Condolences and heartfelt sympathies poured in for the family of veteran journalist and author, Rehman Rashid, following news of his death early this morning.
Many remembered the 62-year-old for his books, particularly his 30-year-old bestselling social commentary, A Malaysian Journey, and its sequel, Peninsula: A Story of Malaysia.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin wrote on his Twitter account: “Remember vividly reading A Malaysian Journey & meeting Rehman as a student. He stirred a better Malaysia in my soul. Thank you. Al Fatihah.”
Television personality Daphne Iking tweeted: “A prolific writer. May your poetic soul rest amongst those beriman (devoted), Rehman Rashid.”
Daphne also shared a heartbreaking article penned by former New Straits Times group editor Datuk Syed Nazri Syed Harun on Rehman, entitled A Prolific Writer.
In the March 7 article, Syed Nazri described Rehman’s condition when he visited him at the Selayang Hospital where he had been warded since January after suffering a heart attack.
Fellow journalist Jahabar Sadiq wrote a lengthy tribute on Instagram, highlighting Rehman’s creative works: “Rehman Rashid, no length of the dash between your birth year of 1955 and today when you drew your last breath in 2017 can capture or equal your wit, eloquence, intelligence and personality.
“You’ve been a font of sparkling writing and the delight of those who enjoy the English language since 1981 when you joined the New Straits Times.
“Be it Scorpion Tales, or your Pangkor: Treasure of the Straits, to A Malaysian Journey in 1993, and finally Peninsula and Small Town in 2016, you have always delighted us with your mastery of the language and your extensive vocabulary.
“You captured Malaysia when writing in A Malaysian Journey: ‘I have found an answer to the question that had brought me home. The only thing wrong with Malaysia is the way Malaysia sees itself.’
“Those words still ring true to this day and perhaps for a bit more, even past our brief lives in this mortal coil.
“You rest now, Rehman. Your pen is at its stand, your longhand writing is done, your journal has ended, the cigar is but smoke and ash. We’ll carry on writing the words that can hopefully equal yours in meaning if not beauty.
“’There are two ways to belong to a place: to be born there, and to die there,’ you wrote in your foreword for Peninsula. You’ll always belong to Malaysia and more than that small town you love, Kuala Kubu Baru.
“Thank you for the friendship and the beautiful gift of words. I’ll write the book you said I should, soon. Rest in peace, brother,” he said.
Rehman had suffered a heart attack while out cycling in January.
Born in Taiping, Perak in 1955, Rehman studied at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar and received a degree in Marine Biology at University College Swansea, Wales.
He joined the New Straits Times as a journalist in 1981 and later served as an associate editor and columnist, before joining Asiaweek in Hong Kong as a senior writer.
He also worked at the Bermuda Business magazine before completing his book A Malaysian Journey in 1993.
Rehman was named the Malaysian Press Institute’s Journalist of the Year for 1985, and Bermuda’s Print Journalist of the Year for 1991.