Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Hashim
0630:TWO men, possibly hewn from granite, one slightly taller than the other but looking dangerous in both gait and looks, sat at a table at an Indian tea stall near the start of a narrow road in the busy heart of Kuala Lumpur. Faces taut and tanned, noticeable even in the early morning hue, they took in the surroundings.
The taller man glanced at his watch, shifted his cotton sling bag, as did his partner, then smiled faintly to himself as he relaxed. They had time.
0700: June 7, 1974 had looked set to be another languid sort of day, except that, for me, it was somewhat special. In the kitchen of our old government-
owned colonial-style bungalow on Jalan Kia Peng, I was having breakfast with my father.
Fath e r ’s busy schedule as the inspector-general of police, always dutifully
criss-crossing the country in keeping a plethora of engagements, often kept him away from the family.
So, the tryst that morning was really something for me to savour.
Watching him, so commanding in his khaki-toned IGP uniform, the badges of authority sitting comfortably on his shoulders, sipping his no-sugar, no-cream coffee and browsing the newspaper, I started to muse over the different paths that he and I had taken. He, the policeman, ever secretive with information, and I, the reporter, always trying to dig or coax them out.
He got his kicks mocking me.
“What incident? I haven’t seen the report... who did you hear this from? ” he would ask, mouth half open and face deadpan, teasing almost.
I just gave up. You cannot squeeze water from a stone!
Father seldom gave me any quarter (in the professional sense), but he didn’t give much to others either, especially in matters affecting decorum. I got a spectacular show of this on the night of Aug 2, 1973, the day the late deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail Datuk Abdul Rahman, died of a heart attack in his Maxwell Road (now Jalan Tun Dr Ismail) home.
I was standing in the hall of the late DPM’s house, having emerged from the bedroom where I had paid my respects, and during which I had offered my condolences to his grieving eldest daughter, Zailah, an NST reporter.
Nearby, huddled together, were a distinguished mix of cabinet members, most of whom I recognised.
They spoke in hushed tones. The DPM had just died and his powerful post of internal security minister had fallen vacant. I could only guess the topic of their discussion.
Quite suddenly, my father strode into the hall, paused, cocked his head at the group — all of whom he knew — and immediately understood what they were talking about. Very purposefully, he walked towards the Yang Berhormats.
In the mournful silence of the wake, father’s clear but measured voice seemed to crash all around the room, as he spoke, “No more talk about succession, all right. Any more of this and I’ll have all of you arrested.”
The effect was immediate, as was the silence that followed. Then, one by one, the ministers, composure compromised, started to walk away.
A few left the house altogether.
Walking past me where I had stood rooted, still rather bemused and not knowing how to react, father, still piqued at the apparent show of disrespect towards his boss and good friend, flashed a look at me.
Maybe he was surprised to see me there, but then again maybe not, and even though he said nothing, the message was clear. “Yo u ’d better not report this.” As if I would.
Father ’s power show of conviction, (the English call it “balls” or cojone in
Spanish) was always acted out in absolute belief in himself, that he didnot carry any baggage, political or money-wise. I remember as a child, I often accompanied him on his Hari Raya Aidilfitri rounds, visiting the homes of various ministers.
I noticed that, at each stop, on seeing father at the doorstep, the VIPs — household names they all were — would rush down to greet him, laugh and banter.
Later, while driving home, he would ask me, rather reflectively, “Jib, do you know why those people were so nice to me?”
I would be busy counting the wads of duit raya shoved into my hands (if you cannot corrupt the father, corrupt the son), and though annoyed at the distraction, still mumbled out questioningly, “Because you’re a ma-ta-mata?” (old parlance for policeman).
Until today, I could still remember his reply, “Y-e-s, also because I know everything that they do... everything. And I tell them whenever they misbehave.”
But father did not like to admonish people publicly, be it his own men or
hopeful bribe-givers. “I don’t like to make people lose face,” he once said.
Father believed in giving people second chances because he always believed that mistakes are the best teacher.
He also harboured an unwavering trust in his men. His aide de camp, the late Datuk Syed Othman Salleh, once recalled a high-powered topsecret security meeting in Bangkok.
“I was with your dad in the office of the Thai defence chief,” Syed Othman said. “After a while, the discussion got down to sensitive details.
“The Thai general glanced at me, then told your father that he would be more comfortable if there were only four eyes in the room. Your dad
quickly replied that he had complete trust in me.”
Syed Othman added that the Thai general tried to get father to reconsider, but he simply told the Thai that “if my man goes, I go”. At this point, the ADC paused, looked at me, then said, with absolute finality, “Jib, your father was a leader of men.”
0730: I was jolted out of my reverie by father’s rasping voice telling me that he had to go. He looked at mother, Puan Sri Halimah Mat Isa, gave her RM50 to buy ingredients for mee rebus and told her, somewhat ominously, “that I will not be coming home today before Friday prayers”.
Neither mother nor I could forbode the darkness that would descend on
Earlier on, Syed Othman had called and was told by my father not to accompany him from the house in Jalan Kia Peng as was the routine, but instead to meet him at the office.
That call was to save his life. The trip to Bukit Aman federal police headquarters was unscheduled, however. My father was to attend the Thai-Malaysian General Border Committee (GBC) meeting at the Federal Hotel in Jalan Bukit Bintang. But something urgent had cropped up, enough to cause the re-routing.
Mother had advised him to go straight to the hotel.
“Let Syed pick up whatever you need at the office and pass it to you later at the hotel,” she said.
Mother was always the practical one. Born in the lunar year of the Tiger, she was the engine that ran the house, kept the children — all seven of us — meticulously in check during every stage of our growth and steadfastly was the “push factor” in father’s career in ways that far belied her simple village schooling. It was in honour of mother’s uncanny abilities that he once hung a note in the house which said: “I am the boss of the house and whatever my wife says must be obeyed.”
But that morning, just that one time, he did not heed his wife, and climbed into his sky blue Mercedes to go to Bukit Aman. Mother had always sounded her fears about the one-way one-lane road that he normally took to go the office. She thought it provided the perfect setting for an ambush.
Sadly, her fears would later come to bear.
0740: The two men left their seats at the tea stall and moved towards an agreed point, about five metres from the start of Lorong Raja Chulan. They surveyed the scene. It was the usual working day activity with people walking, cycling and driving to work.
More importantly for the duo, cars were moving slowly along the road by which they stood. Suddenly tense, the pair dipped their hands into their sling bags and cast a sharp look at a car entering the lane. It was time.
They were now on the threshold of criminal lore.
0745: Driving out of the house, I gave a quick glance at workers putting up several marquees in the sprawling compound. My father had planned to throw a dinner for about 200 Malaysian and Thai police officers on Saturday night to mark the end of the GBC meeting.
Once more, it never crossed my mind that the tents would house a more morose
Read more: My father, the IGP, was gunned down http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/M...#ixzz0qEmhBcek