Monday, June 07, 2010

My father , The IGP was Gunned down

Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Hashim

Dalam kita dok sibuk2 mengutuk polis sebab menembak mati seorang remaja di Shah Alam , tak ramai yang memahami tanggungjawab dan risiko seorang pegawai polis bila berhadapan dengan seorang penjenayah . Siapa yang bersalah biarlah mahkamah yang menentukan , tapi janganlah kita politikkan tugas dan tanggungjawab seorang pegawai polis. Mungkin artikel dibawah dapat memberi sedikit gambaran tentang pengorbanan seorang pegawai polis.

Article taken from New Straits Times

0630:TWO men, possibly hewn from granite, one slightly taller than the other but looking dangerous in both gait and looks, sat at a table at an Indian tea stall near the start of a narrow road in the busy heart of Kuala Lumpur. Faces taut and tanned, noticeable even in the early morning hue, they took in the surroundings.

The taller man glanced at his watch, shifted his cotton sling bag, as did his partner, then smiled faintly to himself as he relaxed. They had time.0700: June 7, 1974 had looked set to be another languid sort of day, except that, for me, it was somewhat special. In the kitchen of our old government-owned colonial-style bungalow on Jalan Kia Peng, I was having breakfast with my father.Fath e r ’s busy schedule as the inspector-general of police, always dutifully criss-crossing the country in keeping a plethora of engagements, often kept him away from the family.So, the tryst that morning was really something for me to savour.

Watching him, so commanding in his khaki-toned IGP uniform, the badges of authority sitting comfortably on his shoulders, sipping his no-sugar, no-cream coffee and browsing the newspaper, I started to muse over the different paths that he and I had taken. He, the policeman, ever secretive with information, and I, the reporter, always trying to dig or coax them out.He got his kicks mocking me.“What incident? I haven’t seen the report... who did you hear this from? ” he would ask, mouth half open and face deadpan, teasing almost.

