Top, L-R: Pak Samad, Drs Tarman Azzam (Indonesia), Mazlan Nordin, Sulaiman Jeem (Singapore) Bottom, L-R: Othman Wok (Singapore), Ahmad Arshad (Brunei), Pak Rosihan, Fatimah Md Nor (Brunei)
Rosihan Anwar (pic) is a name that invariably crops up when they teach you Principles of Journalism at varsity. I had the honour of meeting the man last night at the Anugerah Tokoh Wartawan Dunia Melayu organised by the Former Berita Harian Malaysia Journalists Association in Petaling Jaya.
Slight build, awesome aura. His byline has appeared in the Hindustan Times, the NST, Asiaweek, World Forum Features, The Age Melbourne, the Straits Times Singapore and the Asia Pacific. Pak Ros has published 36 books, the last one issued on his 85th birthday last May. He has the distinction of having the newspaper he headed killed twice, first by President Sukarno and then by President Suharto.
Rosihan is a worthy recipient of the Malay World's Eminent Journalist award, organised in association with journalists' bodies in Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei. There were two recipients from each country.
The award would have lost all credibility, of course, if A. Samad Ismail had not been on the list. Pak Ros was looking for his old friend last night but was told by Samad's daughter, Nuraina A. Samad, that he was unable to attend and had conveyed his regards to Pak Ros.
He told me he'd first heard of the name A. Samad Ismail when the younger man was writing in Singapore in 1947.
"Then he came to Jakarta where I was based. He remained underground and was protected by Adam Malik at the time. I did not have the opportunity to meet Samad. But in 1965, we met for the first time. it was like we'd met so many times before. We were meeting like old friends."
I asked him to describe Pak Samad in a nutshell. He said it was not possible to compress Samad into a brief description. "Samad co-founded the PAP. Journalism could not confine this man."
Pak Ros said he wrote articles for the NST on the invitation of Pak Samad. This was well before Samad was arrested for the third and last time in 1976. He was detained under the ISA, when Hussein Onn was Prime Minister, for 5 years.
Nina, Samad's youngest, receive the award on behalf of her father from Selangor MB Khir Toyo. Dr Alias Mohamed, president of the ex-BH journalists association, and veteran Rejal Arbee look on.