Dramatic tale of a quest for justice
IT is a tale worthy of a movie or a TV mini series, said no less than Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim, adviser on social and cultural matters to the Federal Government.
Dr Rais was commenting on the book entitled Vendetta And Abuse Of Power: Quest For Justice In The Land Below The Wind at its recent launch.
The 807-page book by Dr Shaari Isa is an account of events in the life of the late Syed Kechik Syed Mohamed Albukhary (1928-2009), former legal advisor to Sabah’s third chief minister, Tun Datu Haji Mustapha Datu Harun.
The book touches on Syed Kechik’s humble beginnings in Kedah, how he became a notable lawyer, and his contributions to development in Sabah through his brainchild, the Sabah Foundation. In spite of his contributions to the state, however, when political winds shifted, Syed Kechik found himself beset by trouble: land was seized, a timber licence was cancelled, and finally, in 1977, he was expelled from Sabah. It was the beginning of a lengthy legal battle that lasted nearly four decades.
The book offers glimpses into the attempts by Syed Kechik and his brother, Syed Salem Albukhary, to regain and perpetuate their family’s honour and good name. Syed Salem took up his elder brother’s cause and his unyielding spirit and diligence helped him restore his sibling’s honour and dignity.
At the book launch, Dr Rais sang praises of the writer, Shaari, for his meticulous research, and Syed Salem, for his perseverance in pursuing what he believed to be his late brother’s quest for justice. He said the writer had managed to weave facts, narrative sources and analysis into cogent conclusions.
“By the yardstick of research and journalism, I strongly commend the work as a genuine product of investigative writing for which many a journalist or a PhD student would fare well to emulate,” said Dr Rais, adding that, “each source and each statement is well footnoted in the manner of a thesis.”
It took Shaari three years to complete the book, which features 16 chapters enhanced with photographs, maps, letters, reports and detailed illustrations.
The author began his working life as a teacher trained by the renowned Kirkby College in Britain; his further studies included a course in English literature, which fuelled his interest in creative writing. After a long career in the Education Ministry, Shaari earned a master’s degree followed by a doctorate and became a lecturer in accounting at the International Islamic University Malaysia and Universiti Malaya.
Shaari has an equal interest in both literary and academic writings. His works include essays and journal articles; school, college and university texts; and short stories and novels. His writings, in particular his essays and novels, reflect his deep concern for social order, clear thinking and the pursuit of happiness.
MPH Group Publishing Sdn Bhd has published Vendetta And Abuse Of Power: Quest For Justice In The Land Below The Wind in English, Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin; the book is available at all major bookstores in Malaysia and Singapore.