Tuesday, March 1, 2011
27 Feb - A life well (1953 - 2010)
Bala - A life well-lived (5-11-1953 till 16-11-2010)
27 February, St John Hall , Ipoh
Comrade G. Balasundram was stabbed to death by cowards-commissioned hitmen on 16 November 2010. His integrity and deep-seated intolerance of injustice coupled with the courage to stand up and act caused great uneasiness among certain circles, leading to his premature death. His sudden death is a loss to all – his family, the legal profession, the poor and oppressed, and his many close friends.
PSM and Friends of Bala held a memorial service for Bala on 27th. February 2011 and the attendance was full house. Besides family and friends, there were the downtrodden of all races and walks of life paying tribute to this great character.
The MC for the event was Segar – one of Bala’s closest friend. He said that we are here not to mourn and cry, we are here to celebrate and seek justice.
Many people spoke from PSM leaders, Bala’s friends as well as his sisters. There were tears, applause, slogans and silence.
M.Saraswathy spoke about Bala’s greatness and that the working class have lost a brave and principled lawyer. Dr. Kumar said that Bala always had time for the poor and we can contribute by being like him. Nasir read a poem. Bala’s sister gave a tearful account on what a wonderful brother he was. The estate workers, the farmers and the workers paid tribute and they all said that bala never spoke about fees but was also passionate to do their case.
The event ended with a signing in banner – calling for the culprit behind Bala’s death to be caught . PSM said that it will continue to seek justice for Bala .
LONG LIVE BALA !
Below are some of the written tribute to Bala
‘The legal profession: A calling, not mere gainful employment’
The death of Balasunderam Govindasamy on 16 November 2010 was a tragic and senseless one. Each and everyone of us who knew him lost either a friend, brother, son, father, husband and comrade on that day. I lost a dear friend and brother and it has indeed struck me very deeply, even today as I write this short note in memory of him. Whether I will ever recover, only time can tell.
Balasunderam was a barrister from the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple in London, of which I am also a member of. In the true traditions of the Bar of England and Wales, Balasunderam upheld the Rule of Law, without fear or favour and ultimately paid dearly with his life for upholding the integrity and honour of the legal profession. But more importantly, he taught me a very valuable lesson of what it means to be Called to the Bar.
In June 2007, I had the opportunity to peruse his legal caseload, out of curiosity, with his permission of course. What I discovered was the very large number of pro-bono cases that he was engaged in, as opposed to fee paying cases. I had a heated debate with him, taking the stance that he was not a charity worker and had responsibilities as a householder with a family to provide for. He just sat there silently for a few moments, looking at me with a gentle smile and then remarked,
"Steven, one day when you eventually become a barrister of the (Honourable Society of the) Middle Temple, you will be Called to the Bar. What that means is that you will voluntarily assume the heavy burden of upholding the Rule of Law and ensuring that Justice is done without fear or favour. It is not merely an opportunity to gainful employment as a lawyer but a Duty that you are answering to. That is why it is a Calling and not Employment. You will be the voice of the oppressed and the downtrodden, against those who seek to unlawfully and unjustly persecute them. You must have the courage to stand up and speak for them, defend them if necessary without expectation of being financially rewarded. That is the Calling, as you walk down the Great Hall of the (Honourable Society of the) Middle Temple, in the very footsteps of your predecessors before you and answer to your noble Profession"
That statement silenced me forever and we never had another debate about his pro-bono work. I do not need to disclose Balasunderam's pro-bono work as it was self-evident during his funeral. The ordinary man on the street mourned his passing. He was indeed a true friend, who would assist anyone in dire need, even those "least deserving" of assistance. That is who he is.
So, my dear friend and brother, Balasunderam Govindasamy, I pray that you rest in peace, as I will never be at peace until all those responsible for your cruel and vicious death are brought to justice.
London, United Kingdom
(former Political Secretary to the Member of Parliament (Batu Gajah) 1990 - 1995)
Peguam G. Balasundram yang lebih dikenali S.C. Thai Bala di Ipoh mengamalkan kehidupan sederhana, prihatin dan sentiasa meluahkan rasa bantahan terhadap sesuatu ketidakadilan samada dalam sistem politik, kehakiman dan juga terhadap mereka yang tamak dan mementingkan diri. Nilai kehidupan ini telah dihapuskan oleh pihak yang tidak disenangi terhadapnya pada 16-11-2010. Pembunuhan beliau bukan sahaja mengejutkan serta meyedihkan malah ia adalah satu kehilangan besar kepada kawan-kawannya terutamanya di PSM , malah juga masyarakat miskin yang mahukan keadilan.
