Yesterday in their Reliving 40 Years series, the STAR featured two ladies I knew as friends.
I met Adele at one Press Ball. We used to have lots of Balls those days like the Ad Agency Balls. Every organization held one ball or another annually. However, when we questioned why nobody held the government’s Ball, a furor ensued and we never had anymore Balls and henceforth only Annual Dinners…..no more holding any Balls. Period. I digress….
Adele, when we reminisced, reminded me that she boarded with Mum when she had a brief stay in Taiping. I was training to be a teacher in Penang then. I remember Adele for many things, some told to me by her journalists’ colleagues. But we all agreed on one thing…..her legs were meant only for mini-skirts which was the rage then and dang, she did carry those minis so well. All typewriters stopped clacking when Adele entered the Press Desk. She had straight, healthy jet-black hair which was in vogue then. In 1975 she moved to South Australia as a political staffer and later became the wife of the 35th Premier of South Australia, Don Dunstan. "She has the high cheekbones of her Asian forebears," wrote one, "and she walks with the in-born grace of the East." The fact that she was from Penang added to her exotic status. If you thought she was a bimbo, how wrong you are. She chided the Australian Press:
"The trouble is that the Australian press is still infantile," she said. "It does not know how to control its bowels. Only one paper has to get on to a good story and we get several cases of verbal and pictorial diarrhea, all trying to go one better."
If cancer of the lungs did not end this young firebrand’s life can you imagine what she would today say about our Main Stream Media! Maybe much worse things! No?
JEAN PEREIRA SINNAPPA and I were colleagues at Sek. Sultan Abdul Samad, PJ. I did not know Jean was the wife of my regular oasis (read watering hole) buddy until a school teachers’ get-together. From thence our friendship gelled although she taught in the afternoon session. When I was the President of the Staff Council, Jean was an able secretary. Being a former beauty queen Miss Negri Sembilan of 1971 as well as Miss Selangor and Miss Malaysia runner-up, she was a celebrity of sorts but remained her usual charming and unassuming self as a teacher. According to her, Sinnappa always chided her whenever she went for her regular Saturday visit to her hairdresser. She confided that Sinnappa told her that she was always beautiful to him and it was not necessary for those Saturday visits. One New Year Eve she called me to tell me this: “This morning, Sinnappa told me to go make myself the most beautiful lady for him tonight.” We lost Sinnappa in the early hours of the New Year in an accident. Jean was flung out of the car but survived with minor injuries.
On 7 April, 1979 I was in school waiting for my Selangor Under 18 football team to assemble. Aklis the clerk rushed up to me and told me that Jean was murdered. At her funeral I requested to be one of her pall bearers. I do not want to go into the murder trial and want to remember her as she was always – graceful, gracious and gorgeous.
Weeks later when I was a guest of DJ Constance Haslam at the Radio Malaysia studio I asked Connie to play this song: