I will always remember Tok Guru Nik Aziz for his utter simplicity, his humble lifestyle and his genuine openness to inter-religious dialogue.

Tok Guru presents Bishop Sebastian with a mouth-watering cake: Where did the cake come from?
Tok Guru presents Bishop Sebastian with a mouth-watering cake

He lived in a modest kampung house, used a BIC ballpoint pen, and did not have much use for the trappings of power. Once when I interviewed him, along with a colleague from Aliran, I was startled that he opted to sit on the floor for the interview. This was the Menteri Besar of Kelantan, mind you.

One outstanding example of his openness to inter-religious dialogue is burnished in my memory. On the same day when an unknown group had threatened to hold a Bible-burning fiesta at the Butterworth padang, ratcheting up emotions, Tok Guru had other plans for the day, which happened to be his 82nd birthday.

He chose to diffuse tension by sweetening ties with Bishop Sebastian Francis in Penang, presenting him with a sumptuous cake, hours after wading through the Thaipusam crowds for the first time. It was a masterstroke, a triumph of bridge-building over bigotry. A day that had begun with mounting anxiety and uncertainty ended on a celebratory note and with a sense that there was still hope for this nation.

Mujahid, Nik Aziz, Sebastian and Francis and Marie Jeanne
Mujahid, Nik Aziz, Sebastian Francis and Marie Jeanne

Bridge-builder Abdul Rahman Kasim had been planning another meeting between Nik Aziz and Bishop Sebastian, this time in Kota Bharu on 27 February 2015. But it was not to be. “What to do?” lamented Rahman, when contacted just now.

Now the baton of inter-religious dialogue has been passed on to the likes of Mujahid Yusof Rawa, Khalid Samad and Dzulkefly Ahmad.

Cake diplomacy: A sweet touch indeed
Thanks, Tok Guru, for the sweet memories of inter-religious dialogue
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4 COMMENTS

  1. I may have some different opinions but every Malaysian regardless of religion should realise that Tok Guru was our very own symbol of honesty and incorruptibility, values which we sorely lack today. He was a uniting factor in Pakatan and helped keep the pact together throughout contentious/controversial moments. Without him, politics tomorrow will change forever.

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