The Reluctant Policitian – Book Review

Venue: Valentine Willie, Jalan Telawi Tiga, Bangsar

Moderator: Rocky Bru

Corum: Ooi Kee Beng, Tawfek, Datuk Ron & Pak Idrus

It rained cats and dogs yesterday evening and I was half an hour late. Fellow bloggers were there, inter alia – Kak Ena, Zorro, Stephen, Sheih, June, BigDog, A Voice, Mat Salo, Husna, Rusdi, Shar101 &  AlliedMaster.

The book review was average. I was actually expecting Dr. Ooi Kee Beng to be more eloquent and spirited about his experience in writing the book. However, Dr. Ooi is a very calm writer; so  I was a tad sleepy. The rain didn’t help the sleepiness though. And I have Stephen sitting beside me, positively longing for his beer.

Few quotes I managed to jot on my notebook are as follows:-

Pak Idrus noted “instead of reading Hang Tuah they should be reading this in school.”

Datuk Ron claimed “Tun Dr. Ismail is still the greatest leader of our time.”

Me? I have to agree with BigDog- why must Dr. Ooi asserted the paragraph about Tunku Abdul Rahman being a drinker and a gambler? It has no relevancy to the book. As for the history of Malaysia, I am of the view that it gives a clearer picture in so far as the state of emergency is concerned. Other than that, it’s much ado about nothing. A refreshing read nonetheless especially the first chapter about the life of young Dr. Ismail in Australia. 

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13 thoughts on “The Reluctant Policitian – Book Review

  1. If the book were to be a historical reference of a great nationalist and statesman, for future generations, then there are details which will arouse sensitivities for some people, should be omitted. These details do not add to the strength of the main issues projected.

    We live and co-exist in a multicultural and multi-faith mixed complex society. Lets work on integration and unity, not divisive elements that we actually can do without and do not add salient values to the case presented.

    I am for one, had very little understanding of the Mighty Tun Dr. Ismail. He died when I was barely five. I was unable to read newspaper back then and when I saw the TV, I did not understand also. So this book, is one of the rare books about him.

    Lets work to make it better, for future readers (much like me) to appreciate the greatness of the man for his strength, not how many beers he bought his long time friend Phillip Kuok!

    Dearest BigDog, the book of course gave a clearer picture of what Tun Dr Ismail had done for the future generation. Despite how many beers he bought for Philip Kuok, he still is one of the greatest forefather we have. Good day my friend. See you on tuesday

  2. Excellent review there E Michele K… :)

    I’m workin’ on something a long the same lines. Some things I’m at odds with both the author Ooi and Tawfiq the Son…

    In the meantime…

    Tahniah! Anda telah memenangi “Thinking Blogger Award”. Harap ambil blog-sticker anda serta “list of rules” yang tertera di blog saya!’ Harap Maklum!

    Ewah ewah….. awak tag kan kita yer….

  3. Elviza dear, you wrote: “Me? I have to agree with BigDog- why must Dr. Ooi asserted the paragraph about Tunku Abdul Rahman being a drinker and a gambler?”

    The late Tunku’s love for whiskey and horses was no big secret but yet he did command a great deal of respect in the international Islamic community. I believe to deny the truth now would be disrespectful to the great man and makes us no better than our “responsible” local media which for many years have decided what the rakyat should and should not read about.

    Dearest Captain Mariner Sir! I know it isnt a big secret and it has nothing to do with the Tunku’s contribution in achieving independence. It is a book, not a report and I am of the view that if the writer spare this information – it doesnt make him irresponsible. My only issue is that I could not see the relavance of this in Tun Dr. Ismail’s biography. Other than that this book is good for young Malaysians to understand the struggle and sacrifices made by our forefathers. Good day Sir.

  4. hi elviza,

    alamak… u beat me to it.

    but thanks for sharing your view of the book and the discussion.
    i thought it wa good that we got to meet Dr Ooi and TDI’s eldest son, Tawfik who made it all happen.

    Better late than never (the book, i mean).

    I have never met TDI although he was guest of honour at Kak Ton’s wedding. Bapak had this knack of NOT inviting the PM for his children’s wedding. He would invite the deputy.

    But, I will not forget him for many things that he had done for this country. And for my family. He helped us get our Malaysian citizenship.

    May Allah SWT bless his soul.

    Oh dont worry Kak Ena, I am sure your review would be miles more insightful than mine! Wow, he came to Kak Ton’s wedding? This Bapak personality is really intriguing you know.

    Of course, semoga Allah mencucuri rahmat ke atas Tun Dr. Ismail who helped shaping my future, our future.

  5. Saya masih budak sekolah ketika Tun Dr Ismail kembali untuk bertemu Kekasihnya.

    Satu-satunya perkara yang menarik perhatian saya bila membaca akhbar waktu itu ialah Tun mempunyai tempat sembahyang khas di pejabatnya.

    Perkara itu yang menyebabkan saya sangat menghormati Tun. Bila dah besaq ni (memang besaq sungguh!), barulah saya tau banyak lagi perkara yang menggamit rasa hormat saya kepadanya.

    Mudah-mudahan Tun berada dalam keampunan dan kasih sayang Kekasihnya.

    Salam Sang Kutu, he he he….besaq mana? Mudah-mudahan Tun Dr. Ismail dicucuri rahmat oleh Kekasihnya…

  6. I personally do not believe in selective writing when it comes to a person’s life. Facts are facts and history is pure recording of cold facts without taint. The good, the bad and the ugly need to be told and that collectively makes the biography even more human and gives it authenticity. No one is all saint and all devil, yours truly included. We are a little bit of both but what’s important is the consistent core character of the individual for what he believes in and stands for. His harshest judge will be his actions – measured against his character.

