Another hero has gone to rest. The colourful, outspoken blogger Bernard Khoo succumbed to cancer today after a 21-month battle. He was 74.
For Bernard, blogging was about being engaged in a daring and romantic adventure with real bravado. He didn’t mince his words. He was a modern-day swashbuckler, blogging with a flourish, you half-expected a ‘Z’ to rip through the computer screen.
But he was not blogging for fun. He was trying to create a new Malaysia through his writings – one where boundaries of ethnicity and religion would be crossed when people think of themselves as real Malaysians. He was committed to the cause of justice, political change and reforms. His last blog post was on 19 January 2014, when he reproduced an Aliran e-newsletter message from Aliran honorary secretary Mustafa K Anuar on the Allah controversy.
A former teacher-turned-motivational master trainer (he unpretentiously described his career and educational background as working “from home, in kopi tiams and assorted watering holes of repute”), Bernard was not content to just clatter on a keyboard. He inspired Malaysians with his forthright courage. During the Perak power grab, when many cowered as hundreds of police ringed the Perak State Assembly, Bernard coolly strolled past the overwhelming police presence to register his protest at the front-lines – and was eventually arrested for his trouble. His calm, steely fearlessness in the face of raw power was something to behold.
Later that year, in November 2009, he was questioned by police for a possible offence under the Sedition Act over a couple of blog posts he had made. But he survived that.
When he came up to Penang and spent a couple of days at my place, I finally got to meet the real Bernard up close: a decent, courageous Malaysian who left a deep impression on me.
In his blog profile, Bernard said, “After doing the best I could for Patrina and Kevin I would want my grandsons Bernard, Ryan and Patrick and whoever Kevin fathers, to remember that their grandpa tried his best to make this a better world for them.” He more than did his fair share; he showed us we have nothing to fear but fear itself.
When on 24 September last year, he announced he had stopped smoking (“Today I gave Karen a birthday gift”), one of those who rejoiced was a familiar figure. “It’s a miracle and praise the Lord,” gushed the late Irene Fernandez in a Facebook comment.
Today, we can be sure they are both in a far better place, cheering us on after handing over the baton to us in the struggle to create a more just world.
Thanks to blog reader looes74 for the video link.
According to Haris Ibrahim’s blog:
The wake will be held at Parlour 1 at St Ignatius Church, No. 2, Jalan SS25/23 Taman Plaza, 47301 PJ, Saturday and Sunday between 1.00pm and 10.00pm. Wake prayers on both these days will take place at 8.00pm.
The funeral mass will be at 11.00am on Monday, 7 April, at the same church.