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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Tan Sri Samad A. Ismail Passes Away at 84

by Suzan Abrams

One of Malaysia's most prominent senior journalists and early nationalistic freedom fighter, Tan Sri Abdul Samad Ismail, has passed away at the age of 84 after being warded in hospital, almost10 days ago, for a lung and blood infection. This eventually resulted in multiple organ failure. Earlier, it was reported that recovery was possible although the longtime advocate of human rights, stayed weak.

The famous award-winning columnist and editorial advisor affectionately known as Pak Samad, started life as a cub reporter at 16 with Utusan Melayu, a popular Malay newspaper and was trained by the powerful literary figure, Abdul Rahim Kajai, who was known as the Father of Malay Journalism.

Tan Sri Samad was also reputed to be one of Malaysia's best bilingual journalists. His writings were literary and philosophical and his jokes and temperament volatile.

He also involved himself deeply with Malaya's struggle for national independence and was once imprisoned in 1951, by the British colonial administration in Singapore for alleged communist activities. Although released in 1952, Samad was never brought to trial.

Despite his 48 years as a journalist, Samad managed to pen 11 novels, four books on journalism and writing and two collections of short stories. His novels in Malay titled Patah Sayap Terbang Jua ( Flying High on a Broken Wing) and Tembok Tiada Tinggi (The Fort Isn't Tall) spoke of his experiences before and during the Japanese occupation and during a time of imprisonment.

I feel broken-hearted on having heard the news here in Dublin, as some part of an old and romantic Malay culture in days long gone but still remembered; appears to have fled the world with this brilliant fearless gentleman.

Here you may read an orbituary in the New Straits Times today - Malaysia's national newspaper - on the finer nuances of this writer's life.

Rest in peace, Pak Samad.

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