart failure, according to a statement from Joanne Drake, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Reagan.

Mrs. Reagan was a fierce guardian of her husband’s image, sometimes at the expense of her own, and during Mr. Reagan’s improbable climb from a Hollywood acting career to the governorship of California and ultimately the White House, she was a trusted adviser.

President Obama said on Sunday that Mrs. Reagan “had redefined the role” of First Lady, adding, “Later, in her long goodbye with President Reagan, she became a voice on behalf of millions of families going through the depleting, aching reality of Alzheimer’s, and took on a new role, as advocate, on behalf of treatments that hold the potential and the promise to improve and save lives.”

Mrs. Reagan helped hire and fire the political consultants who ran her husband’s near-miss campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 1976 and his successful campaign for the Presidency in 1980.

She also played a seminal role in the 1987 ouster of the White House Chief of Staff, Donald T. Regan, whom Mrs. Reagan blamed for ineptness after it was disclosed that Mr. Reagan had secretly approved arms sales to Iran.

Behind the scenes, Mrs. Reagan was the prime mover in Mr. Reagan’s efforts to recover from the scandal, which was known as Iran-contra because some of the proceeds from the sale had been diverted to the contras opposing the leftist government of Nicaragua. While trying to persuade her stubborn husband to apologize for the arms deal, Mrs. Reagan brought political figures into the White House, among them the Democratic power broker Robert S. Strauss, to argue her case to the President.

Mr. Reagan eventually conceded that she was right. On March 4, 1987, the President made a distanced apology for the arms sale in a nationally televised address that dramatically improved his slumping public approval ratings.

His wife, typically, neither sought nor received credit for the turnaround. Mrs. Reagan did not wish to detract from her husband’s luster by appearing to be a power behind the presidential throne.

In public, she gazed at him adoringly and portrayed herself as a contented wife who had willingly given up a Hollywood acting career of her own to devote herself to her husband’s career. “He was all I had ever wanted in a man, and more,” she wrote in “My Turn: The Memoirs of Nancy Reagan,” published in 1989.

He reciprocated in kind. “How do you describe coming into a warm room from out of the cold?” he once said. “Never waking up bored? The only thing wrong is, she’s made a coward out of me. Whenever she’s out of sight, I’m a worrier about her.”

In truth, she was the worrier. Mrs. Reagan wrote in her memoirs that she sometimes became angry with her husband because of his relentless optimism. He didn’t worry at all, she wrote, “and I seem to do the worrying for both of us.”

It was this conviction that led Mrs. Reagan to take a leading role in the Regan ouster and in other personnel matters in the White House. “It’s hard to envision Ronnie as being a bad guy,” she said in a 1989 interview. “And he’s not. But there are times when somebody has to step in and say something. And I’ve had to do that sometimes — often.”

She did not always get her way. Mr. Reagan ignored her criticism of several cabinet appointees, including Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger.

In 2001, seven years after her husband announced that he had Alzheimer’s disease, Mrs. Reagan broke with President George W. Bush and endorsed embryonic stem cell research. She stepped up her advocacy after her husband’s death on June 5, 2004. “She feels the greatest legacy her family could ever have is to spare other families from going through what they have,” a family friend, Doug Wick, quoted Mrs. Reagan as saying.

Years on Camera

Born Anne Frances Robbins on July 6, 1921, in New York City, Nancy Davis was the daughter of Edith Luckett, an actress, and Kenneth Robbins, a car dealer who abandoned the family soon after her birth. Ms. Luckett resumed her stage career when her daughter was 2 and sent the child to live with relatives in Bethesda, Md. In 1929, Ms. Luckett married a Chicago neurosurgeon, Loyal Davis, who adopted Nancy and gave her the family name.

Almost overnight, Nancy Davis’s difficult childhood became stable and privileged. Throughout the rest of her life, she described Mr. Davis as her real father.

