Friday, June 15, 2012

Helmy Samad On A Samad Said

The story appeared in the sun newspaper in conjunction with father's day. I highlighted the story of writer cum publisher  Helmy Samad talks about his father National Laureate A Samad Said. The story published on Monday June 25, 2012 

Headline : On being the son of a living legend

WRITER-publisher Helmy Samad can talk to his father about anything – including his love life.That's how he describes his relationship with his father, National Laureate A. Samad Said.

"He knew who all my girlfriends were," adds Helmy, the second of five children in the family.

Last year, when his marriage was on the rocks, Helmy instinctively turned to his 77-year-old father for advice. "My dad only said one thing to me: 'Jadi anak jantan (be a man)'," he recalls. 

Now, at 48, Helmy is a single parent to two boys – Muhamad Firdaus, 23, who is pursuing a Master's degree in Mass Communications, and five-year-old Ali.

"My eldest son and my father have different ideologies and they can debate for hours," Helmy says. 
"But my father doesn't mind the difference of opinions between them. He feel it's better for his grandson to have a stand in life than to have none at all."      
One virtue that Helmy's father taught him is kindness and now he is instilling this value in his sons.
"These days, people believe that kindness is a mark of a loser," says Helmy. "But some of the greatest people in history displayed kindness and one of them was Mahatma Gandhi."
"It's not easy to be kind," he adds. 
Helmy also points out that his father never scolded his children in public.Recalling an incident which occurred in his childhood, Helmy says his neighbour had caught him smoking with his friends. When the neighbour complained about it to his dad, Samad had said: "So what?"
"My neighbour went away feeling embarrassed but I got a two-hour lecture from my dad. The point was that he didn't want to embarrass me in front of the neighbour."
When he and his siblings were young, his father also instilled in them a love for the arts by encouraging them to draw and paint.
"If he liked one of our paintings, he would buy it at 50 sen or so. That reward created some kind of excitement in us and also healthy competition between me and my siblings."
Ten years ago, Helmy gave up his lucrative career as a computer programmer to follow in his eminent father's footsteps. He became a writer. 
"My father discouraged me [from becoming a writer] and he kept telling me that a writer's life is a hard life," he says. 
"But at the same time, he gave me books to read to broaden my horizon."  
When some of his short stories were published, there were some critics who began to compare his writings with that of his father's.
Helmy became frustrated at one point and even quit writing for a while.
"I was just starting out as a writer and to make that kind of comparison was unfair," he says. "I believe my writing style is different from my father's."
But his dad advised him to continue writing. "He told me that it's only natural that people will compare me to him and with other writers."   
Last year, Helmy finally went back to writing and even started a publishing company, Wira Bukit Sdn Bhd, which mainly publishes his father's books.
"But my father and I are lousy businessmen," he says, laughing.
"We like giving away books because we want to encourage reading among Malaysians. But then giving them away for free is not good for business."
To date, Helmy has written three novels which have yet to be published.  
"I'm more mature now to handle any comparisons that critics may make between my literary works and my father's," he says.  
Of late, his dad had been making headlines for taking part in the recent Bersih 3.0 protests and some quarters had even accused him of creating trouble in the country.
Helmy begs to differ, saying: "Like all peace-loving citizens, my dad was merely pressing for fair elections and seeking an end to corruption.
"My father has always fought against injustice. If he sees something is wrong, he would speak out."  
Although Helmy admires his father's courage, he fears for his safety.
"My father lives a simple life and moves around freely ... it's easy for someone to harm him. I've voiced out my concerns but dad says life and death is in God's hands." 


  1. salam...

    im nurul nadia and one of the student from uitm s.alam...i've been assigned one assigment about 'my idol'.. im interested to research about Dato A.Samad Said... one of the famous poet in our country.. kindly,could you plz help me to give all about him??