    My overall takeout of the book (my review will be out soon) is that Tun Dr Ismail was a man of principle who served without fear or favour. He may be ill, yet he sacrificed himself for the country. He may be stern yet he was fair. He may be powerful yet he did not abuse his power. I only have admiration for the man. Who in our current league of leaders can measure up to an iota of this great Reluctant Politician?

    i wish i was present at the Bangsar’s session for i have two questions to ask Mr. Ooi Kee Beng. Why was Tun Dr Mahathir not interviewed. Why was Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim not interviewed?

    Can anyone fill me in? Many thanks in advance.

    Hi Eric, havent seen you for quite sometimes. You must be busy. TDM was too busy to slot a time for Dr. Ooi – thats what he said. See ya soon

  7. Methinks many of our young ones have been brainwashed into accepting the 13th May bogey often used by the establishment to screw the non Malays big time all these years.

    This reminds me of the joke about the 1969 National Operations Council (NOC) and what it meant to the various communities then:

    Malays: Now ‘s Our Chance !

    Chinese: No Other Choice

    Indians: Not Our Country

    Dearest Captain Mariner Sir, really? that was the joke at that time? Thanks for sharing it with us!

  8. Salam to Elviza.

    Matsalo did ask me to attend the reading but unfortunately me and CGOPD had a reunion dinner.

    TDI was a great person with a great personality. I remember his passing was a shock in the Taiping Malay community. Like bakaq said, the Malay folks in Taiping was impressed TDI performed his solat in office( during that time we kids were told that “banyak orang politik tak ambil kesah tentang sembahyang”). So for the rural folks TDI is different. He was a HERO.

    Dearest TA, as I said, the book is a refreshing read. Gave us a true account of what Tun Dr. Ismail had done to the country. Pak Idrus said, younger generation nowadays only heard of Tun Dr Ismail when they recall Taman Tun!

  9. the gambling and drinking part is a small but important metaphor to tell us Tun is humane afterall, we could relate and admit our own flaws but despite our cravings Tun showed us we could achieve great things in life.

    or maybe Mr. Ooi is raring for a good ol brandy to warm himself up since it was, like you descripted, ‘raining cats and dogs’… aiyar, how can ya’ll ‘not’ get the cue? lolx
    jst kd, Mr. Ooi.

    Dear MOB, course he’s human after all but the book could go on without it, it is after all a biography of Tun Dr. Ismail not Tunku. See ya soon

  10. Friends, I live through that period, drinking is a norm at that time, so I think it is a good idea of including this episode. This would give the future generation some understanding that in those days we had more freedom to socialized and yet we had quality leadership. The gambling part, that is the real Tunku, everyone of my generation knows that.

    This is the first book on the great Tun Dr.Ismail and to me it is indeed a job well done, do read it. There would be other books on Him in the future. Like all history books, one book does not tell all, so let see that more books are written on our leaders.

    As for not interviewing Tun Dr.Mahathir, Dr. Ooi did explain, do read my blog and as for Anwar Ibrahim, Anwar was just one of the Student/Youth leader at that time and not in the political arena as yet.

    One important contribution of Tun Dr. Ismail is to convert the British Army Camp in Penang into the USM. Had it not been for him it would remain a Military camp now.

    I am glad that it is Dr.Ooi who got to write the biography, someone neutral. If not we would see another race centric book. This book is Malaysian centric like the late Tun who believe and practice Malaysian centric value. Have a nice day.

    Pak Idrus, I am so honoured to have you here. Thanks for taking time to jot your views on this topic.

  11. Can’t seem to add more to what’s been written here but for what it’s worth, Rocky’s personal conclusion at the end of the review was apt.

    “Whether the book should have been published here instead of Singapore, it’s better that the book got published at all”.

    Let future generations have access to it, revise, refine, re-evaluate it’s historical significance, relevance and all the other ‘re..re..re’ there are.

    P.S. We need better info on directions, please, on future book reviews. Got lost for an hour, looking for a ‘downstairs’ location. Thank God for mobile phones and Zorro answering my call.

  12. To Pak Idrus, who said:

    “… as for Anwar Ibrahim, Anwar was just one of the Student/Youth leader at that time and not in the political arena as yet.”

    i agree but he was confronted by Tun Dr Ismail himself and driven off in a Black Maria incident outside the gate of UM. That must have had left an indelible impression on the young activist, and, in later years he did rise to become the Deputy PM before the unfortunate befell him.

    His take of Tun, whatever that may have been, would have corroborated some facts about Tun to a lesser degree; and to a greater degree some insight of himself as a PKR advisor now.

    i sincerely believe Mr. Ooi missed an opportunity for Malaysians to really get to know the mind of DSAI better in today’s political situation.

    my thanks nevertheless for your input, Pak Idrus.

  13. You wrote: “Me? I have to agree with BigDog- why must Dr. Ooi asserted the paragraph about Tunku Abdul Rahman being a drinker and a gambler?”
    Not only that but he also mentioned that Tun Ismail drinks, had pre marital sex and also had dogs.
    Tunku was like his drinking buddy!
    Now that to drinkers thats a very special connection. Like the smokers fraternity but a lot more. sigh i cant explain it. but yes i get the meaning behind it ie Tun Ismail and Tunku had a VERY special relationship.
    It doesnt make me like less of Tunku nor Tun Ismail. They are great men just the way they are whatever their “perceived” perfections and imprefections are to us. And those too, to each his/her own… :)

    Thanks for the thought Sharizal

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