After 7 months of being confined to our homes, it’s finally the month of August! As we kick-start this month, with the national political, economical and health situation unchanged, it might seem too stressful to even plan out the month when everything is in a constant state of despair. However, it should be noted that the month of August is our independence month in conjunction with Independence Day on 31st August.
While this year’s Independence Day might be a quiet affair, after a thorough analysis of our country’s current dilemma, combatting Covid-19, it would actually be great if we could use this month to read up about our Malaysian icons. Individuals as such have contributed greatly to our country’s ever-changing landscape. They have excelled in their respective fields while displaying the true spirit of being a Malaysian. A prime example of this is none other than, Adibah Amin!
The current political situation in our country is definitely in complete chaos however, we should be reminded of this 85-year-old’s written pieces of work. From her “As I Was Passing” column in the New Straits Times newspaper to her novel, “The End of The Rainbow”, we have witnessed her ideas, and wit in showcasing the best of Malaysia. At times like this, where journalists are being arrested for writing brutally honest pieces, Adibah’s articles are a strong reminder to uphold the truth!
Previously, she has used the pen name of Sri Delima to write her articles and following that, she proceeded to use her own name for her published work. Just like the ruby gemstone, her articles resemble the undeniable strength and resilience of Malaysians far and wide. Starting off with being a columnist for the New Straits Times, her “As I Was Passing” column was a favourite among Malaysians as she fascinated everyone with her musings and reflections — largely addressing the Malaysian psyche with wit, wisdom and overflowing love. This has generated a huge audience, who subsequently became her fans.
That was definitely an era where journalism was a free space for the nation’s writers. Adibah’s style of writing definitely has something to do with her passion; teaching. Every story weaved by her despite having humorous aspects, often has a moral that would be taught to her dear readers.
To kill two birds with one stone via her articles and stories, you’d get entertained and eventually learn a lesson that would live on forever. Apart from being a writer, this Johor born icon has dabbled in acting and was a successful journalist and translator too! In fact, she bagged the Best Supporting Actress award at the Malaysian Film Festival in 1980 for her role as Cikgu Bedah in the movie, “Adik Manja”.
Instilling kindness to people would often seem like a difficult task to pursue, however, Adibah does this with ease. Instead of teaching people to be kind, her understanding of human nature and calling Malaysians out for their irresponsible behaviours, have inspired us to be kind. However, she does not play the blame game. She shoulders part of the blame as she strongly believes that we, as Malaysians share a collective responsibility when it comes to tackling societal ills.
Another prominent theme that clads her stories and written pieces are racism. That was her concern and sadly, it’s still a concern to even the generation of today. Brutally explaining the concept of racism was Adibah’s speciality. She truly understood that the polarisation occurring within our nation is too heavy although she, just like many others, hope for an undivided Malaysia.
The beauty of Adibah’s stories is the solution that they bring forth. Referring to her article, “Them and Us” from her book “Glimpses”, she gently addresses the topic of othering — bravely depicting the fear of threats to one’s way of life from people of a different social group, leading to marginalisation of people who aren’t part of the dominant social group i.e., the minorities.
Continuing it, as a solution, she states that “Every mother has it in her power to help break the circle. For a start, some mothers teach their children to answer ‘Malaysian’ when asked their race. One mother goes a step further. To that question, her children cheerily reply: ‘Human’.”
Sensitive topics were her pride as she has always reminded her readers, time and time that they should not shy away from talking about sensitive topics. Yes, the same old sensitive topics that would lead to you getting arrested these days!
Another article from Glimpses called “Memories of Merdeka” addresses sensitive issues as such. Taking an excerpt from the article, she asks, “And how do you convince a schoolgirl we are all Malaysians together when observation and intuition tell her that certain classmates will have better opportunities by virtue of parentage, community and connections?”
Another example of this in her work is her “The End of the Rainbow” novel which addresses the heavy topics of ethnic diversity, social injustices and racial prejudice. The preface reads, “I pray that all of us in our own ways will work towards the ‘pot of gold’ on the other end of the rainbow: our shared dream of lasting harmony.”
This national icon had unfortunately suffered from a stroke in 2008 and is now under the care of her younger sister, Fadzilah. Albeit this, her work still lives on in the heart of many Malaysians. In the midst of any crisis that our country faces, we could indeed agree that her works would make us love our country regardless of its imperfections. This is the symbol of unconditional love for our country and we would like to thank Adibah Amin for showing us what it truly means to be a Malaysian!
Source: Free Malaysia Today