20
Jun
10

 

INTRODUCING KALSOM TAIB

The Shafee Yahya Story

 
 
 
 

 

 

Datin Kalsom Taib dan Dato’ Shafee Yahya

Rakan Taulan Saya – Lama dan Baru

Tuan2 dan Puan2 Yang Saya Hormati Sekelian

 

SALAM SEJAHTERA PADA PETANG YANG MULIA INI, YANG SUNGGUH BERMAKNA KERANA KITA AKAN MENYAKSIKAN PELANCARAN BUKU YANG DITULIS OLEH SEORANG ISTERI BAGI MENGIMBAS LIKU HIDUP SUAMINYA!

PADA SAYA, TIDAK ADA SESUATU YANG LEBIH MULIA DARIPADA KASIH SAYANG, KESETIAAN DAN JASA YANG DIHULURKAN KEPADA IBU BAPA, SUAMI ISTERI  SERTA ANAK CUCU YANG BERKONGSI HIDUP DENGAN KITA.

WHEN KALSOM ASKED IF I WOULD INTRODUCE HER AS THE AUTHOR OF THE BOOK DEDICATED TO HER BELOVED SHAFEE, I DID NOT HESITATE AT ALL. I CONSIDER IT AN HONOUR TO SPEAK ABOUT KALSOM – A DAUGHTER, WIFE, MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER WHO HAS DONE HER FAMILY PROUD IN DOCUMENTING THEIR LEGACY. 

THE SHAFEE YAHYA STORY IS KALSOM’S THIRD BIOGRAPHY IN 3 YEARS – AFTER TAIB ANDAK: IN A CLASS OF HIS OWN PUBLISHED IN DECEMBER 2008, AND  ZAINAB AHMAD: A TRULY REMARKABLE WOMAN PUBLISHED SIX MONTHS LATER IN MAY 2009.

IF THIS IS NOT PROLIFIC WRITING WHAT IS? HOW DO YOU DO IT KALSOM? YOU ARE DEFINITELY NOT THE ACCIDENTAL WRITER YOU CLAIM TO BE!

OF ALL THE LITERARY GENRES, THE BIOGRAPHY IS PERHAPS THE MOST EXHAUSTIVE – AND EXHAUSTING AS KALSOM’S EFFORTS SHOW. THE AMOUNT OF RESEARCH THAT HAS GONE INTO THE BOOKS ON HER FATHER, MOTHER AND NOW HUSBAND IS TREMENDOUS. MINUTE DETAILS ABOUT PEOPLE, PLACES AND EVENTS HAVE BEEN DOGGEDLY UNCOVERED AND DESCRIBED IN ORDER OF CHRONOLOGY OR SIGNIFICANCE.

ALL THIS REQUIRES A DISCIPLINE AND A DILIGENCE PLUS THE WRITING SKILLS WHICH CAN BE NURTURED ONLY IF YOU TRULY BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND YOUR SUBJECT MATTER; ONLY IF YOU ARE CONVINCED THERE ARE PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO WILL FIND YOUR WORK INTERESTING OR IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO READ.

FROM MY EXPERIENCE, WRITING A BOOK ESPECIALLY ONE WITH A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE IS NOT AS EASY AS WRITING LETTERS TO THE EDITOR OR A COLUMN IN THE NEWSPAPER. MY CO-WRITER ZAINAB ABDUL MAJID WILL VOUCH FOR THE ENDLESS READING WE HAD TO DO AND REFERENCES WE HAD TO MAKE IN THE TWO YEARS OF RESEARCH; AND THE TEDIOUS ORGANISATION OF MATERIALS, CHECKING AND RECHECKING OF FACTS AND DATA, THE WRITING AND REWRITING, EDITING AND PROOFREADING IN THE LAST SIX MONTHS OF THE PROJECT. ALHAMDULILLAH OUR BOOK IMAGES OF THE JAWI PERANAKAN OF PENANG WAS PUBLISHED IN 2004 – A LABOUR OF LOVE FROM ZAINAB, A TRUE-BLUE MAMI PULAU PINANG AND ME, AN AFFILIATE MAMI BY VIRTUE OF BEING MARRIED TO ZAIN.