Nancy Davis graduated from the elite Girls’ Latin School in Chicago and then from Smith College in 1943. Slender, with photogenic beauty and large, luminous eyes, she considered an acting career. After doing summer stock in New England, she landed a part in the Broadway musical “Lute Song,” with Mary Martin and Yul Brynner. With the help of a friend, the actor Spencer Tracy, her mother then arranged a screen test given by the director George Cukor, of MGM.

Cukor, according to his biographer, told the studio that Miss Davis lacked talent. Nonetheless, she was given a part in the film she had tested for, “East Side, West Side,” which was released in 1949 starring Barbara Stanwyck, James Mason and Ava Gardner. Cast as the socialite wife of a New York press baron, Miss Davis appeared in only two scenes, but they were with Miss Stanwyck, the film’s top star.

After her husband went into politics, Mrs. Reagan encouraged the notion that her acting interest had been secondary, a view underscored by the biographical information she supplied to MGM in 1949, in which she said her “greatest ambition” was to have a “successful, happy marriage.”

But this was a convention in a day when women were not encouraged to have careers outside the home. In his book “Reagan’s America: Innocents At Home,” Garry Wills disputed the prevalent view that Miss Davis had just been marking time in Hollywood while waiting for a man. She was “the steady woman,” he wrote, who in most of her 11 films had held her own with accomplished actors.

The producer Dore Schary cast Miss Davis in her first lead role, in “The Next Voice You Hear” (1950), playing a pregnant mother opposite James Whitmore. She received good reviews for her work in “Night Into Morning” (1951), with Ray Milland, in which she played a war widow who talked Milland’s character out of committing suicide. Mrs. Reagan thought this was her best film.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan together forever

Mr. Wills wrote that she was underrated as an actress because she had become most widely associated with her “worst” and, as it happened, last film, “Hellcats of the Navy” (1957), in which Ronald Reagan had the leading role.

How They Met

As she so often did in life, Nancy Davis took the initiative in meeting the man who would become her husband.

In the late 1940s, Hollywood was in the grip of a “Red Scare,” prompted by government investigations into accusations of Communist influence in the film industry. In October 1949, the name “Nancy Davis” appeared in a Hollywood newspaper on a list of signers of a supporting brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn the convictions of two screenwriters who had been blacklisted after being found guilty of contempt for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Such newspaper mentions could mean the end of a career, and Nancy Davis sought help from her friend Mervyn LeRoy, who had directed her in “East Side, West Side.” LeRoy found it was a case of mistaken identity: another Nancy Davis had worked in what he called “leftist theater.” He offered to call Ronald Reagan, president of the Screen Actors Guild, to make sure there would be no problems in the future. Instead, Miss Davis insisted that LeRoy set up a meeting with Mr. Reagan.

The meeting took place over dinner at LaRue’s, a fashionable Hollywood restaurant on Sunset Strip. Mr. Reagan, recovering from multiple leg fractures suffered in a charity baseball game, was on crutches. Miss Davis was immediately smitten.

Mr. Reagan, though, was more cautious. According to Bob Colacello, who has written extensively about the Reagans, Mr. Reagan still hoped for a reconciliation with his first wife, the actress Jane Wyman, who had divorced him in 1948.

After dating several times in the fall of 1949, Mr. Reagan and Miss Davis drifted apart and dated others. But they began seeing each other again in 1950. Miss Davis had been accepted on the board of the Screen Actors Guild, and she and Mr. Reagan began having dinner every Monday night after the meetings, often with the actor William Holden, the guild Vice President, according to Mr. Colacello.

Mr. Reagan and Nancy Davis were married on March 4, 1952, at a private ceremony at The Little Brown Church in the Valley, in Studio City. Mr. Holden and his wife, Ardis, were the only witnesses.

After their marriage, the Reagans bought a house in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles, where their daughter, Patricia Ann, was born — “a bit precipitously,” Mrs. Reagan wrote in her memoirs — on October 21, 1952. She is known as Patti Davis professionally. The Reagans also had a son, Ronald Prescott, on May 28, 1958.

