21 March 1999

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One thing, I have learned in life is that the favourites do not always win.

In politics, especially in palace intrigues, everything is fair.

The image problem, unless attended to, can grow into a fatal liability However, Najib is a better communicator and sound bite savvy than did his dad.

Razak, too, was plagued by rumours of different nature but we confronted them head-on by degrading it. Soon the rumour mills diminished.

We overcame it without having to be a "good provider" if you knew what I mean. All the Razak past, and only after 23 years, has been nearly swallowed up.

Without decent and readable books - forget about a lasting and definitive judgment - it will soon be completely forgotten.

It is sad when this happens to the man who with an unrelenting vigour conducted the war against poverty as a personal crusade.

He knew poverty because he grew amidst it.

In the war against deprivation and degradation he never lacked power and the result is self-evident.

He presided (unwillingly) as Director of Operations following the May 13 incident.

He worked unceasingly and with a corresponding determination for the return to parliamentary democracy. It was he who enlarged the Alliance Party to become Barisan Nasional in 1974.

Political memories are short. Even at the best of times people's (especially Malaysians) could go back to only their grandparents.

A nation or a people without writing and literature will be left without history other than legends - no documents, no texts. What our mothers tell us are not good enough.

I am only telling you something which is true. The best kind and the sincerest form of homage to Razak's memory is for some one credible to write a book about him as he was.

But to understand the real Razak and not the myth, we will have to know more than what we have learned, which is dismally little so far.

No doubt Razak was powerful but there existed in his shadow persons who wielded influence if not power "behind the scenes."

Their power was derivative but did it matter?

I realise only after having finished this that I needn't have written this article. Razak did not get into books, even paper backs.

Like the "Founding Father" Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, he has disappeared in the national memory

Razak and Tunku have faded away. But I have not forgotten either because their lives are part of my history.

No demitive books on Razak or Tunku (because there is none) except for collections of articles (Tunku) and a collection of early speeches (Razak) are on my bookshelves.

The print and pages are fading because they used cheap paper and cheap ink.

But the subjects they both spoke are as relevant then as they are now.

I heard Razak delivered most of the collected speeches. I wrote a couple of them; the rest by bureaucrats of various ability, commitment and integrity.

I read it, but knew of no one who had I am not altogether surprised if there were only very few copies of it in Malaysian libraries.

I know for certain there is none in Malaysian bookshops or at the United Nations Library

(Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad is our envoy to the United Nations)