BUT I’M SURE KALSOM WILL AGREE THAT THE TASK OF DOCUMENTING SHAFEE’S LIFE AND TIMES IS MORE THAN JUST A LABOUR OF LOVE. IT IS CERTAINLY NO LOVE’S LABOUR LOST. IT WAS A LABORIOUS JOURNEY BUT ONE THAT IS WORTH EVERY EFFORT YA KALSOM! FOR A WRITER THERE’S NOTHING MORE FULFILLING THAN SEEING YOUR LINGUISTIC OUTPOURINGS PUBLISHED FOR POSTERITY.    

HOWEVER – A WORD OF WARNING TO SHAFEE AND ALL YOU GUYS OUT THERE! A WIFE DOESN’T WRITE A BOOK ON HER HUSBAND OUT OF SHEER DEVOTION LET ME ASSURE YOU. THERE IS AN UNDERLYING EXPECTATION – OF APPRECIATION IF NOT GRATITUDE, OF ACKNOWLEDGEMENT IF NOT RECIPROCITY! SO SHAFEE, GET CRACKING! SHARPEN YOUR WORDPROCESSING SKILLS TO WRITE THAT ONE AMAZING BOOK OR ENDURING POEM ON KALSOM SIMPLY ENTITLED MY LOVE, MY LIFE.

I’VE KNOWN KALSOM A LONG TIME – SINCE THE 70S WHEN I WAS A  RELUCTANT SCHOOL TEACHER AND SHE, A FORMIDABLE CORPORATE EXECUTIVE. I MUST ADMIT THAT AS THE WIFE OF A SHELL MAN WHOSE MAIN ROLE WAS TO BE DEMURE AT COMPANY COCKTAILS,  I WAS IN AWE OF KALSOM’S FORAY INTO THE GIANT MULTINATIONAL, AND LATER THE EASE WITH WHICH SHE MOVED TO MMC AND THEN NESTLE. IN THIS SHE WAS A PIONEER AND A TOWERING MALAY WOMAN!

POST- RETIREMENT, KALSOM ONCE AGAIN SHOWS THAT SHE IS A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE AND TRUE GRIT AS SHE MAKES HER MARK IN THE PUBLISHING WORLD. IT’S EASY ENOUGH TO SLIP INTO ONE’S COMFORT ZONE ON RETIREMENT BUT KALSOM HAS CHOSEN TO CHALLENGE HERSELF IN A NEW AREA – AS AN AUTHOR IN HER OWN RIGHT.

I’M RATHER EMBARRASSED TO ADMIT THAT I HAD ACTUALLY GIVEN KALSOM TIPS ON HOW TO APPROACH HER FATHER’S BIOGRAPHY IN 2008 AS I WAS THEN READY WITH THE RESEARCH AND CHAPTERS OUTLINE OF MY OWN WRITING PROJECT. NOW 3 YEARS ON – AFTER AN ENTHUSIASTIC SPURT OF MEETINGS AND INTERVIEWS I’VE KIND OF REGRESSED. I’M STILL MULLING OVER WHAT PERSPECTIVE I SHOULD TAKE. I STILL WORRY ABOUT BEING TOO BIASED IN INTERPRETING MY FATHER’S LIFE AND TIMES. TUN AHMAD SARJI, TAN SRI ABDULLAH, DATO’ ABDULLAH, DATO’ ZAINAL  – PERHAPS THIS IS JUST MY EXCUSE.

