Sunday, November 19, 2006

Khir Johari

1923-2006. One of the last real Malaysian gentlemen passed on a while ago. I'm honoured to have known Pak Khir, as he was fondly called, and fortunate to be there when he gave The Society, the newsletter of the Royal Commonwealth Society, what was probably his last interview. The piece on this rare breed of a man - minister, p0litician, diplomat, businessman - was published in its Merdeka Issue:
"He was an enduring personality in politics and government. To a lot of journalists in those days, Tan Sri was quite a character. And an endearing one. It was no wonder that they remember him with fondness."
Update from Bernama: A national heroes' burial for Pak Khir. TV Smith remembers Pak Khir and Jeff Ooi sings for the man.


  1. Anonymous1:35 pm

    khir johari was one of the rare breed of politicians who never succumb to racial politics. his pragmatism and level-headedness will surely be missed. but sadly, this type of politicians have disappeared.

  2. Anonymous2:13 pm

    The late Pak Khir was truly one of the last 'old-world' gentlemen, the kind where a hand-shake was as good as a written agreement.
    I have been privileged to have known him as well as his family very well, including his only son who is a medical specialist and now Dean of one of the medical schools in Malaysia.
    As far as you and I are concerned(we belong to the same vintage,Rocky), perhaps one of his greatest contributions to Malaysia is the educational policy when he was the Minister of Education - steadfastly insisting that English be the main medium of indtruction because it was the international language of communication. How right was he!
    May his soul rest in peace.

  3. Al Fatihah from me and condolences to his whole family.

  4. Al fatehah to Pak Khir and family from all of us here. Semoga dia ditempatkan di samping orang-orang yang beriman.

  5. Rocky!

    I just hope that his children from his first marriage (first wife passed away) and his grand-children who love him will have the fair share of his inheritance. I hope his second wife a Chinese convert will be magnanimous enough to share Khir Johari's estate with the rest! May Khir Johari rest in peace!

  6. Anonymous2:45 pm

    Probably the last of the old guards. He was a Renaissance Man. They don't make them like him anymore. Condolences to his family. Alfatihah!

  7. A very open-minded Malay gentleman he is, Khir Johari. The last of his kind.I have worked with him before and found him an immensely joyous person to be around, with a fantastic sense of humour.
    He will be missed.....Goodbye, Pak Khir....

  8. Anonymous3:26 pm

    Al Fatihah,

    Seorang insan yang baik. Tidak memilih kawan. Banyak belajar daripadanya sejak di bangku sekolah.

  9. If Khir had been a PM, we might have avoided the problems of many ills in the country. Unfortunately UMNO members believed that a university degree replaces good human quality such as pragmatism and level-headedness.

    Having ruined the education standard in the country, they treat products of foreign universities like god. An oxford degree, not even a first class, was good enough to marry into the family of powerful, and worse, allowed the opportunity to share power of elected office.

    A high school education in the past would have instilled in the students the ability to read, write, and be numerate, and university education was to produce professionals and reseach scholars. When professionals leave their occupations to take up politics, they are not automatically better than high school leavers, and Khir was a Kirby(?)trained teacher.

    Because the UMNO-led government believes in form, rather than substance, the truth, it has caused 60,000 unemployable graduates to lead dilemmic life; manual job is beneath the status of a graduate, so they think, and they cannot get a job which their paper qualification indicates that they were able to perform. They were then victims of 'structural unemployment'.

  10. My family and I send our deepest condolences to Puan Sri Christine Lim and her family.
    Tan Sri Datuk Khir was amongst other things, the Patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Malaysian Branch.
    I am glad to have met him personally.
    God Bless his soul and rest in peace Tan Sri !

  11. Anonymous8:50 pm

    Al Fatiha

    Semoga Allah SWT mencucuri Rahmat ke atas rohnya.


  12. Anonymous10:21 pm

    i knew khir johari when i was a reporter in the seventies and eighties.he was ahead of his time. we discussed a lot of things, especially the education system. he was not against the switchover to bahasa, but he was very distressed by the way the government totally relegated english. he told me: 'they are asking for trouble. english is the language whether you like it or not.' prophetic words indeed from a man who had no tolerance for hypocrisy. we have destroyed a few generations. now we know the main losers are the bumis. need i say more.

  13. Anonymous12:23 am

    Setip kali nama Tan Sri khir di sebutkan kepada saya, yang muncul dibenak saya bahawa dia adalah menteri yang bertanggungjawab memansuhkan penggunaan tulisan JAWI dalam sistem pendidikan Orang Melayu. Sekarang dia dimakam pahlawan bersama pejuang Melayu yang lain???

  14. Anonymous12:37 am

    terima kasih Pak Khir - enjoy your card games with Tunku!!