Besides her son and daughter, survivors include Mrs. Reagan’s stepson, Michael Reagan, and her brother, Dr. Richard Davis. A stepdaughter, Maureen Reagan, died in 2001.

At the time of their marriage, Mr. Reagan’s film career was, as his new wife put it, at a “standstill.” Although Nancy Reagan had vowed not to be a working wife, she made a low-budget science-fiction movie, “Donovan’s Brain” (1953), with Lew Ayres. Her working was “a blow to Ronnie,” Mrs. Reagan observed in her memoirs, “but quite simply, we needed the money.”

The money worries ended early in 1954, when Music Corporation of America, the entertainment conglomerate, offered Mr. Reagan a television contract for $125,000 a year to be the host of “General Electric Theater.” It had a long run, broadcast on Sunday nights until 1962, and Mrs. Reagan herself acted in a few of its episodes.

Indeed, when her film career was over, she continued to work sporadically in television, in episodes of “Zane Grey Theater,” “The Dick Powell Show” and, as late as 1962, “Wagon Train.”

A Loyal Supporter

By then, Mr. Reagan had changed his partisan affiliation from Democratic to Republican and was giving political speeches. In Hollywood, Mr. Reagan’s shift toward the right was often attributed to Mrs. Reagan and her father, Loyal Davis, a staunch conservative. Both the Reagans denied this; she was barely interested in politics at the time, they said. Ironically, when President Reagan began to negotiate with Soviet leaders, conservatives accused Mrs. Reagan of pushing him in a liberal direction. Evidence is lacking to support either suspicion. As Mrs. Reagan put it: “If Ronnie hadn’t wanted to do it, he wouldn’t have done it.”

Though Mrs. Reagan was not at first keen on her husband’s entry into politics, she loyally supported him. His career took off when he made a rousing nationally televised speech for the Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater on October 27, 1964. The following year a group of wealthy people from Southern California approached Mr. Reagan about running for Governor of California. He was interested.

From the first, Mrs. Reagan was part of the campaign planning. “They were a team,” said Stuart Spencer, who with Bill Roberts managed the Reagan campaign. New to politics, she said little at first. But Mr. Spencer found her “a quick learner, always absorbing.” Before long she was peppering Mr. Roberts and Mr. Spencer about their strategy and tactics.

Mr. Reagan won a contested Republican primary and then a landslide victory in November against the Democratic incumbent, Gov. Edmund G. Brown. For the Reagans, that meant a 350-mile move to the state capital, Sacramento.

Mrs. Reagan was not happy there. She missed friends and the brisker social pace and milder climate of Southern California. And she hated the governor’s mansion, a dilapidated Victorian house on a busy one-way street. So she persuaded her husband to lease, at their own expense, a 12-room Tudor house in a fashionable section of eastern Sacramento. Mr. Reagan’s wealthy Southern California supporters later bought the house and leased it back to the Reagans.

The mansion episode, and Mrs. Reagan’s unalloyed preference for Southern California, aroused parochial resentment in Sacramento. She in turn disliked the city’s locker-room political culture, which required her to socialize with the wives of legislators who had insulted her husband. She bristled at press scrutiny, which became more intense after Joan Didion and her husband, John Gregory Dunne, wrote an unflattering article, “Pretty Nancy,” in The Saturday Evening Post in 1968. The article described Mrs. Reagan’s famous smile as a study in frozen insecurity.

Mrs. Reagan, who thought she had made a good impression on Ms. Didion, was crushed by the article. Katharine Graham, the longtime publisher of The Washington Post and later a friend of Mrs. Reagan’s, said the article set the tone for other unfavorable ones.

A Sophisticated  First Lady

But not all the press coverage was unflattering. A few months later, The Los Angeles Times published an article whose tone was telegraphed by its headline: “Nancy Reagan: A Model First Lady.” She also received positive publicity for welcoming home former prisoners of war from Vietnam and taking an active role in a Foster Grandparents Program for mentally disabled children.