ON PAGE 330 KALSOM ADMITS “ I SEE SHAFEE WITH BIASED EYES, HAVING BEEN MARRIED TO HIM FOR 43 YEARS”. INDEED, MEMOIRS AND BIOGRAPHIES ARE SUBJECTIVE WRITINGS WHICH REPRESENT THE WRITER’S INTERPRETATION OF AND PERSPECTIVE ON THE PROTAGONIST’S PERSONALITY AND CHARACTER, EXPERIENCES, THOUGHTS AND CONVICTIONS. NO TWO WRITERS WILL APPROACH THE SAME SUBJECT IN THE SAME WAY. FOR ONE, THEIR LANGUAGE USE WILL BE DIFFERENT. I’M REMINDED OF A THEORY I STUDIED IN THE 80S – THE THEORY OF RELEVANCE WHICH SAYS THAT THE  HUMAN MIND IS SELECTIVE IN INTERPRETING THE MYRIAD INFORMATION IT HAS ACCESS TO. IT TENDS TO FOREGROUND AND PROCESS INFORMATION THAT IS MOST RELEVANT TO IT.

DATO’ SHAFEE’S LIFE AND TIMES HAVE BEEN COMPREHENSIVELY COLLATED INCLUDING THE VIEWS AND OPINIONS OF FAMILY, FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES WHO KNEW/ KNOW HIM WELL. THEY ARE FAITHFULLY PRESENTED BY DATIN KALSOM WHO WRITES AS SHE SPEAKS – CLEARLY AND DIRECTLY WITHOUT AFFECTATION. IT WILL BE INTERESTING TO GET THE REACTION OF HER READERS AND REVIEWERS ESPECIALLY ON THE 4 “HOT” CHAPTERS 10-14. WE WON’T BE SURPRISED KALSOM AND SHAFEE IF THERE IS INDEED A FORMAL REBUTTAL!

FINALLY, IT IS GRATIFYING TO SEE APT QUOTATIONS, MALAY PANTUN AND VERSES FROM THE QURAN PRECEDING EACH CHAPTER AND INTERSPERSED IN BETWEEN THE SECTIONS.

THEY SERVE TO REMIND US THAT IN THE END IT IS ALLAH’S TRUTH THAT PREVAILS AS WE PUNY HUMANS GRAPPLE WITH AND STRIVE TO INTEPRET THE “HALF-TRUTHS, HALF-LIES AND WHITE LIES” THAT SURROUND OUR LIVES. THEY REMIND US THAT MAN’S HOPES AND DREAMS ARE BUT INTERPRETATIONS OF GOD’S GREATER VISION.

WABILLAHI TAUFIK WAL HIDAAYAH

WASSALAAMUALAIKUM WARAHMATULLAHI WABARAKAATUH

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5 Responses to “”


  1. 1 dannalli
    June 21, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    For the benefit of those in this sphere who were unable to attend, this is the speech of YBM Tg Razaleigh during the launch …

    I consider this a special privilege to have been asked to associate myself with the launching of the book written by Datin Kalsom Taib about the life and career of her beloved husband, Dato Shafee Yahaya, “The Shafee Yahaya Story – Estate Boy to ACA Chief”. I find that she has written this book with great feelings and definitely from her heart and the writing style of the book makes it easy reading and I commend it to everyone.

    2. This book, I am sure, is written also because she was provoked by what has been said about her husband when he was Director of Anti-Corruption Agency. In this connection, I am also taking the liberty to speak to you on the subject of “Corruption”.

    CORRUPTION

    3. The word “corruption” comes from a Latin word meaning “to break” or “to destroy”. Corruption is a cancer that steals from the poor, eats away at governance and moral fibre, and destroys trust. Although corruption exists in both the private and public sector, the corruption of the public sector is a more fundamental evil. This is because the public sector is the enforcer and arbiter of the rules that hold us together, the custodians of our common resources.

    Corruption is the abuse of public office for personal gain.

