'All praise and thanks belong to Allah alone, the One, the All-High, All Merciful. Blessings and Peace be upon Prophet Muhammad, the last of His messengers and prophets, his family, his Companions and all those who follow in his footsteps till the end of time'.
Much as January 2008 and Muharam 1429 respectively heralded the New Year for the Gregorian and Hijrah calender , they also tolled the passing of four persons whom I know in respect of my contact with them or their contribution to the country and the community at large. For sure there are many other departures.
Firstly I heard of the demise of a childhood friend whom only a fortnight earlier I had the blessing to have been talking on line and the sadness of not visiting him though I had made promises to do so. Hj Mahmud Hassan whom I knew since 1948 when we began our first entry into SAHC and met again several times during our professional career passed away on 18 January and was buried at Kuang Selangor where he had settled down with his family. He was a soft spoken man, scholarly, gentle unlike many of us in the classroom then, robust, crude and boisterous. He was well attired, tidy and exact and this was characteristic of him till his senior years. He was practical. This was epitomized by his craftsmanship of wood works and collected pieces at home. He talked of his wooden horse, real piece of works which he built for his grand children and once intimidated that he would offer one to Tun Mahathir, a Kedahan and a SAHC alumni should he visit Kuang. We met sometime in November 2007 when 'Mud' was hospitalized at the Universiti Hospital Petaling Jaya. We talked of the good old days. He told how he presented himself spontaneously one day at Parliament House for an interview as a Simultaneous Interpreter and overjoyed at starting a career at the seat of government and later got into the Banking sector propelled by his masterly grasp of the English Language, an asset hard to come by now. Our conversation was halted with the arrival of Hajah Maimunah whom I knew since Kirkby time and their son. I took leave after a reunion thanks to emailing which connected me to Mud again after a long lapse but I never imagined that was our last meeting together.
A few days later we came to learn of Hj Murad Mohd Noor's ( Tan Sri) passing. An educationist and the former Ketua Pengarah Pelajaran Malaysia he succeeded the late Hj Hamdan Mohd Tahir (Tun). I knew Hj Murad who often visited schools in Kedah in his official capacity and later as coordinator for the Sixth University of Malaysia which was in its initial frame work beginning September 1983. Hj Murad along with Dato Khalil Yaakub (Deputy Minister of Education), Hj Syed Nahar Shahabudin ( Dato Seri and Menteri Besar Kedah), Daim Zainuddin of Peremba and others played crucial roles in its early formation that brought about the meteoric rise of Universiti Utara Malaysia within six months of its inception with an intake of 265 students at its own campus in Tanah Merah Jitra 1984. That UUM has now a student enrolment of 20,000 + with its master-planned campus in Sintok is a resounding success to its earlier planners. Allah Yarham Hj Murad Mohd Noor was one of them.
In one of the PKPSM ( Persidangan Kebangsaan Pengetua Sekolah Menengah) annual meeting and one held at Johor Bharu I had the opportunity to chair one of the session. The conference guest was Hj Murad himself. It was a moment and a chance which I remember quite vividly. Hj Murad as many educationist would know was easy going, friendly and humble making all in contact with him very much at home. When in Alor Star he was of course looking for the nearest Nasi Kandar stall for breakfast. Accompanied by Pengarah Pelajaran Kedah and friends all would heartily dig into the favorite Alor Star serving amidst stories and episodes related by Hj Murad Mohd Noor who was a compulsive speaker.
Kedahan, SAHC and the educational fraternity have lost another famous son.
Shakespeare quoting Hamlet once said that " When Sorrows come they come not in single spies, But in battalions". This appear to be true in this instant with another departure in the family and the community. Hj Megat Junid ( Tan Sri) who had been ill for sometimes also left his family and the loved ones to be with Allah swt. Hj Megat Junid served as a teacher in Kedah and that was where I met him. He married the daughter of Hj Mohd Shuib ( Dato) the former State Secretary of Kedah and was caught up like many teachers then in the tide of political awareness. He began his political career as special assistant to Dr Mahathir Mohamad rising to become the Minister of Domestic Trade and Commerce Affairs in 1997. At times when I came across him either at conferences or informal gatherings, it was always cordial and humane,givng his time to greet old friends with candour.
Next we were aware of his critical situation with doctors tending their best hoping the ex President of Indonesia Mohammed Suharto would show signs of recovery. Alas his prolonged illness and intensive care by specialists also invoked questions of the right or correct thing to do either religiously or medically. We realise that under normal circumstances doctors would advise if a patient should be brought home or medical care extended. Suharto a fighter to the last and one of the famous son of Indonesia succumbed to multiple organ failures on Sunday 27 January 2008. I do not know Suharto personally like I knew the others but I can never forget the occassion when the Indonesian delegates flew in to Alor Star to meet Tunku Abdul Rahman at his Residence in Jalan Putra Alor Star. They arrived with the express agreement from President Suharto to end Confrontation and placed Malaysia and Indonesia on a new pedestal of friendship. The man held the helm of his country for 32 years ( 1966 - 1998) . A poor peasants son who rose to be the leader of the world's most populous Muslim nation, Suharto reportedly felt comfortable with the rural folks of his country.
Surely their families and homes will observe the normal rememberance and recite prayers according to our practice on days and nights after their burials. We would like-wise offer our condolences by reciting the necessary verses in memory of their souls. Al Fatihah