Governor Reagan left office in 1975. With President Richard M. Nixon enmeshed in the Watergate scandal, the Reagans had already begun planning their next political move. In May 1974, they met with supporters at their home in Pacific Palisades. Among them was John P. Sears, a Washington lawyer who had worked for Mr. Nixon’s presidential campaign in 1960. Mr. Sears, alone of those who attended the meeting, predicted the Nixon resignation. That made an impression on Mrs. Reagan.

After Nixon resigned and was succeeded by Gerald R. Ford, Mr. Reagan began planning to challenge Mr. Ford for the 1976 Republican presidential nomination. Mrs. Reagan recommended hiring Mr. Sears to direct the effort, which Mr. Reagan narrowly lost. (Mr. Ford was then defeated by Jimmy Carter.)

Four years later, as Mr. Reagan again sought the nomination, Mrs. Reagan played a leading role in the firing of Mr. Sears. The campaign had just won the New Hampshire primary, but Mrs. Reagan nevertheless came to believe that Mr. Sears was a disruptive influence. She also had a hand in the hiring of his replacement as campaign manager, William J. Casey, whom Mr. Reagan later named Director of Central Intelligence.

But after Mr. Reagan won the nomination and got off to a flustered start in his campaign against President Carter, Mrs. Reagan became critical of Mr. Casey and urged her husband to bring in Stuart Spencer, who had run Mr. Reagan’s first campaign for Governor. Mr. Spencer was persona non grata in the Reagan camp because he had managed Mr. Ford’s campaign in 1976. But Mr. Reagan followed his wife’s advice. Mr. Spencer joined the campaign and ran it smoothly.

Not all of her advice was equally good. For instance, she opposed Mr. Spencer’s proposal that her husband debate President Carter. Mr. Reagan decided to debate and did so well that he surged ahead in the polls and won convincingly a week later.

A Sophisticated Turn

As First Lady, Mrs. Reagan was glamorous and controversial. The White House started serving liquor again after the abstemious Carter years. Mrs. Reagan reached out to Washington society. More sophisticated than she had been in Sacramento, Mrs. Reagan also reached out to politicians, Democrats as well as Republicans. She became friends with Millie O’Neal, wife of the House Speaker, Thomas P. O’Neill, who was a political foe of President Reagan by day and a friend after hours. During one period in 1981, when Mrs. Reagan was getting “bad press,” as she recalled, Mr. O’Neill leaned across at a luncheon and said, “Don’t let it get you down.”

Mrs. Reagan’s critics said she had brought the bad press on herself. After one look at the White House living quarters, Mrs. Reagan decided to redo them. She then raised $822,000 from private contributors to accomplish this. Another contributor put up more than $200,000 to buy a set of presidential china, enough for 220 place settings; it was the first new set in the White House since the Johnson administration.

Nancy Reagan and Michelle Obama

With a slim figure maintained by daily exercise, Mrs. Reagan looked younger than her years and wore expensively simple gowns provided by Galanos, Adolfo and other designers. One best-selling Washington postcard featured Mrs. Reagan in an ermine cape and jeweled crown with the label “Queen Nancy.” It touched a nerve with Mrs. Reagan, who had been surprised at the press criticism of the china purchase and the White House redecoration. But the rest of the country was kinder. In 1981, a Gallup poll put Mrs. Reagan first on the list of “most admired women” in the nation. She was in the top 10 on the list throughout the Reagan Presidency.

White House image-makers, aware that President Reagan was generally well liked for his self-deprecating humor, urged Mrs. Reagan to use humor as a weapon against her critics. She did so spectacularly on March 29, 1982, at the Gridiron Dinner, an annual roast by journalists, where, to standing ovations, she made sport of her stylish if icy image in a surprise on-stage appearance as “Second Hand Rose,” wearing feathered hat, pantaloons and yellow boots and singing a parody of “Second Hand Clothes.”