  15. Al-Fatihah to Pak Khir. I am glad I am a product of his education system.

  16. Anonymous8:03 am

    Ucapan takziah kami kepada Nazli sekeluarga.Semoga Allah mencucuri Rahmat keatas roh Allahyarham.Amin.Al Fatihah

  17. Anonymous9:53 am

    Hi Bro,
    Just wanted to ask a question. Jeff mentioned Pak Khiaq's passing in his blog and he used the words Al Fatihah. Is Jeff a 'saudara baru'? Just curious.

  18. Anonymous10:00 am

    Al Fatihah.

    If only the politicians of today were like those of yesteryear. True politicians whose agenda was the people - not son-in-laws or their own children. The words nepotism was alien to us. The words UMNOputra unheard of.
    Khir, Tunku, Ghafar, Tun Ismail,Sardon, Harun - pillars of Merdeka all but forgotten. Sad isn't it?

    Digressing a little. How come you're not writing on Mukhriz? It seems the UMNO Youth is trying to tell someone to menghina dan menderhaka kepada bapa sendiri. Is this the kind of Malays you want to support? Given a choice, would you support your father or your party president? Ask Hishamuddin and Najib that! If Pak Lah belittles the history and the deeds of Razak and Hussien, would they support Pak Lah? What if Pak Lah says that a former PM is a Chivas drinker? What if Pak Lah states that a former PM is a gambler? Which son is going to smear his father's own image? Try that for size.


  19. Rest in peace Pak Khir. We already miss you...

  20. Anonymous12:00 pm

    may his soul rest in peace. He has brought a lot of smiles and laughter. A man who can inspire laughter certainly is someone special. How many public figures today can you credit with that virtue.

    A gentleman and a gentle man from an era when all of us were equal.

    Alas, in today's Malaysia, to paraphrase George Orwell in my own way,"Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others."

    I mourn the passing of yet another Malaysian from a kinder era with more integrity.

  21. Anonymous3:31 pm

    He's my Uncle Thomas Cup. Although he last brought back the cup in 1967, he's got a very strong attachment to badminton till he had to let go the leadership of Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) to Tan Sri Elyas Omar in the 1980s. I've never seen anyone so dedicated and passionate about the game like my Uncle Thomas Cup.

  22. Anonymous4:39 pm

    "perhaps one of his greatest contributions to Malaysia is the educational policy when he was the Minister of Education - steadfastly insisting that English be the main medium of indtruction because it was the international language of communication. How right was he!
    May his soul rest in peace"....true..but malay identity was blown away when jawi were taken out from school...that the

  23. Anonymous4:56 pm

    Semoga Allah mencucuri rahmat ke atas rohnya. Khir Johari was a gentle down to earth person with a great sense of humour. He had the crowd in stitches at a couple of weddings i attended. This KJ was the real thing. If only we could retire a politicians's initials like some football clubs do with their jersey numbers in honour of their greatest players because we know of at least one dying-to-be-youngest-PM who is not fit to share his initials.

  24. Anonymous5:27 pm

    Pasquale, what a time to talk about inheritance. Give the lady some credit. My deepest condolence, Christine. He was an unobtrusive Towering Malay. Rest In Peace, Pak Khir. Zorro.

  25. Anonymous5:43 pm


    "They dont make them like they use too"

  26. Anonymous6:51 pm

    our deepest condolences to the family of our beloved patron,tan sri khir johari.

    we have lost a great patron and a dear friend. we will surely miss his jokes.

    the president,branch council members, members and staffs of the royal commonwealth society.....we will miss you pak khir.....may your soul rest in peace.

  27. Anonymous8:15 pm

    I didn't know him well. When I was with The Malay Mail (1994-2005), I met him many times during my assignments, especially those involving Zoo Negara (I think) and Magnum.

    He's a funny guy - joking with cadet reporters like me all the time, even when answering our questions - which were nothing compared to his days in the Cabinet.

    Occasionally, he would ask us reporters to hang out and chit-chat with him some more, as we're about to leave.

    That much I remember him. Nice uncle.

    May he rest in peace.


  28. Anonymous1:37 am

    cucuparit - which Harun r u talking abt?

  29. Anonymous6:03 am

    it may be too late to reply to this post but i don't mind. i'm absolutely honored to be descended from khir johari's blood, as he is my grand-uncle. even though i haven't met him tht many times, i knew tht i loved him very much. i also beamed in pride every time i read abt him in the newspapers. i remember that for my 3rd birthday, i celebrated it with him and christina (his 2nd wife)'s family. i am truly touched that everyone thinks so highly of him because he rly is someone for me to look up to. i was devastated when i found out tht he passed away and i miss him till this day.

    - fatin


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