Sistem kapitalis bukan sahaja merampas harta dan hak rakyat biasa malah juga menguburkan nilai kemanusiaan sehingga manusia sama manusia mengambil nyawa insan yang tidak berdosa. Walaupun Bala tiada di bumi ini, tetapi nilai kemanusiaan, keberanian, prinsip hidup dalam kariernya tetap menjadi pedoman kehidupan kepada kita semua.
K. Kunasekaran (CC member, Parti Sosialis Malaysia)
SMS Sdr Bala kepada Sdri Saras pada Ogos 2010
‘No point thinking like that. Just focus on the next step and proceed. There is always someone out there to give a helping hand.So do not despair. Have a good weekend. Do not distress yourself.’
HOW DO I SAY GOODBYE TO A BROTHER?
I STILL CANNOT BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE GONE
I’M STILL HOPING IT ISN’T TRUE
WISHING THIS GRIEF WERE JUST A NIGHTMARE
FROM WHICH I’D WAKE UP AND FIND
YOU ARE STILL HERE, IN LIFE WITH US
OR IF NOT
SOMEHOW IF TIME WE COULD REWIND…
FOR I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO IT
HOW TO SAY GOODBYE TO A BROTHER LIKE YOU
I OFTEN DWELL UPON THE MOMENTS
THE FAMILY SHARED WITH YOU WHEN WE WERE YOUNG
THE HARDSHIP, THE LAUGHTER, THE JOY, THE TOGETHERNESS AND THE SEPARATIONS
AND AS WE GREW UP THERE WERE MORE SPECIAL MOMENTS...
THE CARING AND PEACE LOVING BROTHER
The role he played in our lives on this earth was as a golden son, husband, doting father, caring brother and caring uncle.
My brother‘s religion was the religion of the heart. The religion in which the most important thing is to seek god in the heart of mankind. He was divine as a person and he cared for every person with whom he came in contact, in his thought, speech and action.
My brother was a simpleton who simply focused his attention on loving-kindness, compassion and generosity in every situation he encountered, and believed in letting the Almighty take action against those who behaved otherwise.
He believed that vengeance and retribution were not his personal task. He believed that anger, hostility and personal retribution would only beget more violence. He believed that retribution would be carried out by Divine Law wherein each one reaps that which is sown.
When you think of Bala, my brother, think still of immortality and infinity because to me, even though he has died he is infinitely immortal.
‘It is not form but content that matters in life..’
My brother was a good person, without an ounce of malice in his bones. He was kind and generous with his time, money and knowledge. He was also a caring son and brother in his own quiet way. A cliché and a hackneyed phrase you may say. But those who knew him well through the years would attest to these qualities. He distanced himself from people he disliked but would not disparage them.
Anan was unassuming, down-to-earth and simple in his ways. He neither owned a mansion nor drove a fancy car. He was not into branded clothes, watches or the latest cell phones either. Coming from extremely humble roots, material possessions meant precious little to him. He, therefore, remains a puzzle to the police in their investigations. Instead, Anan gave of himself to others. Many individuals were beneficiaries of his kind and generous soul. He was equally reticent about his good deeds. I only knew some of the cases when I became personally involved in them.
Anan made good friends, probably because he was one himself. His friends became family friends and are permanent fixtures in our lives. His childhood and school friends include Fay Loon, Ram Singh, Seong Lim and Jimmy while Nathan, Ragu, Vengkat, and Nadarajah were part of his adult life. Our lives have certainly been enriched by these enduring friendships. In fact, we were truly amazed to see so many friends and acquaintances from near and afar at his funeral. They also made time to attend numerous rites conducted over the days.
My brother was an anglophile although he would loathe to admit it openly. He loved the nuances in the English language, the British Library and Museum, the quaint bookshops which sold archaic materials as well as the numerous art galleries which dotted London. While we picked up the reading habit from our parents, it was he who introduced me to the world of “English” literature and theatre. As a child, I recall how excited he was whenever his alma mater, ACS Ipoh, staged a play. Dramas and musicals remain a rich heritage of any schoolboy/girl from ACS. Dirt poor as we were then, it was remarkable that I had the opportunity to watch so many wonderful school productions such as “Macbeth”, “Hamlet”, “Flower Drum Song” and “Alice in Wonderland.”
