The Patriot Father

A little over 50 years ago, Tun Razak persuaded my father who was then a Special Branch staff officer in Bukit Aman, to accompany him to Bangkok for the negotiations to end the confrontation with Indonesia. My father was reluctant to leave my elder sister Juliana who was suffering from Thallasemia Major and had been given not long to live. “Just one night,” said Razak to my father.

It was during the negotiations with Adam Malik from Indonesia that my sister passed on. Tun Razak was told by his Aide-de-Camp of the news and he quietly went up to his room and locked himself in. My father knocked on the door to request permission to leave for Kuala Lumpur, but Razak never opened the door. In the end, my father climbed up the hotel wall and entered Razak’s room theough the window. Razak quickly held a newspaper in front of his face, replying to my father’s request only with a grunt. Razak was crying but did not want my father to see.

My father has always put the nation before himself. He knew that his first-hand information among others into the Kalabakan massacre of members of the 1st Platoon, ‘A’ Coy of the 3rd Battalion Royal Malay Regiment on the 29th December 1963 would come in handy during the negotiations.

I, too, was a sickly child. Diagnosed with Thallasemia Minor, I also suffered from Acute Glomerulonephritis. My father was the Officer in-Charge of Police District (OCPD) in Ipoh when the 13th May 1969 tragedy broke out. Tun Razak instructed my father to report to the National Operations Council (MAGERAN). With Ipoh being a Chinese-majority town, my father felt it was important he defused the situation in Ipoh first. He asked Razak to give him two days. With three of his men, he went to a sawmill in Lahat where hundreds of Chinese, armed to the teeth, had gathered. He persuaded them to put down their weapons. The Chinese representatives told my father that Malays from the surrounding kampungs were preparing to attack them and had sent their families to seek protection at police stations – an advantage the Chinese did not have. My father immediately called police stations under his charge to evict the Malay families seeking refuge there. As a result, the Malays did not attack the Chinese community in Lahat and a potentially bloody tragedy was averted.

When we finally moved to KL to be with him, my father would carry me on his shoulders in the middle of the night from our house jn Jalan Bukit Guillemard (now Jalan Bukit Ledang) to the playground at the Lake Gardens just to spend quality time with me. He did not want to miss any opportunity like he did when my late sister was around.

All that ended abruptly on 8th June 1974, the day after his predecessor was gunned down in cold blood near where the present Jalan Raja Chulan meets Jalan Tun Perak the day before. He spent his life as a police officer 20 years thereon combatting the communist terrorists, visit frontliners to boost their morale, and console family members whenever a policeman was killed.

When his brother Ainuddin passed away as a result of a motorcycle accident in August 1975, my father was away in Sandakan due to a critical situation. Tun Datu Hj Mustapha, the then Chief Minister of Sabah, offered to send my father back in his private aircraft. Upon arrival in KL, my father went straight to the Prime Minister’s residence to report the situation.

When done, my father asked Tun Razak, “May I take an emergency leave for one day, sir?”

“What for?” asked Razak.

“My brother passed away yesterday and I want to attend his funeral today.”

Tun Razak was aghast, asked my father why didn’t he attend the funeral first. Razak ordered an Air Force Allouette helicopter to fly my father back to his hometown in Teluk Intan. He made it just in time for the burial.

By the time he retired, his children were mostly married and had moved out.

My brother, the youngest in the family, passed on three years ago. After visiting my brother’s grave, my father sat a while inside my car and told me how he wished he was not the Inspector-General of Police so he could see his children grow up. He lamented how he cannot remember ever sleeping and hugging my late brother when he was little. I pointed out to him that he had saved tens of thousands of lives by doing what he did as the IGP. And due to the respect the police force still have for him, my late brother was accorded an escorted police hearse which made his final journey to his resting place smoother, and that at least 400 people joined during the jenazah prayer.

I don’t know if I managed to appease him. I hope I did. What he never realised is that it is because of people like him, millions in Malaysia still have a father to wish on this auspicious day.

But as a father, he still cries whenever he visits and recites the Surah Yaasiin at my brother’s grave. The IGP everyone knew him as, is just another father after all.

Happy Father’s Day, Ayah. You’ve sacrificed a lot for the nation and your children are proud of you nevertheless.