Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tuesdays With Bapak

Bapak's Homecoming -- September 25 2007

The year 1981 was just another year. Or so we thought.
Bapak had been in detention for nearly five years and we had no inkling of any plan by the Government to release him.
Honestly, after five years of Bapak's incarceration, we were pretty much hardened, but not resigned to his and our situation.
We were not resigned to the fact that Bapak would forever be a detainee, that we would forever spend Tuesdays visiting him at the police station.
We continued to hope, to pray that one day, someone in power would be moved to have him released, that someone in power could see the injustice and cruelty of his detention,.
That someone in power had the heart to see that it had been years too long for a man, not a criminal, to be living life that way.

That year in 1981, Malaysia had a new Prime Minister -- Dr Mahathir Mohamad who took over from Hussein Onn.
We were oblivious to any signs indicating foreseeable changes that were to take place.

I remember I had just returned from my graduate studies in Boston, in the US. I was happy to be home and to be resuming work with the NST as I had been on study leave.

Everything seemed a blur. Some details of events leading to his release remain sketchy to me.
What I remember was that there was news that Dr Mahathir had ordered the release of Bapak and several others including Abdullah Ahmad, Abdullah Majid and Samani Amin.
I remember Kak Ton who was a journalist with Bernama telling Mak and the rest of us at home in Section 16 about Bapak's imminent release.
And then, I think Mak received an official call about it.

And then reporters, and photographers came to wait for Bapak's release.
They waited the whole day. Because I knew a couple of them who were senior reporters (compared to me who was then still a rookie), I chatted with them and served them coffee, after coffee. Maybe cookies too. Or some goodies.

Oh...words cannot describe the feeling, such elation. The heart throbbing as we kept on looking outside for Bapak to arrive.
Would he come home in a Black Maria? Or that red sedan? Oh, dang...does it matter?

Then, just as darkness fell, a car zoomed into Lorong 16/7C and screeched to a halt right infront of our gate.

The door (was it the front or passenger, can't remember) flung open and out came --- our Bapak. Yay! Hurray! Best-nya!

Oh, it was a celebration of the heart! Freedom! Homecoming!

He was wearing the same red and white checked shirt which he wore the night he was arrested.

Bapak was grinning at all of us. The (plainclothed) police officers accompanied him to the house. He spent a few moments with them, smiling and joking.

Bapak was home!

The story of his release was on the front pages of the morning papers. But the photo of a very happy Kak Olin welcoming Bapak with the rest of us surrounding him, was in the back page of the NST.
Those days when the NST was a broadsheet, the back page was a news page of equal importance and prominence as the front page.

That night, he received streams of visitors. He was kept up all night long, joking and talking with old friends.

He did not seem to mind staying up, satisfying the curiosity of his visitors with anecdotes of his incarceration.

"Dah biasa tak tidur malam...mengaji, baca Yassin," he said casually but with a glint in his eyes.


zaitgha said...


Another moving posting...hmmm 1981 i was in BBGS and was enjoying teenager lifestyles in KL...and i loved going to school but for the reasons my mum always cringed when i told her...i loved it becoz of the co-curricular activities and the many friends i had...i looked forward to go to school after exams as we could do whatever we wanted, played games and yacked to glory. I didnt know who Pak Samad is at that time. Only read about him after i came back from the US in 1989.

The irony was that your siblings and you went to see your dad in police station every Tuesday and yor dad would be back in detention after that short visits. And i always loved to go to Traffic Police station in Jln Bandar to see my dad there, we would had lunch there and i would be on the bus home smiling ear to ear and would get scolding from my mum for being late back home. At that time phone was a luxury. However, I would be anxious if my dad was not home by 6 o'clock. You see, he retired from the force in 1985. My visits though did not confine to certain day, i went there at my whims and fancies.

I always loved the times i spend with him talking nonsenses right until he was on his death bed last April..

Apology for being long winded abt my dad pulak...just that most of your TWB posting brought back fond memories....and thank you.

Anonymous said...

Kak Ena,

Ahhh...TWB, a dose of normalcy after such a sad week. And a happy story too. I smile reading this. Can't imagine how happy you were then!

Can't imagine being in prison for five years either. But as Bapak said, he spent the time remembering God. That must have been his source of strength

Alliedmartster said...

Kak Ena,
I can feel the joy from your description, and I am sure that it was one of the best, if not the best Raya that you have had!

A Voice said...

That means, when you were in Boston, your dad was not out yet.

Betul jugak.

