Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Samad Ismail : Of Friends & Foes

I read something about my late father yesterday. He was mentioned in an article written by a former Singapore Minister Othman Wok in a tribute to the republic's first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew who died on Monday.
I reproduce it (in bold) from (excerpt) of Othman's piece that was published in the Straits Times (Singapore).
It is a nice tribute to Singapore's founding father. But the bit on my late dad - not so nice.
For reasons, perhaps known only to Othman who considers my father "a good friend", he chose to repeat and publish a false allegation made decades ago against my late father - that he was a "card-carrying member" of the Malayan Communist Party. A charge my father had denied following his release in 1981 after four-and-half years in detention under the ISA.
I write, on behalf of my sisters and brothers, to say that  - with due respect to Othman, we find the reference made of our father despicable and a deliberate act to malign him.

We will not be drawn into further remarks to set the record straight or to clear our father's name for obvious reasons. Individiuals  (from both sides of the causeway) responsible for the detention of our father are all dead and gone.

We will let it rest but we must register our protest and to express our regret and that we are deeply saddened by Othman's invocation of our father's name - by resurrecting and repeating a false accusation - a false narrative -  that had been put to rest decades ago.

Below is part of Othman's article.
"I told him my concerns were about how we were going to cope with the communist threat in an independent Singapore. He said to me: "You don't worry. I will handle them."
He made good on this promise, dealing firmly and deftly with the communists after Independence. Some have expressed disagreement with Kuan Yew on his subsequent actions, since many of those detained continued to insist for many years that they were not communists.
This is a misunderstanding of how the communists worked in that era. They did not admit they were communists then because communist organisations had been declared illegal from the time of the Malayan Emergency. So it became their strategy to go underground and to secretly infiltrate groups throughout society. My good friend Samad Ismail, also an Utusan Melayu newsman, did not admit to being a communist at the time, but he turned out to be a card-carrying member of the Malayan Communist Party.
Samad was detained in Malaysia in the 1970s. I have no doubt there were detainees in Singapore who, like him, were underground communist members or strong communist sympathisers who fought for the same violent cause. Kuan Yew fought the communists vigorously and Singapore is better off because of it."
You can read Othman's piece published by The Straits Times (Singapore) -  "Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: Trusted Friend and Political Comrade" HERE .  
Othman Wok, 90, served in Lee Kuan Yew's Cabinet as Social Affairs Minister from 1963 to 1977.



JohorMali said...

Any old timers who had read Utusan Melayu in the fifties and sixties will agree that Othmsn Wok's forte was about writing ghost stories.

So it come to no suprise that LKY could easily befriended him because of his lack or, perhaps,absence of any substantial knowledge about economic and social politic of that time.

There was at that time another rookie writer in the ST who never failed to raise many issues about his bangsa. He one day became a quite a formidable friend and foe (whichever way you like to look at it) to PM Harry.

Maybe LKY had gazed in the crystal ball that OW was an easy meat when compared to Che Det.

Anonymous said...

I think his name was mauled by both left and right, though he was beholden to no one, except truth, to which cause he was released.

Lesson from arraignment and life was truth has to fly: patah sayap terbang jua.

Unfortunate that in our prosperity and success, we are not sensitive to truth.

Samad was an inspiration to all who practice truth.

Anonymous said...

Ini zaman saman menyaman.bertindak dgn bijak menjaga nama baik arwah Pak Samad.Nampaknya zaman kegemilangan kewartanan nampak semakin pudar melawan arus media baru.

Anonymous said...

Salam Nuraina,

We've seen many ar**-licking apologists who admire LKY and Othman is definitely one of them. May Pak Samad rest in peace, amin!


RD. said...

Well, Rocky should not have made Wiki's link to that Wok fella, in the first place. The less everyone knows him, the better. He should have been made more 'unknown' to our future generation.

I'd figure-out myself what kind of Melayu he really is, from TS Zam's recent history of Utusan.

To me, your late father is 'One of A Kind'.

Anonymous said...

Othman Wok was LKY's model Muslim for the Malay community - one who could integrate with his Chinese colleagues in drink and entertainment.

Anonymous said...

Been watching (on Spore TV) doses and doses of lies and untruths about how LKY singlehandedly appeased the trade uninonists and the Chinese left to support PAP until the most influential Chinese leader Lim Chin Siong and gang decided to join PAP albeit just a short spell.
The truth as told by a writer..'ironically, Samad a Malay and Devan Nair and Indian provided PAP with the support of the trade unions and the Chinese left which were the majority at that time'.
And back in Malaysia..'but as soon as Razak died, the keris and daggers came out of the sarongs of Umno people who felt that he was a threat to them'..from RockyBru...Some said they did that because he was arrogant. Yes he was.Pak Samad had no respect and totally despise those who are corrupted and without integrity, regardless whether they are Ministers or UMNO leaders.
These are just some of the outstanding qualities of most profound Malay intelectual,journalist and politician that may have spurred his foes to conveniently brand him a communist..but none on record about him being a card-carrying member" of the Malayan Communist Party.
Othman Wok dah nyanyuk...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Othman Wok...

MD Samani said...

Agree. Our dear departed bapaks were no communists.

Anonymous said...

Othman Wok was a great Singaporean and a good minister. LKY was prisoner of the colonial role model... "I boss, you stupid listen to me" sort of thing. British colonialism poisoned the Asian spirit in so many ways. Mahathir also did not shed the colonial type authoritarianism when he was PM.

LKY - like Mahathir - put other people in under ISA. Jamit Singh (a trade unionist) comes to mind and in the end he was thrown out of the tiny red dot. He then had a eke a living as a temporary teacher in Malaya, the land of his birth.

Samad was also not without fault. He never forgot how important he was in Singapore. But I had never heard him spout any thing about communists or any of their ideas. Yes, he was of the Left but so were thousands of other people in Malaysia.

Anonymous said...

Itu aje yang tinggal:

Mari kita rakyat Singapura
sama-sama menuju bahagia;
Cita-cita kita yang mulia,
berjaya Singapura.

Marilah kita bersatu
dengan semangat yang baru;
Semua kita berseru,
Majulah Singapura,
Majulah Singapura!

Marilah kita bersatu
dengan semangat yang baru;
Semua kita berseru,
Majulah Singapura,
Majulah Singapura!

dan ......... Singapura Lebeh maju dari Malaysia

Anonymous said...

Rindu arwah Pak Samad... AlFatihah.