    • Corruption exacts a huge toll on our economy

    o In a survey of more than 150 high ranking public officials and top citizens from over 60 developing nations, these officials ranked corruption as the biggest obstacle to development and growth in their countries.

    o Corruption empties out the public purse, causes massive misallocation of resources, dampens trade and scares away investors

    o The World Bank estimates that corruption can reduce a country’s growth rate by 0.5 to 1 percentage points per year. Where there is a lack of transparency and a weak court system, investors stay away.

    o Corruption is a form of theft. But it is a form of theft that also damages what is not stolen. This is because corruption involves the capture of decisions involving public funds. Corrupt decisions mis-allocate public resources and cause tremendous waste in the expenditure of public money. Public money is poured down the drain when projects are selected not because of the value they deliver to the public but because of what can be skimmed from them.

    • But corruption is more than an economic cost. It is a curse that attacks the root of the tree. Corruption destroys trust, which is nothing less than the glue holding a society and its institutions together. When it becomes rampant and is conducted with impunity, it also demoralise even those public servants not involved in it. The common people’s experience with government breeds the expectation that they need to pay before things will move. Small businesses suffer as city hall officials come on their rounds to collect mandatory “donations.”

    4. It is time we recognise corruption as the single biggest threat to our nation. In our economy, corruption is the root of our inability to make the economic leap that we know we are capable of. There is no other reason why a country so blessed with natural resources, a favourable climate and such immense talent should not have done a lot better than we have.

    5. In our political system, corruption is the real reason why our political parties refuse to reform. Some people say the party I belong to has debased a once noble nationalism and a concern with the welfare of marginalised people into a rush for the gravy train. They also said that the economic development we must bring our people is reduced to nothing more than patronage, and patronage is inflated into a right.

    6. Therefore, it appears that the root cause is in our political parties. It is an open secret that tender inflation is standard operating procedure. Within the parties and among politicians, it is already an understood matter that party followers must be ‘fed’. Politics is an expensive business, after all. Where else are we to get the funds? Thus theft of public goods is normalized and socialised among an entire community, and what we had planned to attain by capability is seen by some as something to be attained through politics.

    7. Politicians are the villains in this piece, but they themselves are the villains but they themselves are also trapped. The leadership is trapped because they are beholden to political followers who demand that they are looked after. They demand patronage, and turn the party’s struggle for the welfare of a community into their sense of entitlement to that patronage. So they take their slice of the project. By the time they and each person down the line all the way down to the contractor takes a lot and there is not enough left to do a decent job, bridges collapse, highways crack, stadiums collapse, hospitals run out of medicine, schoolchildren are cheated in their textbooks. Corruption may look to its perpetrators like a crime without victims, but it leaves a trail of destruction.

    8. No domain seems safe. Some say that the humble school canteen is the domain of party branch chiefs. The golf course becomes a favoured way to pass the cash over. We can place bets for RM5000 a hole. For some reason one party keeps losing. And there are 18 holes. Money thus obtained is legal. It can be banked.

    9. We spend billions on the refurbishment of defence equipment; on fighter jets, frigates and submarines. When a supplier lays on an exorbitant commission to some shadowy middleman, that commission is built into the price the government pays. That money comes from the ordinary Malaysian.

    10. Military toys are very expensive. I remember from my time in the Ministry of Finance. Even then, patrol craft cost about RM280mil each.

    11. We loved Exocet missiles. As Minister, I had to sign each time the military fired an Exocet missile for testing. Every time we test fired one of them, RM2mil literally went out with a bang. When the UK went to war against Argentina, the UK Government tried to borrow them from us because outside of the UK we had the most of them in the world. We must have been under some extraordinary military threat which I did not understand.

    12. The list is long: procurement of food and clothing for the military, medicine for hospitals and so on. In all these things the Government has been extraordinarily generous. And paid extraordinarily high prices.

    13. Government servants have to face pressure from politicians who expect to be given these contracts because they need money for politics. This corruption is justified because the party’s struggle is sacred. The civil servants can either join the game or be bypassed.

