Writing a memoir is a painful pleasure

14 June 1998

... continued from page 1

My secretary will type, e-mail or fax them to their destinations. I have caused much pain to my secretary because my writing is quite illegible. I am using the word "quite" in the American English sense, the opposite meaning of English English.

In the Queen's English, when someone says you are quite good" you should hide your disappointment because he is not being generous or enthusiastic; it is something like "good, but not very good".

Despite the handicap, I should finish the two books.

The real problem may arise in ferreting out old documents besides selecting from vast sources of material which subsumed Razak's time and life.

Malaysians who were young when Razak died and those who were born during or after the year of his death (1976) know little if at all about Razak, and are only marginally aware of the policies he put in place that brought vast changes to the nation

As a people we are not very history-conscious unlike the Europeans, Americans, Japanese and Chinese who while they chase money and material comforts are concerned with the history of their nations and the lives and times of their leaders. We tend to be too concerned with our immediate needs and problems. We do not seem to be much bothered how we are perceived as a nation.

Distinguished Malaysians, such as Tun Ismail Ali, Tun Mohamed Sufflian Hashim, Tun Omar Ong Yoke Lin, Raja Tan'Sri Mohar, Datuk Robert Kuok, Royal Prof Ungku Aziz, Tan Sri Ahmad Ibrahim, Tan Sri Lee Siew Yee, Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong and many others should write their autobiographies or memoirs. The stories of their lives would inspire Young Malaysians.

H.G. Wells undertook a laborious scholarship at age 70 which earned him his D.Sc. (Doctor of Science).

These illustrious Malaysians have done many things and achieved distinctions but they have not done onething - written any book about themselves. Others should have. It would be a good gesture to Young Malaysians if they would oblige.

Like my colleagues, I remember, I shall not forget my unwarranted arrest and detention while I live. After 22 years, I still cannot think about what happened over again. Maybe it will heal after I finish my book.

Dato' Abdullah Ahmad is Malaysia's Special Envoy to the United Nations

(This article has been reproduced with the kind permission of Sun )