The passing of a man who taught us how, and when to stand

A. Samad Ismail passed away today.

How do you properly mourn a man who became the living embodiment of the journalistic ideal? He was a freedom fighter, and at the same time a man of letters who still had time to write novels to augment his already hefty legacy.

Pak Samad was even detained for years under the ISA for daring to speak his views, championing what he believed was right for his country. Arrested by the British for working for a Japanese-sponsored paper during the Occupation, banned from Singapore and accused of association with a communist plot, he soldiered on, damn the consequences.

“The journalist naturally has to
persevere in his role as the champion of causes,” he once said.

Bapak, you indeed practised what you preached. From childhood, I knew your name among many who enriched our national literature-scape.

Bapak, I pray that your soul find rest and comfort. Al Fatihah.

And I pray for myself, bapak, that I can learn to be as courageous and as dedicated as you were. Because I know that right now, I fall so far from the mark. There is so much that is wrong with the country and how it works. But there are still things that are right – I pray for the courage and discernment to find them. And fight for them.

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