3 June 1998

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He was an amateur palmist. I could not recall having my palms read by one before. He insisted on reading my palms.

Smiling ( I can't seem to recall when he was not), he said "Dollah. You will do well. Razak is fond of you, however, you must be careful of one man within our circle who has evil intention towards you.

He made me wonder a good few hours afterwards who could be that be, but I soon forgot all about that.

Then, others started telling me stories and finally in December 1975, Dr. Lim Chong Eu (now Tun), when we were both in Hong Kong, told me who that man was. During our meeting at the Peninsula Hotel, he told me, "Dollah, I hope you are aware that Razak (he always called him that among friends) is quite sick. You listen to me carefully. I am a doctor. Razak is dying but he is a brave man and fighting the debilitating illness bravely. If he dies suddenly, it won't be too long before he
(the evil man) would find ways to put you in prison."

He disclosed the name, "Ghulam", thus confirming what three other very senior ministers who were very close to me had told me before I left for Japan with my wife who had been invited to launch MISC's ship, the Bunga Setawar.

We talked as we never did before over English tea.

A month later, almost to days, Razak died in London on Jan 14, 1976 and what Chong Eu predicted happened when I was detained in the early morning of Nov 2, 1976.

Four or five other MIC leaders became my good friends, two have dies since. Tan Sri V. Manickavasagam, who succeeded Sambanthan as president of MIC, was one of them. I first met him together with Osman Aroff, security officer at the Malaysian Embassy in Washington, in 1960 when I was on a course there.

Manickavasagam was on a visit and after dinner in his honour by the ambassador, Tan Sri Nik Ahmad Kamil, he invited me and Osman (who later became Menteri Besar of Kedah) to see a show in Baltimore which was then considered a "sin city" of Maryland, not far from the American capital).

There were long protracted latent negotiations between Sambanthan, Razak and Manickavasagam (occasionally Razak would ask me to say what he could not or would not say to both) which led to Sambanthan's resignation at the end of June, 1973.

The other MIC leader who became a friend was Athi Nahappan. MIC's number two under Manickavasagam. He was a journalist before becoming a successful lawyer and politician. The third is the former "Post Laju" minister, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu. We became good friends when he was a back bencher and remain on good terms even today.

As long as Barisan Nasional remains committed and strong, Malaysians have little to fear. Razak formed the Barisan Nasional to respond to the challenges to Malaysians of all races and the nation. Through good times and adversity we have risen to the occasion remarkable well.

Next spring the Barisan Nasional will be celebrating its silver jubilee (1974-1999) and by then Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohammad will have been 18 years at the helm of the ruling party - still one year short of Tunku's unbroken record of 19 years as the leader of UMNO.

Forty years ago, all the races have become loyal Malaysians. No doubt about it. As more intermarriages take place, their children will become even better Malaysians who will do their nation proud.

The next political leadership, I hope will not reconstruct the Malaysian nation and alter the image of the country.

Our political landscape is bright. What we must do quickly s to regalvanize and remotivate our people. If Mahathir can do it he will have achieved another major feat in his long political career. I know that he will not falter.

Well Mahathir had faced political risks before and won. If you have done your homework well, you would not have to wrestle with any dilemmas.

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

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