It is an insult to the memory of these great Malaysians who, in their lifetime, had contributed immensely in their known fields, to make this nation of ours what it is today.
I should have been quick enough to get Usman Awang's family to get the poet laureate off the list (here). Not because he is in bad company (far from it) but because he is being ranked that way.
Anyway, 10 have been shortlisted and Usman Awang is not one of them. Read here.
My friend, Halimah Mohd Said has an issue with Astro because her late father Tan Sri Dr Mohamed Said bin Mohamed was on the list and "was being ranked/not ranked by people who don't even know him or of him".
She said Astro didnt even bother to get his name right or his picture in.
She called to complain. Astro said they'd call her back but never did.
Her father, a medical doctor died in July 1996. He was the first elected Menteri Besar of Negeri Sembilan from 1959 to 1969.
"Can't bear the thought he is being ranked/not ranked by people who don't even know him or of him. Leave him alone, I say. Those who loved him and respected him remember," she told me in her sms.
Frankly, I can't understand why Astro or whoever else was prepaparing list, had left some faces blank.
If they were serious enough, they should have at least tried to obtain photographs of the late Khoo Eng Tong, Tan Sri Dr Syed Mohamed Alwy Alhady, Tan Sri Ir Raja Zainal Raja Sulaiman and A. V Bapat.
In Dr Mohamed Said's case, his daughter had contacted Astro so they could have asked her for his photograph and made sure that his name was spelt correctly.
Halimah was disturbed by the sms-ranking exercise and wrote a letter, dated July 13, to the NST.
It was not published. But let me reproduce her letter. I believe the issue has not quite ended. And it wouldn't hurt anyone if her letter was published.
Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2007 17:42:43 +0800
The current competition on Astro Prima and some newspapers to rank the 50 nominees of Anak Gemilang Malaysia is unfair and done in very poor taste.
While the distinguished panel must have applied the most stringent criteria to compile a list of 50 (deceased) outstanding Malaysians in different fields such as politics, government, professions, literary, sports, music etc, the promoters of the competition have trivialised their contributions by lumping them together to be ranked via SMS or newspaper voting.
As of 11 July, Sudirman (a music nominee) is in 3rd position ahead of people who were outstanding in more serious fields. Datin Seri Endon Mahmood is in 1st position ahead of Tun Abdul Razak Hussein in 2nd position.
While the objective of recognising these "towering" Malaysians and honouring their memory on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Merdeka is commendable indeed, to subject them to a ranking procedure which is full of loopholes, takes away the dignity of not only these great men and women and their contributions, but also of the Anak Gemilang Malaysia concept itself.
I would like to suggest that to be as fair and equal as possible, the list of names should be organised alphabetically, with honorary titles in brackets and the related fields in capital letters as in the following:
Abdul Razak bin Hussein (Tun - POLITICS)
The list of 50 nominees should be final and not be subject to any form of artificial ranking by people who may be biased, who may not really know the contributions of these past leaders and who may therefore apply varying criteria.
To exploit the public by encouraging them to waste 50 sen each time they send an SMS vote is a travesty in itself.
Besides, how does one compare the contributions of Sudirman Arshad with that of Onn Jaafar?
Halimah Mohd Said
7 Jalan Damansara Permai
50490 Kuala Lumpur