15th February 1998
It was a clear, cool (by Kuala Lumpur's standard, that is) Sunday evening, on Jan
25 this year when Tun Haniff Omar and I talked - as we never talked - of our 1954
classmates at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) during berbukapuasa in the second-level
garden by the swimming pool of Education Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's sprawling
residence at Jalan Duta.
NajIb didn't attend MCKK (he went to St. John's Institution) although his younger
brother Johari did, like their father and grandfather.
Another classmate Anuar Jusoh (Pekan, Pahang), known as "Joe the Silent",
a practicing lawyer, was also present as were many mutual friends and acquaintances
in government and the private sector.
Haniff was stunned when I told him that another classmate had died. "Who?"
he anxiously asked. I told him. Anuar Yahya of Kuala Kubu Baru, thus reducing the
number to eighteen still around.
The death of Colonel Arffin Muda (Kuala Trengganu) our military attache in Jakarta,
and Lieutenant General Datuk Nik Mahmood Fakharuddin Kamil (Kota Baru), the deputy
Chief of Army, were well reported in the media but Anuar's was not.
Anuar returned from Britain without completing his degree course in civil engineering
because of "personal problems". He never really had a regular job and stayed
until his death with his parents who were relatively well-off, a retired director
of land and mines and his headmistress mother, a hospitable and gracious lady.
Though small, physically, Anuar was a good sportsman. He was particularly good in
hockey and besides playing for the college he also represented the Victoria Institution
(VI) when he was a Sixth Form student there. All three would have been sixty plus
had they lived.
In our conversation we recalled fondly about the departed and those still alive.
Hanfff said he never met Ibrahim Mat ("Tua") (Kangar, Perlis) and Mohamad
Noor (Kuala Kubu), and Mohamad Nasir bin Talib (Rembau) since we parted in late December
44 years ago.
Ibrahim, a good fullback in MCKK's first eleven soccer team retired as a storekeeper,
Mohamad Noor, a rubber replanting inspector, and Nasir's last job was that of a school
Nasir was fondly called "Buncit". Most of us have nicknames.
None, I am glad, was derisive. Despite being ealled Buncit, Nasir was not
as pot-bellied as conjured by his nickname. We gave him the nickname because he was
fond of drinking cold water in the middle of the night when we were in B dormitory
at the Prep school, a habit he discontinued in higher forms but Buncit stuck.
We then believed drinking too much water would make one's stomach bulge!
Although all of us are now compulsorily retired, a few, like Haniff and I, are at
what might be called the awkward stage of our life (being healthy and active) to
do nothing. So, he and I and a few others have begun a second career. The former
policeman has become a business tycoon and I, you know what.
Abdul Wahid Shamsuddin (Tapah) the former deputy director-general of the Anti-Corruption
Agency (ACA) first became a courtier at Istana Negara after retirement, and now,
I understand, runs his own business, Abu Bakar Mahmud (Temerloh), otherwise known
as "Buku", (bookworm), I hope, is writing his memoirs especially
about his special assignment in Taipeh now that Taiwan seems to be in vogue economically-speaking
in Southeast Asia following the Asian economic meltdown; Abdul Razak Bahaman (Kuala
Pilah) whose goatee beared is becoming whiter and his pocket deeper still runs his
lucrative engineering firm, architect Razak Hitam (Malacca) plays golf all over the
world having made enough money in Johor and Negri Sembilan to do so and has always
been a good sportsman; Abdullah Bakri (Menette from Tales of Two Cities) Wahab
(Seremban), a successful architect together with his wife, Khalidah Mohamad, a jeweller,
is busy making money.
I understand that Rawi "Baka" Abdul Rahman (Kota Baru), spends more time
at his neighbourhood mosque than anywhere else. (This Kirkby-trained teacher was
a clever student who somehow never made it to university), Sidek (Tembam) Embong
(Kuala Terengganu), also a former teacher and a sportsman, might have achieved more
had he worked in Kuala Lumpur; Mokhzani Abdul Rahim (Arau), a globe-trotting businessman
(annually to Geneva) should now stop traversing the earth, and start putting pen
to paper, at least about his time teaching economics at Universiti Malaya when it
was a premier institution and a sought-after place of higher learning.
Syed Zainal Wafa "Arab" (Kuala Kangsar) runs a private clinic in Langkawi
after teaching medicine at University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and subsequently,
as a private practitioner, specialising in looking after Bangladeshi immigrants and
remains the only friend I know who still guzzles gulai tempoyak! He did it
when he was married to an Irish woman and living in Northern Ireland in the sixties
when I visited them.