Tun Abdul Razak (right) with his wife Toh Puan Rahah and four of their five sons (from left): Najib, Nazir, Nazim, and Nizam.
KUALA LUMPUR: Blogger Big Dog today highlighted the following letter, entitled The Selfless Man, which appeared in the New Straits Times shortly after the passing of Malaysia’s second Prime Minister, Tun Hj Abdul Razak Hussein, in January 1976:
Tun Razak was a faithful Muslim and knowledge of the more rapid approach of his own death was received with the equanimity and fortitude of the truly faithful. He did not turn away from his fellow men nor seek to spend the remaining years to ensuring a place in afterlife for himself alone.
Selfishness did not overcome him. Instead he redoubled his dedication to service towards others, to his people, his country and most certainly to his religion. This dedication took a heavy toll on his health. But his doctors were never able to deter him from his self-imposed tasks.
He performed the Hajj in 1970 again and threw himself into his work with renewed energy and unshaken faith. In all that he did, there was now a note of urgency as the days and months rapidly telescoped in the face of the inevitable. Sometime tiredness showed through. How often he must thought of approaching death have assailed him. Those to whom the inevitability of death looms large and real know well the fear and helplessness.
It would have been natural to falter, to seek pity and sympathy, to retire and rest the tired mind and body. It would have been easy and justified, for there were laurels to rest on. But never once did he falter. To the solicitous comments of his friends, close aides and even immediate members of his family that he looked unwell, his response was to deny and to dismiss. He was fir, he said, and then invariably the subject was switched to work that had to be done.
Towards the end he was particularly concerned over the economy of the nation. He considered it his personal duty to show a good example. But even as he set about doing this, his health deteriorated further.
Advised to seek medical care in Europe, his first thought was over the expense. Repeatedly, he explained that he couldn’t pay and hoped that the Minister of Finance would not mind paying. To justify this unexpected expense, he submitted a full medical report to the Minister of Finance.
Finally convalescing in London, he chafed over his absence from the country. He wanted to return because he had to preside over the meeting of Menteri Besars in Langkawi, Kedah and other pressing issues.
And when death was rapidly approaching, he preyed for three more months. There was the Third Malaysia Plan to launch and a few loose ends to tie up.
This was the man whom we have lost and mourned. He was not perfect. Like very mortal, he had his faults. But there is no man, no leader of his people who was more selfless.
He gave every moment of his life to service to others and heeded not to his own needs. He did this fully aware that his days were numbered.
May Allah have mercy on his soul and place him amongst the Defenders of the Faith, for his selfless service to his people, his country and to Islam is not only in accordance with teachings of Islam but is also a measure of his abiding faith in his religion.
For us who still live, the life and death of Tun Haji Abdul Razak Bin Datuk Hussein, Prime Minister of Malaysia, is worthy of most profound study and contemplation. There is a lesson there that denies that the purpose of life is the pursuit of self-interest and attention to one’s own selfish needs, spiritual or otherwise.
Life, the exclusive gift of Allah, must be dedicated to high purpose as it is eternal, and death rested as if it will come tomorrow.
From Allah he cometh, to Allah he returneth.
- A COLLEAGUE -
Big Dog noted that the writer of the letter has since been identified as former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was Education Minister at the time of Tun Razak’s passing. The blogger also noted that today is the birthday of Tun Razak’s son and current Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Haji Abdul Razak.
“May his quest in stepping into his father’s footsteps and legacy in making Malaysia a better place for everyone be as dedicated as he father was, a truly a ‘Selfless Man’,” the blogger wrote.