: The Malay proverb Harimau mati meninggalkan belang, manusia mati meninggalkan nama (A tiger leaves its stripes in death, a man leaves behind his name) is probably the aptest to use for Profesor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim - who is dead, but his deeds live on.
He was a historian through and through and no one can ever deny his contributions as the source of reference to many, especially to matters concerning Malaysia's history.
The country's most influential historian died on May 28 last year, and many quarters, especially members of the press, sometimes wish they can still call him to get his opinions and comments, especially with the upcoming July 9 celebration of the Rukun Negara 50th anniversary in conjunction with the Merdeka Month and National Day 2020.
Lest we forget the significant reason being that Khoo was one of those who had drafted the principles of Rukun Negara before they were declared on Aug 31, 1970.
Known for being firm, principled and fair in giving his perspective of the country's history, Khoo was also known as nationalist and a patriot.
"My father was always proud to introduce himself as a Malaysian," his eldest son, Eddin said when sharing his father's aspirations on Rukun Negara and unity with Bernama in a recent interview.
Eddin, 51, who is a writer, cultural activist, and patron of Pusaka, a cultural organisation, is now continuing on his father's legacy, especially in thoughts and views about Malaysian politics, history, and cultures.
"As the eldest of three siblings, I was close to my father. When I was five or six, I used to follow him to schools and other places across the country where he engaged in information programmes.
"Indirectly, he introduced me to Rukun Negara and told me the history of the places we went to, which at the same time built my interests in the Malay language as my father had a very good command of the language," he said.
Eddin said he and his siblings were raised to be courteous, polite, and respectful of others, besides being open-minded to embrace ethnic, racial, cultural, and religious diversity.
"No racial pride and prejudice allowed in our house.
"My father was a Peranakan Chinese from Kampar, Perak, my mother (Puan Sri Rathi Khoo) is Tamil and (when I was small) I was cared for by a Malay aunt who lived with us.
"It was indeed an extraordinary experience to have three major races in Malaysia living in the same house, practising their culture and religion in peace. It was that peaceful environment that made me hesitated to leave the house because I knew things were different outside," he said.
The Rukun Negara was introduced as a result of the meeting of Majlis Gerakan Negara (MAGERAN) which was set up following the May 13 incident in 1969 which weaken unity among the races in Malaysia. It was formed with the main purpose of forming a strong unity for the sake of the success and stability of the country.
Sharing his experience of interviewing his father in a programme which focused on Rukun Negara, Eddin said what impressed him the most was his father's open-mindedness in hearing the opinions of others.
"The discussions were rather heated as they were talking about the first principle of Rukun Negara, which is Belief in God. What was concluded was that most people have their own religious faith and they believe in God.
"But my father did not dismiss those who didn't, such as the atheists. This (open-mindedness) is the trait that was needed to enable such a topic to be discussed in greater depth," he said.
Eddin said through his observation after being involved in cultural programmes at the grassroots level for almost 30 years, Rukun Negara had indeed been well accepted by every Malaysian citizen.
"However, there is still a lack of observation and appreciation for the Rukun Negara on the people's part," he said.
As such, Eddin also expressed hope that more efforts would be taken to nurture the spirit of and respect for the Rukun Negara, especially among the younger generation.
"Although my father retired from the education service in 1992, many knowledge-seeking youths and students still came to his office at Universiti Malaya to seek his opinions on certain topics.
"I was so touched by this...and to know that five years before he died, he had engaged himself to meet and share his words of wisdom with as many young people as possible, made me very proud. I think he succeeded in that area," he said, adding that he also believed that a society capable of holding discussions and finding it okay to agree to disagree is indeed a mature society.