To many, he was the father of modern journalism. To me, he was Malaysian journalism.
When I started life as a cadet reporter in The New Straits Times in 1976, he was there, bellowing and screaming his head off at us young reporters. We were scared shitless. We were awed. Pak Samad was THE man. He had our most utmost respect.
But no one hated him. Every one loved Pak Samad.
There were only a handful of people in The New Straits Times editorial that I respected - Pak Samad, Pak Dahari, P.C. Shivadas and Philip Matthews. But Pak Samad being Pak Samad - he was THE one I truly respected.
I was truly honoured to have known him. To have worked under him. To have been one of his his underlings in the annals of Malaysian journalism. He made us all better journalists and persons.
As a newspaper man, he was what most movies consider cliched but truth be told, he was that newspaper editor you see. He was larger than life. No one could replace him.
When I became a filmmaker, I was always on the look out interesting stuff to turn into movies or telemovies. I happened to come across the stageplay written by Dinsman based on Pak Samad's novella Rumah Kedai Jalan Seladang. It was a very interesting piece of writing - both the script and the original story. So when I created the TV series Teater Novel, I decided to adapt both the stageplay and the novella into a telemovie which I directed. I remember talking to Pak Samad about it and he was slightly amused that I wanted to. He had no qualms about me turning the story into a TV play.
The project was the closest that I have worked with the great man (Pak Samad). I was honoured to be one of the few filmmakers that received his blessing to turn one of his literary works into film.
(L to R)Allahyarham Tan Sri Samad, Tan Sri Prof Awang Had Salleh and blogger at the launching of the Teater Novel project in October 1994 held at the Seri Melayu Restaurant
The telemovie when completed received five nominations - Best Drama, Best Direction, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Actor. It won only one - Best Actor for Meor Hashim Manap.
I will miss him. We will surely all miss him.
To Nuraina and family, my condolences and my prayers. I share with you your loss. The nation has lost a true son, a true journalist and a true Malaysian.