The Star’s regular stories on history and national development have prompted a retired wet marker trader to share his stories on former Umno leaders, including past prime ministers.
Chow Shui, also known as Choo Ying Choy, has the distinction of personally knowing many of the country’s past leaders from the late Tunku Abdul Rahman’s time.
“I was quite close to Tun Ghafar Baba, Tun Ghazali Shafie and Tan Sri Aishah Ghani,” said Chow, 75, who used to ply his trade at Kuala Lumpur’s Pudu wet market.
As an unofficial representative of the Chinese living in the city, Chow was regularly spotted at Umno as well as Alliance (precursor of Barisan Nasional) gatherings.
“I was often asked to round up some key Chinese gatekeepers and community leaders so that the Barisan leadership could meet them,” he said in an interview.
He was particularly close to Aishah, the former Social Welfare Minister and Wanita Umno chief who passed away aged 90 in April last year, and whom he affectionately called “elder sister”.
Down memory lane: Then Minister for Information and Broadcasting Tan Sri Senu Abdul Rahman (right) and Aishah (second from right) Down memory lane: Then Minister for Information and Broadcasting Tan Sri Senu Abdul Rahman (right) and Aishah (second from right) attending a function, one of the many Chow (fifth from right) helped organise.
“I was invited to her home every Hari Raya. In fact, I helped organise several of the Umno gatherings in town, including some attended by Tunku,” he said as he produced his Umno membership card to show that he is a life associate member.
He has amassed a small collection of monochrome photos over several decades of rubbing shoulders with politicians, and keeps a file of all the correspondence with Umno and the Federal Government.
Of particular significance is one image of Tun Razak Hussein, taken on the second prime minister’s historic visit to China in 1974.
Chow is particularly proud that he was able to hand over the reproduction of the 40-year-old photo to his son, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, when the Prime Minister visited the redevelopment of 1Razak Mansion public housing scheme in Kuala Lumpur in April.
The photo was given to Chow by Razak’s driver shortly after the statesman’s return from China. Najib was only 21 then.
“I was rather close to Razak’s driver, and we used to go out for meals when he was off duty.
“I enlarged the photo before framing it up. I then waited for Najib before handing it to him when he came over to 1Razak Mansion,” said Chow, adding that Najib later posted the event on his Facebook page.
“I could tell you more about the politicians back then, at least up to Razak’s time, as I had the chance to interact with them rather often,” said the sprightly father-of-four.
On Aishah, Chow said she was a no-nonsense politician who abhorred the rabble-rousing style of politics.
“She detested those who intentionally stirred up emotions to create chaos,” he added.
Contributed by Meng Yew Choong The Star/Asia News Network
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