    14. For every government job big or small that goes down, someone feels entitled to a slice of the pie, not because they can do the job, not because they have some special talent or service to offer, but because it is their right. They do not realise that what they demand is the abuse of power for the sake of personal gain, or party gain. They elect those leaders among themselves who are most capable of playing this game. So we get as our leaders people who have distinguished themselves not by their ability to serve the public but at their long proven ability to be party warlords, which is to say, distributors of patronage. And that is a euphemistic way of saying that because of corruption the old, stupid and the criminal are elevated to positions of power while young, talented and honest individuals are frozen out. Corruption destroys national wealth, erodes institutions and undermines character. And it also destroys the process by which a community finds its leaders.

    15. The consequence of this is that the majority are marginalised. Government contracts circulate among a small group of people. Despite all attempts at control and brainwashing, the majority soon catch up to the game.

    16. This game cannot last forever. The longer it is played the more people hate the government and the governing class. They vote against the government, not for the Opposition. They resent the government of the day. In 2008 we saw how the Malaysian people feel about the abuse of power and incompetence caused by corruption.

    17. Since party funding has become the excuse and the vehicle for wholesale corruption, any measure we take to fight it must include the reform of political funding.

    18. It is time we enact a law regulating donations to political parties. Donations must be capped. No donor is to give more than a specified limit, on pain of prosecution. This is to prevent special interests from dominating parties. Such money is source of corruption.

    19. Let us limit political donations by law. On top of that let the government set up a fund to provide funding to registered political parties for their legitimate operational needs. This money can be distributed based on objective criteria and governed by an independent panel. This would close off the excuse that the parties need to raise political funding through government contracts.

    20. Another idea is that we should freeze the bank accounts of people who are being investigated for corruption. Public servants and politicians are by law required to be able to demonstrate the sources of their assets. Those with suspiciously ample assets should have these assets frozen until they can come up with evidence that they have accumulated them legally.

    21. This may sound harsh, but only because we live in a country in which almost no one ever gets nabbed for corruption. In China, those found guilty are shot.

    22. In Malaysia we read about MACC investigating this and that but there are no convictions. No one has been punished. We are the nation with no consequences. The MACC finds no fault. The courts do not convict. And our newspapers do not have the independence and vigour to follow up.

    23. We have an MACC with no results. It was a good idea to model our anti-corruption agency after one of the most successful in the world, Hong Kong’s ICAC. However we have taken just bits and pieces of that model. So really this will be no more than PR exercise unless we adopt the model wholesale.

    24. We should repeal the OSA so that people can go to the MACC and the authorities with documentary information on corrupt practice. As things stand, any document which might be incriminate to corrupt public officials is stamped an Offical Secret. A whistle blower risks 7 yrs jail for being in possession of such documents.

    25. We need to identify rot eating through our roots as a nation. It is corruption. We cannot expect the corrupt to embrace reform. It is time for our citizens to stand up and call corruption by its name, and demand reform.

  2. 2 ninitalk
    June 21, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    dannalli

    One expects the person who officiates a book launch to speak about the subject matter of the book (Shafee Yahya’s life and times)or the author (Kalsom Taib)at some length and not just dismiss them in a couple of lines. I’ve heard the good Tengku speak at two of his friend’s anniversaries and he was eloquent as he paid tribute to them.

    …which was what he should have done instead of launching a tirade against corruption and the government/ MACC. The gathering of family, friends and colleagues of Kalsom and Shafee was hardly the right platform for the political speech. It left a bad taste in the mouth!

  3. 3 dannalli
    June 22, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Yes indeed. It was not a right forum. As you mentioned, it’s a gathering of family, friends and colleagues.

  4. August 30, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    Datin,
    How r u? Ihope u n your family in well… Firstly, I agree with your opputinity.. secondly, I wish u succes in your job(blog)… Lastly, do your best in your fast n “selamat hari raya aidulfitri” from my family n I… Assalamualaikum…

  5. 5 ninitalk
    August 31, 2010 at 5:38 am

    Thank you for your kind wishes mus_sremban.
    NINI TALK is having a re-think of her writing priorities and has slowed down a little. A lot of blog readers have left. I hope to have a new spurt of inspiration soon and get my blog readers back.


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