It was Tun Dr Mahathir's ascension to Premiership that King Ghaz's victim are released.

Not tht old, but getting old. Memory sometimes failing me.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Mahathir released many ISA detainees, including Pak Samad. Thank you, Mahathir. I pray for your recovery and health.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nuraina,

This episode of TWB is such a welcome relief after that "will they? or won't they?" drama and the sandiwara prophetically dubbed "good cop, bad cop" routine by Rocky Bru.

Reading this posting, I found myself rejoicing with you in your Bapak's Homecoming. Thanks for sharing it.


zai : thank you. and i am glad you were sort of inspired to tell me about your schoolgirl days... i can really relate to that.

zai, where in the US were you?
and how ironic is that --- i'm sure your arwah ayahanda knew wbout the arrangment (our meetings with Bapak).

thanks for visiting, zai.

how's ramadhan been?

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

yes, Dr M da Man!

so anyway, now days the back page seems to be equally important than the front of every newspapers, and sometimes way more important.

i mean, things like, 'law is law and nobody is exempted'. thats not news. thats stoooopid.


elviza: I never thought i'd ever be saying this -- but really, yes, the spiritual journey was about the only good thing for Bapak in detention.

alliedmarster: it was, tony. we were thankful, bersyukur for his release.

A Voice: Yep... that's right.
getting old? Hey....you;re younger than I am!

ZulTongkang: Yes..it was him who ordered the release.
Actually Dr M (and Musa Hitam) was against the detention.
Yes...he is always in my prayers.

Sesat: Thank you, Sesat.
Thanks for always visiting....

zaitgha said...


I was in Houston, Texas and i went after you came back. I was there from 83 - 89...

not quite sure if he knew abt the meeting arrangements as he was a traffic police in Jalan Bandar...if he did, he never said anything to me...

and so far ramadhan has been hectic for me as my dad in law is in and out of hospital Seremban and now in again...well thats another story...

beside our little Nurin tragedy i hope your ramadhan is good ...

Rockybru said...

I remember it was also Dr M who signed the letter to allow your late mom to visit her husband, Pak Samad, for one Hari Raya. That must have been the first or second year your dad was detained. Mahathir was, what - the Deputy Prime Minister? The PM was Hussein Onn. Clearly, Dr M had a heart even then. And the balls, of course.

In the last few years, since his resignation, Dr M has been accused of being a dictator when he was PM. Dr M the politician was a tough rival, ruthless to his political enemies even (especially the US and Australia). But history will remember him for releasing all those detained without trial under the ISA.

I f Mahathir had not become the PM in 1981, how much longer would Samad have been detained? I always wondered about that.

That was a long, long time ago. 26 years. but judging by so many well-wishers for Dr M, obviously a lot of people still remember the good things he did.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ena,

I'd like to dedicate Kiplling's "If" to Bapak.

I hope you don't think it's the height of irony to dedicate to a freedom fighter the penjajah's favourite national poem (1995 BBC opionion poll), but look at the words and tell me if your Dad doesn't personify the salients...

Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you

But make allowance for their doubting too,

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,

Or being hated, don't give way to hating,

And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,

If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;

If all men count with you, but none too much,

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,

And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!



That is so so poignant, so beautiful!
Thank you....

i may take the poem out and post it...
thanks again.

Zakhir's Zoo said...

When Pak Samad was released in 1981, I was most probably still trying to learn what puberty was all about..............Hahahahahhahahaha

Little did I know who Pak Samad was (although I remembered Lalin well - for all the wrong reasons!).

If memory served me, when Dr Mahathir Mohamad took over as Prime Minister on 17 July 1981, he released all political detainees arrested and held under ISA but the civil-servant-turned-politician, Ghazali "King Ghaz" Shafiee (once the supremo confidante of Tun Razak). The number is 180 (if I am not mistaken).

Like Ahirudin said, Dr. Mahathir's administration was dubbed as "draconian" and "dictatorial", although in hindsight, not many would agree with it anymore.

BaitiBadarudin said...

InsyaAllah, I'll visit Pak samad this Raya. When is Open Day?

Pak Zawi said...

I am lost for words to say. Suffice to say that King Ghaz's light plane crashed on the main range was God's way of showing him how powerless he was against God's fury even in this world.

yana said...

gosh..that was 26 years ago..and i was a year 6 student who were nt aware of other people's plight..including yours & especially yr dad's struggle.your article realy humble me this time.do produce some more..something of this nature in the future.tq