Saturday, September 06, 2008

A. Samad Ismail

National Journalism Laureate, A. Samad Ismail, passed away at the age of 84, last Thursday.

Fondly known as Pak Samad in the writing and journalistic circles, he has been described as guru by many a journalist and writers alike. But he was more than that. He was a nationalist. He was one of the last few surviving national freedom fighters. He was a man who helped shape the history of our nation.

I have never really experienced Pak Samad’s writings. Yes, being a science stream student during my secondary education has its draw backs. One of which is the dearth of exposure to local literary works. I must confess that I have never completed reading any of his novels. Not even the much heard of “Patah Sayap Terbang Jua” (shame on you, Azizi).

But I know Pak Samad is a great man.

I have seen – somewhere – his photo with the late Tun Razak on a trip to London as part of the team which negotiated our independence from the British. I heard that he started writing against the colonial masters whilst still young. I also know that he has a soft spot for the poor and the down-trodden. A characteristic which once led to him being branded – totally unfairly – as a communist!

I have read Lat’s book “Lat 30 Years Later” in which he described his first meeting with Pak Samad at Balai Berita office in Jalan Riong. And of how Pak Samad told him off once because his writing was lousy (although his drawings had improved).

After I started this blog, I also started reading other blogs. And that's when I stumbled upon Nuraina Samad's blog and got to know the man closer. Nuraina blogged about her Bapak every Tuesday.

So, another towering figure of the nation is gone.

Looking at the current crop of journalists and writers, I can’t help feeling sorry for Malaysia. I just wonder when the next journalist extraordinaire in the mould of Pak Samad will come our way. If ever.

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