Horrified by the carnage during the Gulf War in 1991, Fan Yew Teng tapped furiously on his typewriter to come up with this emotionally charged poem.
Alas, how often do we only recognise true greatness in people after they are gone forever. Maybe we are destined to do this over and over again because it is only in the vacuum of loss that we can step back and grasp the full impact of a life lived to the full. How true – and even more so – that is in the case of the late Fan Yew Teng. During his memorial in Brickfields on 5 January, speaker after speaker peeled away so many layers of Fan’s multi-faceted personality. Politicians tried to straight-jacket him but Fan refused to conform and crossed many real and artificial boundaries. He didn’t need the usual trappings of wealth and status to become a towering Malaysian.