Thursday, August 24, 2017

Media  statement by M.Kula Segaran MP Ipoh Barat and DAP Vice Chairman in Ipoh on 24th August 2017

Passing of Haji Thasleem

These are lean times for the cause of a plural Malaysia.


Barely have we recovered from the stab of loss felt over the passing of Kerk Kim Hock the retired SG of the DAP than we discover that another stalwart Malaysian, Haji Thasleem Ibrahim, has passed from this life.

Thasleem left us at 10 pm on 23rd of August, 2017, at the relatively young age of 66. I mourn the loss of a good friend, a splendid citizen and a highly community-minded person.

I went out to see him at the hospital at 5:30 in the evening. I spoke to his wife while she kept watch by his bedside. The ward where Thasleem was admitted was crowded with people of all works of life to show their sympathies to the man.

I have known Thasleem for three decades. During that time I was fortunate to learn about aspects of his early life when his parents left for India, and he was brought up by a Hindu family.

Despite living with a Hindu family, his faith as a Muslim was never compromised.

Thasleem's life and the causes for which he fought reflect the reality that most people born into a faith do properly stand by it but their eyes survey the surrounding world.

They become what we call plural personalities, ones who discover that learning comes by way of a certain humility, a hesistance to judge others too quickly, and even a generous watchfulness for possible errors in one's own perspectives.

Thasleem's personality and life reflected these strengths, even as these were perceived as weaknesses by others. He was undeterred by the narrow perceptions.

For him, religion was blind to differences of race and language. Thasleem was a Tamil who reveled in the language and the customs of this ethnic group.

He was a staunch Muslim. I attended many of his Hari Raya celebrations where in all the functions he provided financial help to the downtrodden and marginalised who delighted in being hosted by a charitable man.

He was a rich man and generous in assisting the needy, especially students who required help to complete their education.

Thasleem willlong be remembered for what he did in 2011 when the Ministry of Education introduced a book called Interlok by the novelist Abdullah Hussain as a literature syllabus.

Readers found derogatory terms and references in the book to Indians and Chinese. Thasleem got involved in the process to demolish the Ministry of Education’s argument that the novel inculcates good among students.

Thasleem pronounced the book as haram under the Islamic religion. After months of debate, the Ministry of Education eventually withdrew the book.

Many feel that had it not been for Thasleem's exertions, we would not have succeeded in having the book removed from the curriculum.

About two weeks ago, he telephoned me to express his dismay at the government’s failure to enact laws to prevent unilateral conversion of minors by estranged and divorced spouses.

Thasleem was very involved in the Indira Gandhi unilateral conversion of minors issue from 2009 until the end of his life yesterday. He felt unilateral conversion of minors was contrary to his faith and he spoke against it bravely and often.

We have lost a man who courageously stood by principles although it affected his position in society.

The people of Malaysia have lost a good man. He will be remembered for his contributions to the necessity of building a plural Malaysia for many years to come.

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