I just gave up. You cannot squeeze water from a stone!Father seldom gave me any quarter (in the professional sense), but he didn’t give much to others either, especially in matters affecting decorum. I got a spectacular show of this on the night of Aug 2, 1973, the day the late deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail Datuk Abdul Rahman, died of a heart attack in his Maxwell Road (now Jalan Tun Dr Ismail) home.I was standing in the hall of the late DPM’s house, having emerged from the bedroom where I had paid my respects, and during which I had offered my condolences to his grieving eldest daughter, Zailah, an NST reporter.Nearby, huddled together, were a distinguished mix of cabinet members, most of whom I recognised.They spoke in hushed tones. The DPM had just died and his powerful post of internal security minister had fallen vacant. I could only guess the topic of their discussion.Quite suddenly, my father strode into the hall, paused, cocked his head at the group — all of whom he knew — and immediately understood what they were talking about. Very purposefully, he walked towards the Yang Berhormats.In the mournful silence of the wake, father’s clear but measured voice seemed to crash all around the room, as he spoke, “No more talk about succession, all right. Any more of this and I’ll have all of you arrested.”The effect was immediate, as was the silence that followed. Then, one by one, the ministers, composure compromised, started to walk away.A few left the house altogether.Walking past me where I had stood rooted, still rather bemused and not knowing how to react, father, still piqued at the apparent show of disrespect towards his boss and good friend, flashed a look at me.Maybe he was surprised to see me there, but then again maybe not, and even though he said nothing, the message was clear. “Yo u ’d better not report this.” As if I would.Father ’s power show of conviction, (the English call it “balls” or cojone inSpanish) was always acted out in absolute belief in himself, that he didnot carry any baggage, political or money-wise. I remember as a child, I often accompanied him on his Hari Raya Aidilfitri rounds, visiting the homes of various ministers.I noticed that, at each stop, on seeing father at the doorstep, the VIPs — household names they all were — would rush down to greet him, laugh and banter.Later, while driving home, he would ask me, rather reflectively, “Jib, do you know why those people were so nice to me?”I would be busy counting the wads of duit raya shoved into my hands (if you cannot corrupt the father, corrupt the son), and though annoyed at the distraction, still mumbled out questioningly, “Because you’re a ma-ta-mata?” (old parlance for policeman).Until today, I could still remember his reply, “Y-e-s, also because I know everything that they do... everything. And I tell them whenever they misbehave.”But father did not like to admonish people publicly, be it his own men orhopeful bribe-givers. “I don’t like to make people lose face,” he once said.Father believed in giving people second chances because he always believed that mistakes are the best teacher.He also harboured an unwavering trust in his men. His aide de camp, the late Datuk Syed Othman Salleh, once recalled a high-powered topsecret security meeting in Bangkok.“I was with your dad in the office of the Thai defence chief,” Syed Othman said. “After a while, the discussion got down to sensitive details.“The Thai general glanced at me, then told your father that he would be more comfortable if there were only four eyes in the room. Your dadquickly replied that he had complete trust in me.”Syed Othman added that the Thai general tried to get father to reconsider, but he simply told the Thai that “if my man goes, I go”. At this point, the ADC paused, looked at me, then said, with absolute finality, “Jib, your father was a leader of men.”0730: I was jolted out of my reverie by father’s rasping voice telling me that he had to go. He looked at mother, Puan Sri Halimah Mat Isa, gave her RM50 to buy ingredients for mee rebus and told her, somewhat ominously, “that I will not be coming home today before Friday prayers”.Neither mother nor I could forbode the darkness that would descend onour home.Earlier on, Syed Othman had called and was told by my father not to accompany him from the house in Jalan Kia Peng as was the routine, but instead to meet him at the office.That call was to save his life. The trip to Bukit Aman federal police headquarters was unscheduled, however. My father was to attend the Thai-Malaysian General Border Committee (GBC) meeting at the Federal Hotel in Jalan Bukit Bintang. But something urgent had cropped up, enough to cause the re-routing.Mother had advised him to go straight to the hotel.“Let Syed pick up whatever you need at the office and pass it to you later at the hotel,” she said.Mother was always the practical one. Born in the lunar year of the Tiger, she was the engine that ran the house, kept the children — all seven of us — meticulously in check during every stage of our growth and steadfastly was the “push factor” in father’s career in ways that far belied her simple village schooling. It was in honour of mother’s uncanny abilities that he once hung a note in the house which said: “I am the boss of the house and whatever my wife says must be obeyed.”But that morning, just that one time, he did not heed his wife, and climbed into his sky blue Mercedes to go to Bukit Aman. Mother had always sounded her fears about the one-way one-lane road that he normally took to go the office. She thought it provided the perfect setting for an ambush.Sadly, her fears would later come to bear.0740: The two men left their seats at the tea stall and moved towards an agreed point, about five metres from the start of Lorong Raja Chulan. They surveyed the scene. It was the usual working day activity with people walking, cycling and driving to work.More importantly for the duo, cars were moving slowly along the road by which they stood. Suddenly tense, the pair dipped their hands into their sling bags and cast a sharp look at a car entering the lane. It was time.They were now on the threshold of criminal lore.0745: Driving out of the house, I gave a quick glance at workers putting up several marquees in the sprawling compound. My father had planned to throw a dinner for about 200 Malaysian and Thai police officers on Saturday night to mark the end of the GBC meeting.Once more, it never crossed my mind that the tents would house a more moroseevent.0800: After picking up a friend in Cheras, I drove towards the city. My friend, a Malay Mail reporter, had to cover the courts, then located on Court Hill, where Menara Maybank now stands.08 20 : Coming down from Jalan Weld, I tried to take a short cut to Court Hill via Lorong Raja Chulan, but a policeman waved me on. I took a detour.0822: Driving past Lorong Raja Chulan, I noticed to my left, that a group of people had gathered around a car. I couldn’t make out the vehicle’s model but sensed an accident had occurred. I made a mental note to check that one out later.I had made a rolling stop and was just about to proceed towards Court Hill when NST reporter Kristel Kraal spotted me and waved frantically for me to stop. I wound down the front passenger window and asked her what the problem was? Looking rather distressed, she blurted out that a senior police officer had beenshot. I asked, “Who?” to which she said she didn’t know yet.Immediately, my reporter’s instincts kicked in and out came the words: “Alright Kris, this a big story. Get the details while I go parkmy car up the hill. I’ll join you shortly.” I never kept the appointment.I never found out from Kristel whether she had known all along that it was my father who had been gunned down; that she had kept mum about