THE PASSING OF A STATESMAN AND A MALAY COLLEGE OLDBOY, TAN SRI SANUSI JUNID. By Hisham Badurul Hashim (MCOBA 76)
Today , 9th March 2018, a prominent MCOB ( Malay College Old Boy,), Tan Sri ( TS) Sanusi Junid (Class of Tarinaga 61), a statesman , a banker and a blogger, returned to Allah at pre-dawn today. A great loss to the fraternity of MCOBs , my home state Kedah and to Malaysia. I was told in another WhatsApp group, arwah TS Sanusi collapsed after taking wudhu ( ablution) before subuh prayers and collapsed. He died on a Friday , the revered day in a week.
The last time I met up with Arwah TS Sanusi Junid was on 17th January 2018, when he came to give a talk at the MCOBA Building . His talk came about after a flurry of interesting emails about his anecdotes during his colourful life , especially during his days in MCKK. His talk definitely made it a very worthwhile afternoon for many the MCOBs who made it there.
The captivating speaker that he is, TS Sanusi brought us on a journey beginning with his roots in Aceh, Sumatra to his unforgettable ordeal in trying to get into the Malay College after being refused admission upon @ checking -in", all by himself, by HM JDR Howell and how he finally became a bona fide Malay Collegian after earning his daily keep washing dishes at the eating outlet at KK Railway Station as he couldn`t possibly go back home since he was penniless.His salvation was in the form of Mr. Tara Singh & Mr. NJ Ryan,the newly appointed HM who had just replaced that earlier HM. Then, he talked on to his early career, leading on to how he got into politics, his double incarceration in prison in London, and , "for-our-ears only" snippets of the real truth behind some of the most mis-perceived events which happened in the hallowed corridors of power and also, some most fascinating revelations concerning one or two Royalty members, and the real truth behind that former Lord President`s sacking.
Being a good story teller that he is, he had a treasure trove of anecdotes and precious information which he also writes in his blog. In his blog sanusijunid. blogspot.my , with the motto ‘ Demi Agama dan Tanah Air’ the following is his profile: ‘Sekolah Melayu Yan,(1950-1953); Ibrahim School Sungai Petani, Kedah (1954-1956); MCKK (1957-1963); Assistant Scout Master 1st Kuala Kangsar; Berlitz School of Languages, City of London College, London School of Economics, and Hamburg University of West Germany for Associateship of the Institute of Bankers (London); Member of UMNO since 13 October, 1963; Information Officer of Alliance Club, London (1969); Sec.Gen.of Malaysian Association of Youth Club (MAYC) - (1971); President of MAYC (1972-2002); Founder Vice-President of ABIM (1971-1973); Manager of The Chartered Bank up to 1977; Chairman of SHAMELIN (1975-1977); General Manager of SHAMELIN (1977-1978); Member of Parliament (1974-1995); Sec. Ge. UMNO (1984-1988); V/President of UMNO (1990-1993); Kedah State Assemblyman (1995-2004); D/Minister (1978-1981; Minister (1981-1995); Menteri Besar of Kedah (1996-1999); Professor of Nanjing University, China; President of International Islamic University Malaysia (2000-2008); Honorary PhD. (Politics and Development) University Utara Malaysia. ‘ His profile alone tells you about his experiences and knowledge worthy of a statesman.
As I observed TS Sanusi Junid has had lesser positive exposures of his ideas, even by the UMNO owned media, in his 30 years as an UMNO elected representative, and while in office. Scattered pieces, however, do appear in magazines and periodicals which have limited readers.
It is therefore necessary, for a better and correct understanding of his ideas and activities, that this eulogy is produced, as his articles that has been produced in his blog, of this nature, will never again be produced in the future.
In his nearly 40 years in the national political arena, former Federal Minister and Kedah Menteri Besar Tan Sri Sanusi Junid has drawn mixed reactions; from tacit approval to outright admonition.
