24 January 1999

The Malaysian icon, Tun Abdul Razak, suddenly died of leukemia in London on Jan 14 twenty three years ago.

Because it was Razak's funeral on Jan 16, 1976, I did not hesitate to take my two young children - Adha, 7 and Hamida (Didi) 6 to the lying-in-state at the Parliament House.

I wanted them to see how a grateful nation mourned and honoured a distinguished icon and statesman.

There were not too many people in Malaysian public life then I would take my young son and daughter to see much less attend their funerals.

I did not want to loose the opportunity to impress upon them that Razak was a great statesman. Even now there are few in public life I would take my grandchildren to see.

The fond tribute the nation and Malaysians poured on Razak moved me to tears. Didi asked, "Why are you crying daddy? Do you like him? " I nodded. She and her brother gripped my hands and consoled me in their young way and manner.

Thousand of Malaysians went to the Prime Minister's official residence, "Seri Perdana, in Taman Tasek and most pressed into the lounge where the body lay in their grief and longing to see Razak's body, which arrived from London the previous afternoon.

The people filled fast him in the open coffin which only showed his face. Then it was closed and taken to Parliament for the lying-in-state where even more people paid their respects and then to Masjid Negara for prayers and burial.

It had been rumoured that he was unwell for some time and recent pictures on TV had shown Razak gaunt ( a sign he had lost much weight) and desolate.

Some time in November, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed then Education Minister asked me if I knew anything serious was the matter. He gave me his medical opinion.

I then asked Razak about his health. He said I need not worry because he was only suffering from jaundice and all would be well after his treatment, which he was planning to have in London in December

I was assured because in my long relationship with him, he had confided so many things to me. There was no reason to disbelieve him.

The seriousness and the nature of his disease was a top state-secret, known only to one or two doctors and Tun Dr. Ismail bin Abdul Rahman, the Deputy Prime Minister, before Datuk Hussein Onn. Neither his family nor his senior and close aides and Hussein knew.

Before he left for Paris for a brief holiday enroute to London in December, I had a long discussion with him in his study at Seri Taman.