the officer’s identity because she thought I should be sparedfinding out the way I did.Kristel died several years later of c a n c e r.Getting down from the car, I walked quickly towards the staircase leading to the road below. Once there, from the top of the staircase, I saw the roof of a sky blue Mercedes Benz. It immediately struck me that there was only one such blue Mercedes in the city.I remember the feeling that ran through my body then as if itwas just yesterday. Almost certainly it will live in me and haunt me for the rest of mydays. Still rooted at the top of the staircase, it finally dawned on me that itwas my father who was bleeding down there.Suddenly, I felt sick. A wave of nausea swept over me. I could feel the blood draining from my body as panic set in. I started to become pale. I wanted to run, to get down to father, to help him... but my feet would not move. Iwanted to shout “Bapak” but the words died in my throat as soon as they were born.Then, a looming cloud of darkness started to converge upon me, threatening to engulf my senses. I started to feel fear, a drowning kind of fear that I had not imagined possible. I felt my head spinning.Summoning all my strength, I broke the clamp that had shackled my legs.Soon I found myself “flying” down the staircase screaming “Bapaaak! Bapaaak” at the top of my lungs.There were onlookers sitting on the steps but to me they were just a blur as I whizzed past them, yelling, “Bapak aku! Bapak aku!” (my father! my father!). As as a young boy, I had dreamt I was being tossed around by a tiger. As a reporter, I had to shake off two gun-toting Thai bandits trailing me in Betong. But I had not felt such terror as I was experiencing now.Only this time, I felt terror for my father, thinking “I must help him, Imust save him”. Hitting the ground, I charged towards the car, half screaming and half crying, “Bapak, Bapak!...” I had nearly reached it when I ran smack into a wall, in the form of the burly frame of famed crimebuster Deputy Superintendent S. Kulasingam (who has since passed away).Wrapping his huge arms around me, Kula literally lifted me off my feet and whispered, “Najib, Najib, it’s all right, it’s all right, we’ve sent your father to the hospital.” Through my tears, I looked into his eyes and sawthat he, too, was tearing up.After a while, Kula put me down and I made for the Mercedes. Somewhat calmer, I examined the car. Both windows to the left of the driver and the left side of the back passenger seat were shattered. Clearly, the attackwas launched from the left side of the road. I peered at the back seat where father must have beensitting. The backrest, seat and floor were stained with fresh blood, father’sblood.I had just started to imagine a picture of father lying motionless but breathing heavily at the back seat, uniform soaked with blood, when Kula pulled me away and whisked me into a waiting police car, an Alfa Romeo. At high speed and with sirens wailing, the crew rushed me to the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital (now HKL).Arriving at the hospital I noticed that a large crowd had totally engulfed the foyer and the entrance to the accident and emergency unit. A patrolman ushered me in. In the car, I had wondered about father. Was he badly hurt? Was he alive? Or was he...? The last thought, I quickly banished from my mind. It was unacceptable.From a distance, I saw him lying on a trolley, face and arms exposed but covered in a piece of white sheet heavily stained with blood. Several police officers stood quietly nearby, ashen-faced. My heart was pounding as I walked towards father.Reaching his side, I called out to him, I shook him, touched his face, held his hands and ran my fingers over his. They were limp and lifeless.Then, almost unbelievingly, at the cold realisation that he had returnedto the merciful embrace of Allah, I fell over his body, hugged him tightly and repeatedly cried out “sorry”... sorry that I wasn’t there to help him justwhen he needed me most.The two gunmen, according to the official story, were communist hitmen.Standing side by side, they fired automatic pistols towards father and his driver, Sgt Omar. The sergeant took a nick in the neck, opened his door and fled the scene.But father never had a chance. I suspect he must have been reading his files, like he usually did, when the bullets ripped into his body. The lacerations, the tearing away of the flesh from the fingers of both hishands that I saw at the hospital, could only mean that he was trying toward off the bullets with his hands. He was just 51.The duo allegedly responsible for father’s death were eventually caught, but only after they had summarily dispatched another highranking police officer, Tan Sri Khoo Chong Kong, then the chief police officer of Perak, in the same year.And while the two men were hanged for the murder of Khoo, they were never tried for the killing of the IGP.Riding the memories of a murder for 36 years is a long time. But for me, each year, as the anniversary off ather’s death draws near, I pause to reflect on questions that simply will not go away.Father was very committed to his work and the force. Once, he asked me to write out his speech where he had mapped out his blueprint for the force he had been entrusted to lead; a better esprit de corps, to improve housing and welfare, better educational facilities for children of policemen and, most importantly, an insurance protection scheme to help families of those slain on duty.I know that the last point was very close to his heart as he often visited the families of slain Special Branch officers, and felt their loss. He often got personal with those he had handpicked to run dangerous missions.Summoning them to his office, he would say to them words like: “Tan, I want you to do this for me. Don’t worry about your family. If anything happens to you, I will take care of them.” He always kept his promise.It was unfortunate that his plan for better welfare for his charges could not be realised soon enough to help his own family. Following father’s death, three of my brothers had their studies disrupted.I might add that father knew he was a hunted man, that a contract had been placed on his life. So he took out an insurance cover for RM1 million.But he died on the day the confirmation letter was laid out on his desk for him to sign. Was that the reason why he went to Bukit Aman that day? We will never know.The evening before he died, father and I watched his favourite TV show, Kojak, featuring Telly Savalas as a devil-may-care lollypop-sucking New York cop. At the end of the programme, he turned to me and said: “You know Jib, he (Kojak) is just like me. He does what he feels is right.”As it had been with Octavia Caesar who pleaded with her husband not to go to the Senate because she dreamt that she saw Caesar’s statue covered in blood, with Brutus standing beside it — his hands, too, soaked in blood — so it was with my younger sister, Sofwanah.Days before father died, she dreamt that she had found him lying in a pool of blood, a knife stuck in his back. For two more nights, the same dream returned to haunt her. It left her in tears. And she was in London then.


  1. Moving and touching story. I remembered 1973 and I remembered the passing of Tun Dr Ismail, but I did not know that in 1973, Malaysia was still in turbulence.

  2. OG-malaysia is under communist threat until 1990. i remember going to kelantan from penang in the late 80s passing through several army camps and checkpoint especially at grik n baling area.

  3. What a moving story. How I wish we have more dedicated good police officers like your father to make Malaysia a better place to live in.


  4. farahz - senyum saya bila baca komen farahz . itu bukan ayah saya ler , itu cuma artikel saya petik dari surat khabar. he he