Tan Sri Sanusi Junid, 74, has been a prominent media figure since entering political playing field more than 30 years ago. And why shouldn’t he be? His radical, albeit controversial, ideas, sense of humour, art of story-telling and no-nonsense approach to work has been a source of endless amusement, criticism and even inspiration.
When he gave a talk to MCOBs at the King Pavilion Cafe on that 17 January 2018 , he seemed more relaxed compared to his days as Minister of National and Rural Development, Minister of Agriculture and Menteri Besar. This change of pace seems to suit him fine.
Sanusi stepped out of the political limelight after the 1999 general elections when he was blamed for Umno’s poor performance in the northern state of Kedah. The majority of Parliamentary seats went to the opposition while Sanusi maintained a two-third majority for the BN to rule the state.
The incident obviously left him deeply disillusioned, being a fervent proponent of Muslim unity. ‘Now, I can fight political force, and I have a lot of experience in it but I cannot live with traitors,’ he writes. ‘I cannot sit down and plan with those who defeated their own party to fight the Opposition next time around. So because of that, he decided to leave against the Prime Minister's advice.
TS Sanusi accepted the position of International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)’s president to continue his quest of building world Muslim unity. Just 10 months into his tenure and he was already churning out plans for various projects .
This is hardly surprising though. After all, he is probably best remembered as the man with strange, ridiculous and often kooky ideas (see below). Critics have labelled him a day-dreamer; impractical and irrational. But TS Sanusi is far from perturbed. Anything new will be heavily criticised,’
One of his successful campaigns promoted the drinking of coconut water. TS Sanusi, a natural story-teller has unconventional ideas for the mere mortals and I suppose that his upbringing and schooling at MCKK has a lot to do do with that. Thus, TS Sanusi launched an all-out campaign to dispel the myth of impotency by highlighting research by different authorities on the benefit of coconut water as a medicinal fluid and relaxant.
TS Sanusi’s ideas were farsighted, but to the layman, they were nothing more than jokes because they could not see what he saw. He points out that TS Sanusi’s idea of using old tyres to build an artificial reef was similar to the efforts of the United States and Japan, but much cheaper.
Those who have worked closely with TS Sanusi will attest that he wasn’t just a dreamer. He’s a serious worker who moves very fast. When he visualises something, he starts doing it first. He believes that if he were to go through all the formalities, it would just take too much time.
For example, when TS Sanusi had an idea for Karyaneka, a crafts village, he just started on the projects and completed it within two to three months. When he thought of the Bukit Cahaya Agriculture Park in Shah Alam, he went in and started clearing the area first before starting discussion with the state government. TS Sanusi would immerse himself in whatever project he was working .
TS Sanusi is also known for his meticulous habits. He is someone who do seek popularity, but remained humble and approachable . TS Sanusi’s philosophy was that people only criticise you if you are working. He used to say, if you want things to materialise, step on people’s toes; if you want to be popular, don’t work so hard. He never got upset. He had his own way of doing things.
Perhaps one reason why TS Sanusi’s peers could not see eye to eye with him is that he had a different plane of thought. An intellectual on many counts, TS Sanusi was exposed to so many other worlds, concepts and philosophies, thanks to his voracious appetite for books. TS Sanusi has his own personal library, with more than 20,000 books neatly organised, housed just a few doors away from where he lives in Pantai Baru. He reads in the car, in waiting rooms and airports.
It is not surprising then that TS Sanusi is an active advocate for the reading habit. His previous projects include a citizen’s reading centre, Pubara, at Paya Pahlawan in Jitra and a book village, Kampung Buku Malaysia, in Lubuk Semilang, Langkawi.
Along with his love for books, comes a flair for languages. Besides Bahasa Malaysia and English, he also speaks German, Tamil and Dutch. Of course, being of Acheh descent, he speaks Achenese well . He is also cruising through Arabic and Mandarin, Linguistic must be in his blood as his father, a lorry driver, was also well-versed in a whole host of languages.
