But this time, I break my three weeks’ silence to mourn the loss of a dear friend, ZAINON AHMAD who tirelessly continued to speak, to write and to publish whatever [he pleased] on our Malaysianess. Social change, he covered in a folksy, chatty style. It is my belief that he either left New Strait Times, or was edged out as its Editorial Consultant in 2001 because he steadfastly stood for freedom of the press and thus to work independently, participating in the events, rather than just watching and reporting and right till the end was convinced that it was still possible for the press to effectively hold the government accountable.
Our friendship began in the early 70’s when he was in University Malaya and was moonlighting as a volunteer liaison officer to an international team during the glory days of the Merdeka Tournament. I was in the transport secretariat and our duties meant close inter-facing with each other. When I had problem communicating with one of the bus drivers, Zainon solved our problem with his adeptness in the Tamil language. He later surprised me by being able to recite the Lords Prayer and the Hail Mary. He revealed that he came from a Brother School in Kedah and his father told him to do whatever is the practice in the school. One particular Sunday he asked me to double up for him as he had some urgent work. That urgent work was printing notes for sale to undergraduates for extra income. After the tournament I gave him the good news that my Principal, Brother Bernard formerly teaching in his former school in Kedah was willing to help defray expenses for his studies. He was allowed to use only at weekends our Gestetner printing machine and ink but he had to supply his own reams of paper. That went on until he graduated.
He went on to teach and I only met up with him at one of our “No buy, No lies” boycott campaign in 2007 against Main Stream Media. He was then with the Sun. He said he liked “ABOUT ME” on my blog sidebar and encouraged me to carry on the fight for a better Malaysia. We last met at Raju’s. He, also a pipe smoker, got a whiff of my tobacco and came outside looking for me. More HERE.
Today, I also mourn the passing away of another friend ALAN ZECHARIA of RTM. I met Alan when I was doing news reading for Berita Daerah in the mid 60s during the time of Adrain Hendroff, Vicki Skelchy, Constance Haslam and Bosco D’Cruz.