Life is unfair. When Tunku Abdul Rahman retired, Kenny Hills was renamed Bukit Tunku and our first prime minister was given a house at the foot of Bukit Tunku.
When Abdul Razak Hussein passed away, his widow and family were given a house on Jalan Eaton just off Circular Road which was renamed Jalan Tun Razak.
When my father (Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman) died, he died as acting prime minister in a house he owned. My mother had to surrender the government car and received nothing from the Razak government except for a pension that my father was entitled to.
Several government properties were named after my father but some – such as the Tun Ismail Atomic Research Centre (Pusat Penyelidikan Atom Tun Dr Ismail or PUSPATI) – were renamed during Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s premiership.
A memorial budgetted for, and supposedly to be implemented by the National Archives, has not taken off and many Malaysians, as a result, have largely forgotten Dr Ismail and the ideals he fought and lived for.
Would it be proper for me, as his eldest son, to ask for fairness from the government to an entitlement now as passed by Parliament?
What can subsequent governments since Razak’s premiership point to that was given to my family, even as a token, of the nation’s gratitude?
Can I at least ask for seed capital or an asset I could monetise to set up a fund for scholarships in my father’s name, The Tun Dr Ismail Scholarship, which incidentally was Maybank’s proposed tribute to him as ex-chairman of Malayan Banking, but which never took off?
My late father asked for no reward or recognition for the work he did, voluntarily and willingly giving his life for to the nation he loved, and it would not be proper for me to burden the nation with any guilt or regret for not giving material wealth as reward.
But I do ask that his vision and ideals for the nation as recorded in his Hansard speeches and his policy pronouncements be enshrined and imparted as education in schools and universities so that we can be a better nation. FMT
Tawfik Ismail is the former MP for Sungai Benut