Food, life, and fun in my "kampung,"(village), KL (Kuala Lumpur). Did I mention "food?"

Significance & Merdeka

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Many years ago, about 20 in fact, I met a man by the name of Cecil T. (Name has been changed)

He was even at the time just somewhat younger than my grandfather. Well...actually he's at least 20 years younger than my Grandpa Ambrose but anyone older than Dad was...well, old!

If you met him today you'd never know that he was in his 80s. He doesn't look it.

In any case, through those 20 years I've known him and spoken to him as one would a friend. He's always been kind, solicitous, and has given me very gentle guidance as one would, if not a son, at least the son of a close friend.

He is now in his 80s and he still swims every day. He owns a fantastically successful PR firm and when I asked Dad what he used to do, he said "oh, he was with The Straits Times (as it was known then before it becames The NEW Straits Times.)"

What's the point of this entry, you might be asking at this time.

I just read today's newspaper, The NEW Straits Times. The Merdeka edition. Oh, did I mention it's Independence Day for Malaysia?

In it, in a supplemental section, I saw his name to an article. It was dated June 1966. And the characters mentioned in it were people who are legends and who have the capacity to be part of the mythology of my young country. People like our first Prime Minister, who, in that article, were discussing ways to end the communist threat and Indonesian confrontation - a war by any other name. Events which moulded and defined our country, much like the war of independence the Americans always go on about.

And my friend wrote that article.

He was there. He watched, listened, and recorded these events for posterity.

For the Americans, it would be like someone you knew watching George Washington or John Adams negotiating (or not,as you please) with the British.

I'm truly proud of my country. Not for all the rah-rah that they always put on at this time. But it's people like my friend who live lives of significance. And it's people like him who throw this into focus for me. I've always wondered what living a life of significance meant.

Now I know.

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