Being Mat

Rural Resettlement, Social Engineering and Leadership in Malaysia


In order to find yourself, you have first to lose yourself in the service of others

– Mahatma Gandhi


My father is a very special man. Not for his achievements which has been plentiful, but because he has been blessed with the gift of loving what he did for a living – being part of nation building – and having had a lot of fun while doing it. Although to my mind he has deservedly been given numerous unsolicited awards, accolades and recognition for his hard work and the single-minded dedication to this country he loves, it is the private, deep pleasure he has derived through his rich and full life of service that is most satisfying to him. Who is this intensely private man and what in his early years made him the driven man that underscored his approach to every task?

Here are some of the anecdotes that he has shared with us, his children, as we were growing up and even now as we sit around meals, reminiscing. In writing this, I am mostly his scribe, and except for editorial license, have taken his words almost verbatim. I believe that a person’s dreams are windows to his soul.

I also acknowledge my debt to Dr Rokiah Talib and her book “Architect of Felda” for showing me the breadth and depth of my own father. Despite growing up under his roof, and having lived my young life knowing that my father was a very, very busy man, Dr Rokiah made me understand why? She has inspired me to study him, how he did what he did and what I can learn from him. After all, as his daughter, I am one of the few who has exclusive access to this fountain of experience and wisdom. It has proven more challenging than I had thought, but also, very rewarding.

In undertaking this work, as a scholar and researcher I needed to understand the context and history of his life’s work, so I studied his speeches and documents to understand his thought process, the external influences and the internal compulsions that affected the man.  Some historical background is necessary to provide context, but you can choose to read them or not.

I will also include some posts from my personal perspective his influence as a father on my development as a human being.



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