Saturday, 15 December 2012

Tan Sri Datuk Professor Ahmad Ibrahim

AIKOL stands for Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws

What's that? That was my question when I first saw the acronym. I went to visit UIAM (Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia) Gombak campus for the first time. I had visited my mother's grave in Selayang earlier and had nothing to do before check-in at Hotel Putra KL in front of IJN, Jalan Tun Razak.

My husband and I were the only two visitors to AIKOL that morning. We passed through Sg Pusu and then came to the campus front entrance. It did look like Disneyland to me. I was happy that I was in "Disneyland", with castle and unpainted buildings. Not knowing the layout of the campus, we drove down the periphery road and landed at the bus depot/parking lot just before the stadium. We had passed the AIKOL roadsign and it was a one-way road (no turning back). We set out on foot back to where I spotted the AIKOL roadsign when we went past it.

We went downhill and explored the parking lot first, trying to get a good clear view of the signage high on the roof that says "Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws". We noticed each parking lot also bore his name on the parking lot signage. Here, every lecturer has a designated parking lot.

We walked and entered the building and reached the first courtyard where there were trees and tiny doors. We went to the next courtyard and there were more trees and the building formed a U-shape formation that opened towards the hills far away.

Then we went upstairs, past the AIKOL shop and reached second floor. The faculty main door says "Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws Administration Office". I went round to the back door which was opened and it says the same "Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws". So this must be the right place I thought. Then we went to the front (not knowing the front earlier) and I took some photos there. I discovered the dean's parking lot and saw the same words high up on the front facade of the AIKOL building. I climbed up the slope in front to get a good view and almost fell backwards on the road behind me. But it was worth it trying to get a good photo of AIKOL facade with the name.

Then we went to visit the graveyard in Sg Pusu. My husband called a man named Ujang and he informed us about the location of the grave for Prof Ahmad bin Mohamed Ibrahim. He said it was a "kayu cengkal" frame. There was only one that was made of teak. I guess this is it.

Dr Mohamed Ibrahim was an early Malay doctor in Singapore. In my research on The Early Malay Doctors, he turns out to be the first Malay doctor in Singapore. The other doctor at that time was Dr HS Moonshi who was born in Surat, India and came to live and study in Singapore. Both doctors graduated in 1916, Dr HS Moonshi graduated earlier than Dr Mohamed Ibrahim. They were close friends, so the families told me. 

Who was Prof Ahmad bin Mohamed Ibrahim?

Prof Ahmad was the elder son of Dr Mohamed Ibrahim. He was a lawyer for Natrah in the Natrah incidence that occurred in Singapore on 12-13 December 1950. Prof Ahmad was Singapore's first Attorney-General after Singapore separated from Malaysia in 1965. He was Singapore's Ambassador to Egypt before he resigned and came to live in Malaysia. Prof Ahmad served at Universiti Malaya before joining UIAM when it was built during deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim's time. He headed the law faculty as dean, a faculty that was named in his honour and now popularly known by its acronym AIKOL.

I knew about him back in 1997 when I was looking for a university to hop to. I had obtained the faculty application form to join UIAM but there were a few questions that held me back. They were questions on faith and honesty. It asked what is the one book that you read that changed your life? I knew nobody who would ever ask such a question to any prospective faculty member. That question set me thinking and for which I had to read up on Islam before I could try to answer. I never answered that question. And that was why I did not leave USM to join UIAM in 1997-1999. And I never met the person who created that question, whom I strongly believe could have been him. I still have the form with me and a portrait of me stuck to the application form.

The great man has gone but his legend lives on in those who knew him. I met with Dato Abdul Mutalib when he came to pick up my 2 books at Hotel Putra KL on 15 December 2012. We were talking about his new upcoming book and what I can possibly contribute when the topic changed to remembering the great men in our history. I asked him whether he knew Prof Ahmad and he instantly replied yes. In the Malay socio-historical context, when someone is remembered long after he is deceased, he is regarded as one who has done many good deeds for his people and community. So someone remembering Prof Ahmad 13 years after his demise goes to show how significant his contributions were to our lives and status as Malays and upholding Muslim rights, both in Singapore and Malaysia today. I can't think of any other great men who contributed as much as he did to our education and yet upholding Islam. So in this respect, he was very special. That's how I look at men who made our history.

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