Dra­matic tale of a quest for jus­tice

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - READS - By ZORA CHAN star2@thes­tar.com.my

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.

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