The Tok Guru I knew

came to know the late Tuan Guru or Tok Guru Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat in 1997.

Mar 20, 2015

By Jerome Fernandez
I came to know the late Tuan Guru or Tok Guru Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat in 1997. The National Union of the Teaching Profession’s 14th Delegates Conference was to be held in Kota Baru and I as the Secretary of the NUTP Kelantan Branch had to write a letter to the Kelantan Menteri Besar (MB) requesting a dinner from the State government to felicitate the delegates.

I received a positive reply within three days and a day later an official from the MB’s office came to see me and said that the MB wanted to know the ethnic distribution of the delegates.

I thought it as a bit odd. Nevertheless I gave the list to him. The dinner was held at the official residence of the MB and he sent a senior exco member to represent him and tendered his apologies for not being able to attend.

The food served had the unmistakeable Indian flavour and there was no beef in the menu although there were a substantial number of Malay delegates at the dinner.

Now I knew why he wanted the list. There were a large number of Hindus in attendance.

Tuan Guru has 10 children. One of his sons was staying opposite my house. He was a supervisor in a plantation near Gua Musang.

He leaves early in the morning on his motor cycle to reach his place of work and returns late in the evening.

I used to poke fun at him saying that he must be the poorest among all the children of menteris besar.

“Having a mentri besar as the father could have opened many doors for you to get a better job,” I quipped.

“That’s what everyone thinks. I dare not even suggest this to my father. I might get a slap for suggesting anything close to this!”

Once I had to accompany the then Bishop of Penang, the Most Reverend Soter Fernandez to meet the menteri besar.

Tuan Guru among other things mentioned about his visit to Bosnia and commented how sad he was witnessing religious conflict there.

“This should never happen at all,” he sighed.

On our way back Bishop Soter said that being the Bishop of the Penang Diocese, he also meets other menteris besar and chief minister, but he had never met such a simple and down-to-earth person as Tuan Guru.

“After visiting the other menteris besar, I find this man to be exceptionally different and even his office room is so bare, unlike the opulence I see in similar offices.”

The Fatima Catholic Church is situated opposite the menteri besar’s office, Kota Darulnaim, Kota Baru.

Anyone driving to the menteri Besar’s office will not miss the church and vice versa.

One day the parish priest received a morning call from the menteri besar’s office.

The official said Tuan Guru had noticed that the cross on top of the church was missing.

“This must be the work of some vandals,” he said.

However the parish priest said that in actual fact there was no vandalism. There was a storm the previous night and the cross had fallen off the steeple.

The official then consulted with Tuan Guru and the following response was heart-warming.

“The menteri besar wants the church to replace the cross and the bill for the replacement to be sent to the menteri besar’s office for payment. The menteri besar feels that as head of the government he is responsible for what had happened,” said the official.

Kuala Krai has the only chapel in Kelantan. It was once a bungalow owned by a doctor who had since migrated.

There were about eight families attending service once a week with the priest coming from Kota Baru.

The building was in poor condition and we had to repair it if we wanted to avoid the roof falling on our heads during service.

As chairman of the parish committee, I wrote to the local council seeking approval for repairs and renovation.

The application was rejected thrice.

Taking courage, I went to see Tuan Guru.

After listening to me he asked: “Who rejected your application?”

“The secretary of the local council,” I replied.

“Do you know his name?” he asked.

“I know his first name, not his full name,” I murmured.

“A good Muslim will not hinder others from building their houses of worship”

“I am sorry for what had happened. Don’t worry you will get a letter from him within this week allowing you to repair your chapel.”

As I thanked him, he invited me to see him should there be any other problems. “But don’t come on a Saturday,” he added.

“What is special about Saturday?” I said.

“On Saturdays, many people from the kampungs will come to see me.

Children entering universities, those getting married, those going on the haj. They all come to seek my blessings.”

As I took leave, he called me back and asked, “Do you have enough money to repair your chapel?”

“I think what we have is enough, Tuan Guru,” I replied.

“I have a special fund to help Non –Muslim houses of worship. It is yours. I can give some money from that fund”.

“If we need, I will come back to you. For the moment, I have your blessings! Thank you.”

As I mourn together with thousands if not millions of others who have been touched by this man, my tribute to Tok Guru is simply this: “With your simplicity you endeared yourself to everyone. You walked the talk. I am blessed to have met you. When the history of this nation is re-written people will remember you and say: ‘This was a Great Man’. ”

SOURCE: The Malaysian Insider

--Former headmaster Jerome Fernandez is project co-ordinator for Education International. He has called Kelantan home for 50 years.

Total Comments:15

Datuk Haji Abu Bakkar Sha[email protected]
I was the President of Nutp then ; did mention appreciating Aruah Tuan Guru for his hospitality!!!. Minister of Education & senior official of the Ministry turned down our invitation to officially declare our Meeting. Finally manage to get Datuk Abdul RASHID ; A Kelantanis to declare the opening of our Conference
Mohamed Rafik Khan b Kade
I was posted to Kota Bahru in 1955.Taught in SIC later as HM of Hamzah school Machang. Kelantan had many caring persons.They were like Tok Guru I wander if it is still the same.
Eric C Manuel[email protected]
Goodness come from within. We have heard and read of Tok Guru. How we wish to live along in harmony with some real men like Tok Guru. The nation has become sick with racist and corrupt men who have destroyed a very beautiful nation.
Abas Ali Sher Mohamad[email protected]
People the likes of Jerome Fernandez are not born great but achieve greatness.
Sharmini Bala[email protected]
Great sir, Im so proud to b a kelantanies. Thanks again sir for write this articles. Tok Guru such a wonderful n great soul Who serve people equqlly. Let everyone know bout him….
C.NN.Sivaraman[email protected]
A very fine tribute and a very touching article written by Bro.Jerome Fernandez.I can still remember the occasion where I was present as a delegate representing the KPPK of Melaka State.Tok Guru was a superb human being.May his good soul rest in peace with the Almighty.Om Shanthi.
Mildred Lopez[email protected]
Thank you Jerome for writing this article.Clearly the world is better that one such as Tuan Guru lived.He showed what it is to be a true human being made in the image of God with the divine within shinning through.May his life plant the seeds of many more like him to rise.
Benedict Morais[email protected]
This tribute to Tuan Tok Guru, the former Chief Minister of Kelantan is well deserved. I did not know him personally but from all accounts that I have heard he comes across as a man of great faith and a man who understands what it is to live in a multi racial Malaysia. We need more individuals of his caliber and stature in Malaysia.
Kanaswaran Kanagaratnam [email protected]
He was a great gentleman who actually served the people
Very touching. Please compare with todays Religous Gurus!
Stanley Madhavan[email protected]
He was a great man.
Well written article on reality of life and wisdom of true in understanding sprituality and value of mankind on humanity.
Kuldip Singh s/o Durbara [email protected]
My late father was a teacher in Kota Bharu from 1951 to 1955 and headmaster of the first "stand alone" Government English Primary School in Kelantan from January 1956 to December 1970 before asking for a transfer back to his homestate Kedah. He loved every minute of his 19 years in Kelantan. Tq Mr Jerome Fernandes for writing. Kuldip Singh s/o Durbara Singh Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. Tue. 8 Dec. 2020.
An exemplary leader.
Muhammad Radha Nair Abdul[email protected]
Tok Guru Dato Nik Aziz Nik Mat,is irreplaceable.This gem of a person was liked by all Malaysians ,rich or poor, and no matter what religion.I pray more Malays of such stature speak up.We want a peaceful Malaysia not manipulated by politicians.