Anan was a history buff, loved good movies and documentaries. He took a keen interest in political developments around the world although he remained apolitical in his personal life. Ideas expounded in politics and philosophy fascinated him. A firm believer in social justice, he was often disillusioned by the level of corruption in the public and private sectors, the inefficiencies in Government, apathy displayed by civil servants as well as the dearth of good people/role models in public life. One of my last text messages to him was when Aung San Suu Kyi was released. True to form, he was also watching the events unfold, switching constantly between BBC, CNN and Aljazeera. He would have been fascinated by the non-violent manner in which Hosni Mobarak was ousted recently.
On the lighter side, Anan was technically and mechanically challenged – you could not get him to fix a light bulb or the faucet. He was simply hopeless at household chores. He could, however, give a theoretical explanation of how to get the job done, much to our irritation!
We are proud and yet profoundly humbled to know that Anan made a positive difference in the lives of so many people who crossed his path. He certainly made an impact in ours, through his quiet insistence that it is not ‘form’ but ‘content’ that matters in life.
God bless his soul!
15 February 2011.
Bala … my dearest friend
Bala meant so many things to so many people. Whatever I would say over the next few lines could never do justice to what he meant to me in so many ways. Thus, when I was asked to pen down something about Bala for this tribute, I immediately expected and knew that the task would be an overwhelming and emotionally draining one. True enough, it was.
How does one justify in a few lines about someone who had all his life, lived for others, contributed to others, served others and yet never asked nor expected anything back in return? That was Bala. When I look back, I can only consider myself to have been immensely fortunate to have met, associated, lived and learned from this great person who had such an overbearing impact on both my professional and personal life.
Bala was not merely my dearest friend. He was and will always be the older brother that I never had. Bala never really feared for anything in life but for the usual infirmities that came with old age. In his own gusty style and inspiring mannerism he imparted that fearlessness and confidence in everyone who came to be associated with him and I was one of the principal beneficiaries.
Over the entire period that I had known him, I had always lived and basked in the confidence that no matter what happens both professionally nor personally, there will always be this “Rock Fort” by the name of Bala that I could lean on for support. In all those years, I never heard Bala utter a single “No” to me nor anyone who had sought his help or advice on any matter. The remarkable thing was that, he could and did extend his help, advice as well as provide solace to everyone, irrespective of colour, creed, gender, age or religion and never expected anything back in return.
Bala was extremely articulate, so well read and well informed on almost any matter. His strength really was in his thoroughness and meticulousness in anything that he undertook. He never could nor would let any sub-standard work leave his desk. When it came to the Law, it was an indisputable fact that he was a walking encyclopaedia. So many lawyers and friends across the country and the globe benefitted from his intellect, knowledge and acumen. He left an indelible footprint wherever he went.
Bala was very uncomfortable with attention and could never ever bring himself to be in the limelight anywhere or forefront in anyplace. He always chose to remain in the background, doing excellently whatever that needed to be done and would quietly slip away having done so. In true Bala style, he slipped away so suddenly, quietly and quickly without saying any goodbye. Nonetheless, he left a lasting and enduring impression on everyone that he came to be associated with. That was the true measure of the man.
Bala was very fond of saying that everything was for a period only and that all good things must come to an end. The void that Bala has left behind both professionally as well as personally for his family and me is one that can never ever be filled.
We remain eternally in your debt. Thank you for everything, Bala.
Vengetraman Manickam, Jeyaratnam & Co
DO REMEMBER US …. COMRADE BALA
Poem by Nasir
Brutal news plunged us into remorse and devastation
We did SMS you, to let you know we were with you
At every moment in time
Urging you to be strong and fight the tide
Alas, the salvos of dreaded news ripped our hearts apart
Splattering hope into smithereens
Yet broken pieces congealed …… to echo your name
Words eluded us
For we were torn by denials, frustrations and despair
For these heartless killers snatched you away
From our loving hands
And our longing embrace
We are lost
Without your wisdom
Without your brotherly concerns
Without your calming presence
Obliging yet unflinching
The composure that melts indifference
And harkening justice
So dear Comrade Bala
We glimpsed your wry smile and sparking eyes
As you pass through the corridors of heavens and earth
Ever reassuring …. that help is at hand
Saudara, we longed to sit with you
Over a good cup of coffee
Entertaining the rolling smokes and appetizing fragrance
Pondering through the cold, misty, rolling mountains
With punctuated laughter and glistening dreams.
Please feel free to tag along
Be with us to galvanize our struggle against this unforgiving world
And do continue to whisper your concerns and wisdom
So we can fracture this decaying capitalist entity
And pioneer the uncharted vision and realize your hopeful dreams