He studied German when he was in Form 3 at the Malay College, Kuala Kangsar, Perak. A teacher, wanting to make some extra money, asked him to gather a few students for foreign-language classes at RM20 per person. ‘I asked him whether if I gathered 10 fellows, I could get in free, and he said yes, ’as TS Sanusi writes in his blog.
He picked up Tamil in Form 4, when he was sick in an Ipoh hospital for more than two months. At that time, all the doctors, nurses and hospital assistants spoke Tamil. Bored one day, he went with a hospital assistant to watch a Tamil film – Paalum Paghamum (milk and banana). After that, he bought the tape and listened to the song in Tamil. After two days, I memorised the song, TS Sanusi writes . ‘I had first-class food in the third-class ward. Eventually, they shifted me to the second-class, then to the first-class ward.’ Motivated, Sanusi says he started reading children’s books to learn the language.
Most of his time is spent with his family. Married to Puan Sri Nila Inangda Manyam Keumala, an architect Sanusi has seven children, four girls and three boys. The eldest, a 34 year-old chemical engineer, was based in Holland; the youngest is 24 years old His other children are studying in various fields; religious studies, chemistry, architecture and medicine. The family is reputedly close-knit, religious and, surprise, surprise, bookworms.
During his last talk at MCOBA, he says he does have plans, though, to write a book, someday, on the stories behind his ideas. But he laments, ‘Of what value is writing in a society that does not read?’ In the past, he has published three books, mostly compilations of his speeches.
Whatever he chooses to do , it is certain that TS Sanusi that he had continue to be an interesting personality to be remembered till the end
To recap amongst the inspired ideas of arwah TS Sanusi Junid are :-
1. Romancing your wife campaign; grey hair plucking competition for couples.
2.. Growing vegetables in backyards, roundabouts and homes, via hydroponics.
3. Using lifestock as competition prizes. In a golf tournament organised by the Agriculture Ministry in 1991, the top three prizes included a bull, a sheep and a rabbit. The hole-in-one prize was a horse and a four-wheel drive vehicle. Even the worst golfer got to take home 18 chicken eggs.
4. Simfoni Peladang: a symphony orchestra made up of musically inclined farmers. Along with that, the Agriculture Ministry came up with an album, Balada Taman Pertanian, by its singing group, Kumpulan Senitani. Talks were also held to introduce modern musical instruments to children of farmers and fishermen.
5. The ‘Ideal Village’ concept to mould positive attitude toward cleanliness, and beautification programmes among rural farmers.
6.Eating promotions for ulam, rabbits, sheep and freshwater fish.
7. Coconut-water-drinking campaigns, along with coconut-climbing competitions.
8. Clean toilet competitions for Kedah mosques, schools and petrol stations.
9. Creation of artificial reefs with old tyres.
10. The “Venice of the East’ project: a project to develop a 10 km waterfront along Sungai Kedah as a tourist site.
11. Rooftop padi planting project at the community reading centre in Kedah.
12. Kedai Runcit Masjid: a project to turn Kedah’s mosques into community centres with retail shops.
13. Kampong Buku Malaysia: a book village in Langkawi.
14. Teachers’ diary of teaching experiences, so that they could write books when they retire.
After his talk at MCOBA on the 17th January, I approached him and introduced myself as a son of my father. My father was a former Kedah politician and a former Parliamentarian in the late 70’s and early 80’s together with TS Sanusi. His white eyebrows rose up as he retorted “ La! Kirim salam kat dia no! Dia kawan baik saya”. Those were his kat words to me.
Love him or hate him, one thing about Arwah TS Sanusi Junid was that he was a colourful man of principle , a , a loyalist , a veracious fighter and a friend to everybody.
Indeed, his ideas and thinking was unconventional and ahead of others. A true blue Budak Koleq.. and a true statesman till the end...
Al- Fatihah. May his soul be placed amongst the Righteous.