Dedicated minister: Lat recalls sole encounter with late MIC leader

Dedicated minister: Lat recalls sole encounter with late MIC leader

Cartoonist remembers catching glimpse of Tun S. Samy Vellu’s no-nonsense, diligent character

KUALA LUMPUR – While the late Tun S. Samy Vellu’s wittiness and eccentricity had often amused Malaysians, renowned cartoonist Datuk Mohammad Nor Mohammad Khalid, or more popularly known as Lat, remembers catching a glimpse of the former minister’s no-nonsense, diligent and dedicated character, especially pertaining to his work.

This was a side of Samy that many Malaysians might not have been familiar with, as most knew him for his strident rhetoric, memorable repartee, and speech thickly coated with his trademark accent.

Lat, who produced several caricatures of the former MIC president in the past, recalled to The Vibes a chance encounter he had with Samy.

This had taken place during a flight from Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur in the late 1980s.

It was the only time Lat had met Samy, who was then the MIC president and a minister in the cabinet.

“I was sitting next to him on the plane, and he was busy throughout the flight,” Lat remembered.

“I wanted to talk to him, but I was concerned that I would bother him because his officers kept going up to him to pass some files and documents.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Lat could see Samy dabbing his finger on his tongue to help flip the pages in his hands.

“It wasn’t a long flight, but it was enough to show that he was committed to his job,” Lat said when contacted last night.

Samy passed away at his residence yesterday morning at the age of 86.

He was Sg Siput MP from 1974 to 2008 and had served in the cabinet for 29 years. He was works minister from 1983 to 1989 and again from 1995 to 2008. In between, he served as energy, communications, and posts minister.

Lat also recounted drawing caricatures of Samy, which he said was initially rather challenging, as the latter’s “good-looking” features made it more difficult to pen the likeness on paper.

“He was quite the handsome fellow and had a strong jaw. I had to make it funny but at the same time recognisable. But I think I portrayed him quite well.

“My stand has always been that if I do a caricature of someone, I want the person to be the happiest person whom I am drawing. Of course, I want to make my audience laugh, but I also have to make the person I’m drawing feel good about my art.

“And I think I managed to do that for him,” he said.

Lat added that seeing some of his artwork of Samy reappearing on social media makes him feel thrilled and appreciative that his drawings have proven to have a timeless appeal.

The cartoonist, who is behind the popular graphic novels Kampung Boy, Town Boy, Mat Som, and Lots of Lat said that he is particularly pleased as most of his works on popular personalities in the 1980s and 1990s were created when Malaysia was a more “happy” country.

“Many of my drawings of Samy were in the newspapers. He must have seen them, and for me, that’s good enough. I’m just happy to know that he would have seen my work.

“I’m just happy that I could contribute to the Malaysian cartoon industry,” he added.

Samy’s funeral procession will leave his residence in Jalan Ipoh here at 3pm today and arrive at the DBKL Crematorium in Jalan Kuari, Taman Pertama, Cheras for the final rites.

Following his passing, politicians from both sides of the divide expressed their condolences and paid their tributes to the former cabinet member, with many of them also paying their last respects at his home.

source – The Vibes

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