Are we a failed nation?

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The greatest tribute that we all could give the late Rustam Sani is to take the messages in his recently launched book and work in our own ways towards a better Malaysia, says his son, Azrani Rustam.

It is not easy to say more about a great person whose ideas and opinions had touched so many and struck a chord across sections of society. So much has been said and written in the past few days since my father’s departure that captures very much all that was Rustam A. Sani.

But the Rustam that I know, the father, the friend, was more than just that man whose prolific writings had influenced the hearts and minds of so many people. He was an embodiment of his writings. Whatever he had written was supported by not only conviction, but also with his deeds. We, the family, saw how he lived by the words he expressed, by the thoughts and ideas he generated.

Wrote fearlessly … felt strongly

Papa wrote fearlessly, not merely because he could, but because he strongly felt that he should. He was imbued with a strong sense of need to highlight the issues that were impacting the country, the people, and to share his deep-rooted concerns over the direction this country was moving towards. He wrote because he knew we, as a nation, as a people, could do better politically, socially and culturally.

Yet, Papa did not merely complain and criticise. The comments in his writings were always underpinned by an intellectual base, a reason, and an academic explanation, which he expressed in the simplest and clearest of writings over the years to reach the masses. That was his greatest joy – that people could relate to his writings, which left an indelible mark on readers.

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And if he were here today, to see all of you, all the people that have been “touched” by his writings, thoughts, opinions and his even sharp criticism over the years, he would have been extremely proud and honoured.

On behalf of my family, I would like to thank friends and family members for the tributes that have been pouring in and for the support you have given us during this difficult time. Your words have been both consoling and comforting and we will never forget them. We would also like to thank the Strategic Information and Research Development Centre for bringing these two books to life for my father.

In these two books, Papa has provided us with both a lesson in social and political history (in Social Roots) and a snapshot of the issues that we need to tackle moving forward based on the concerns that he had of our present times. With these two books, Papa has provided us a picture of the past, a picture of the present, and some ideas to achieve a better future.

Papa has left us – but he left us with truly the greatest gift that any father could have passed on to his son, that any individual could have given to his nation: his words.

And he has left us with a question: Are we a failed nation? And I believe that the greatest tribute that we all could give my father is to take his messages in this book and work in our own ways towards a better Malaysia so that the generations of Bangsa Malaysia to come can say we have succeeded as a nation. For my father knows, we could do better.

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