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Tan Sri A Samad Ismail (1924-2008), Journalist

It does not do justice to describe Samad Ismail as a larger-than-life and stop at that. Pak Samad, as he is fondly and popularly known, may be a giant but he was more than that. He was also an ordinary man. It was in his ordinariness that he became extraordinary.

Although I was in the NST group, I did not work directly under him as I was in another section that he had little interest in – the business desk. But he immediately struck me as an editor so sharp that nothing can escape him. He was serious and jovial both at the same time, but no one took him for granted.

He was the supremo in the newsroom but he needed no title or rank to point to this fact. That was recognised by all and sundry. Everyone knew who the boss was. He snooped and prowled ever so steathily around the newsroom. But no one was ever in fear of him. Except maybe for the sluggards. His presence was assuring. That of a master and mentor.

Sadly, Pak Samad’s passing also brings to a close of a chapter of Malaysia’s journalism. The new readers hardly know him.

Once my daughter who worked as a physiotherapist at Assunta Hospital in Petaling Jaya came home one day and casually remarked that she had treated an old Malay man in sarong and in a wheel chair who guffawed away as she treated him.

“He’s so funny,” she said.

She told him that I am also a journalist and Pak Samad told her that he knew me. Curious, I asked my daughter who the Malay man was. She said, “He just said his name is Pak Samad.”

“That’s Tan Sri Samad Ismail, not any ordinary Malay man in a wheel chair,” I said.

It’s so sad my daughter and her generation do not recognise this extraordinary man, a wordsmith, a master of his craft and much more.

Fortunately, the national journalism laurette and freedom fighter has left behind a treasury of his writings for the unitiatied to get acquainted with Pak Samad. Litera Scripta Manet - the written word endures. Sadly missed. (By BOB TEOH/ MySinchew)

MySinchew 2008.09.05


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