Archive for the ‘Memorial’ Category

MGG Pillai: Gone but never forgotten

May 2, 2007
We will always remember MGG Pillai as a fearless journalist who was feared by many corrupt politicians and corporate tycoons. R.I.P. my friend!

Gone but never forgotten

Sreejit Pillai
Apr 30, 07 5:24pm
One year ago, on April 28, 2006, one of Malaysia’s last independent journalists passed away at the age of 66, leaving behind an illustrious career which started in the mid-1960s.My father MGG Pillai, was a man who stayed true to his craft until his demise. In today’s Malaysia, a man of such convictions and passion for journalism, is well, put politely, not tolerated.

Under the previous administration of Dr Mahathir Mohamed, journalists were also expected to toe the line, and not ask too many questions, nor write analytic pieces. Newspaper editors were emasculated and kept in line.

Critical thought was slowly squeezed out of the public consciousness. My father was not allowed to write for any mainstream newspapers but that was no deterrence for a man who was determined to have his say about his beloved country.

Pillai’s sharp pen also annoyed the Singapore authorities who barred him from entry into the little republic for many years. It is a measure of the man that he survived, nay, thrived under Malaysia’s restrictive media controls since he became a freelance journalist in 1971.

I grew up seeing him at the typewriter, or with volumes of books which he devoured voraciously. My father never finished his legal studies, cut short by his father’s death. In hindsight, journalism gained a son.

It was a critical time when a nation was looking to be relevant in the world, barely a decade after independence from colonial masters; dealing with an aggressive, larger neighbour, and brewing racial suspicions amongst the population.

An enigma

In those days before spin doctors and greasy relatives hungry for power, my father’s insightful, investigative work about Malaysia allowed him to be acquainted with Bapa Merdeka Tuanku Abdul Rahman and successive Prime Ministers, as well as ministers and bureaucrats close to the seat of power.

Despite being a university drop-out, his tenacity, love for the written word and razor sharp mind, Pillai evolved into an expert of Malaysian and regional affairs, constantly writing for a host of foreign media titles throughout his life.

I would like to say that my love for books and writing was in large part, due to his influences, and while I freely admit that we have differences in opinions in some realms, he continues to have a massive impact on me.

To me the man never died as his ideals continue to be relevant in today’s Malaysia.

My father was largely a strong silent type in private life, an almost exact opposite when he was wielding a pen or tapping on a keyboard.

That is the enigma that was MGG Pillai – a giant in the world of Malaysian journalism.

Pioneer cyber-journalist

I think he liked what he saw in the world of cyber journalism which he pioneered, years before the likes of Malaysiakini and Malaysia-Today were established.

It reminded him of the dynamic media space in the 1960s and early 1970s, which, if it was left unmolested, would have contributed to a more mature, dynamic and critical society.

The shackles of race and communal politics could have in fact, been removed by now.

Sadly history has dictated otherwise but my father correctly predicted that the Internet could in the long-term, be the great equalizer, in regards to citizens being more involved and responsive to issues that affect us all.

Malaysia belongs to all of us and my father had made that point repeatedly in his 40-year career.

That a new generation of bloggers and Internet news sites continue to propagate his message, to the chagrin of the authorities, is a fitting tribute to the tenacious Pillai.

My father is gone but never forgotten.

Goodnight Acha, wherever you are.

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Kit Siang: K. Ramesan a great Malaysian son for justice and equality

January 18, 2007

We have just lost a true Malaysian in Sdr K. Ramesan. I will propose to the Selangor DAP state committee to do a memorial to mark our respect and love to this fearless and articulate fighter of democracy.

In one of the state dinners back in the eighties, Sdr Ramesan hurt himself rather badly during a sketch where he portrayed Dr Mahathir as a dictator. I used to visit him during the Deepavali festival in the last few years of his life. We will certainly miss him dearly. RIP, Sdr Ramasen.

Sdr Lim Kit Siang has this to say about the great man…

K. Ramasen – a great Malaysian son for justice and equality

Time & Date: January 18, 2007 @ 16: 01.50

The nation lost a great Malaysian son, K. Ramasen, 78, who died yesterday after a long illness, survived by two sons, Fatinathan, 53, Arabind, 51, daughter Prasanna, 51 and a grandson Fabian, 9.

Ramasen was in the first batch of DAP elected representatives voted into office in the 1969 general election, winning the Bukit Raja state assembly seat in Selangor with a thumping 1,886-majority. He polled 4,773 votes while his Alliance opponent, S.S. Murugesu polled 3,442 votes.

Ramasen is a great Malaysian son who never shirked from the battle for justice and equality for all Malaysians, and remained steadfast in his principles in his whole life.

Articulate and fearless in the Selangor State Assembly in the post-May 13 years, Ramasen is still remembered for his fiery attacks on the then Selangor Mentri Besar, Harun Idris. In one unforgettable exchange, Ramasen told Harun that he would see him in jail for his abuses of power as Mentri Besar while Harun swore that he would ensure that Ramasen would not return to the State Assembly.

History would record that both threats were fulfilled – as Harun ended in jail for corruption while Ramasen was unable to win re-election although he contested four times subsequently, including the the Port Klang parliamentary by-election in 1979 caused by the death of the then MIC President and Labour Minister, Tan Sri V. Manickavasagam.

Ramasen was teaching in Klang High School, his alma mater and Selangor Chairman of National Union of Teachers (NUT) before he stood on the DAP ticket for the 1969 general election.

He was also active in the Klang Tamil Literary Society which he served as President.

Multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-lingual Malaysia is all the poorer with the passing on of Ramasen. May his soul rest in peace.