Mrs. Reagan’s darkest memory was of March 30, 1981, when she received word that her husband had been shot by a would-be assassin outside the Washington Hilton Hotel. She rushed to the hospital (The George Washington University Hospital), where her husband, although fighting for his life, was still wisecracking. “Honey, I forgot to duck,” he said to her, borrowing a line that the fighter Jack Dempsey supposedly said to his wife after losing the heavyweight championship to Gene Tunney in 1926. But Mrs. Reagan found nothing to laugh about. “Nothing can happen to my Ronnie,” she wrote in her diary that night. “My life would be over.”

After the assassination attempt, Mrs. Reagan turned to Joan Quigley, a San Francisco astrologer, who claimed to have predicted that March 30 would be a “bad day” for the President. Her relationship with Ms. Quigley “began as a crutch,” Mrs. Reagan wrote, “one of several ways I tried to alleviate my anxiety about Ronnie.” Within a year, it was a habit. Mrs. Reagan conversed with Ms. Quigley by telephone and passed on the information she received about favorable and unfavorable days to Mr. Deaver, the Presidential Assistant, and later to the White House Chief of Staff, Donald Regan, for use in scheduling.

Mr. Regan disclosed Mrs. Reagan’s astrological bent in his 1988 book, “For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington,” asserting that the Quigley information created a chaotic situation for White House schedulers. Mrs. Reagan said that no political decisions had been made based on the astrologist’s advice, nor did Mr. Regan allege that any had been.

But the disclosure was nonetheless embarrassing to Mrs. Reagan; she and many commentators saw it as an act of revenge for the role she had played in forcing Mr. Regan out after the Iran-contra disclosures. Mrs. Reagan’s low opinion of Mr. Regan was well known; she had said tartly that he “liked the sound of chief but not of staff.” In fact, however, Mr. Regan’s resignation had also been demanded by powerful Republican figures, and the President had agreed to it. When Mr. Regan saw a report of this on CNN, he quit and walked out of the White House.

Within the White House, Mrs. Reagan was known as a meticulous taskmaster. Some staff members feared incurring her disfavor. The speechwriter Peggy Noonan was wearing walking clothes in the White House the first time she passed by Mrs. Reagan, who looked at her with disdain. “The next time I saw her I hid behind a pillar,” Ms. Noonan wrote in the book “What I saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era.”

Other staff members found Mrs. Reagan more approachable than her husband. One of these was the speechwriter Landon Parvin, who worked with Mrs. Reagan when she was engineering her husband’s recovery from the Iran-contra scandal and drafted the apology in the President’s televised speech.

Her Own Causes

As First Lady, Mrs. Reagan traveled throughout the United States and abroad to speak out against drug and alcohol abuse by young Americans and coined the phrase “Just Say No,” which was used in advertising campaigns during the 1980s.

In speeches about drug abuse, Mrs. Reagan often used a line from the William Inge play “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs,” in which a mother says of her children, “I always thought I could give them life like a present, all wrapped in white with every promise of success.” Mr. Parvin, in an interview, said she had become emotional when she read this line, “as if it had a power that went back to her own childhood.”

On October 17, 1987, a few days after cancer was detected in a mammogram, Mrs. Reagan underwent a mastectomy of her left breast. Afterward, she discussed the operation openly to encourage women to have mammograms every year.

After the Presidency, the Reagans returned to Los Angeles and settled in a ranch house in exclusive Bel Air. In 1994, Mr. Reagan learned he had Alzheimer’s disease and announced the diagnosis to the American people in a poignant letter, which Mrs. Reagan had helped him write.

For the next decade, Mrs. Reagan conducted what she called a “long goodbye,” described in Newsweek as “10 years of exacting care giving, hurried lunches with friends” and “hours spent with old love letters and powerful advocacy for new research into cures for the disease that was taking Ronnie from her.”

At Mr. Reagan’s funeral, at the National Cathedral in Washington, she remained in tight control of her emotions. Then she flew west with the coffin for a burial service at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., where Mrs. Reagan will also be buried. At the conclusion of the ceremony, at sunset, soldiers and sailors handed Mrs. Reagan a folded American flag. She held it close to her heart, put it down on the coffin, and at last began to cry.