Tan Sri Ibrahim bin Mohammad died yesterday, age 68, of massive cerebral thrombosis [ stroke ]. A colourful figure , flamboyant to his last, lawyer-economist, philanthropist par excellence, entreprenuer and above all, a great friend.
Our path coindentally crossed sometime in the mid eighties. An unlikely combination: Still very much 'high flying', 'corporate surgeon', beyond his peak, and on his way down, and a young 'plumber', definitely on his way up.That meeting was not coincidental. It was iron casted in Loth Mahfuz many milenium years back, before time, beyond our very limited comprehension. The chemistry however clicked and last
We happened to share the same love. The 'Haram'. We spent many happy years of'umrah' together, whispering sweet nothings unto "The Beloved". Hope for atonement, sharing of deep inner secrets, only The One and Only is privy, and asking for mercy and Barakah in the next world.
It was not all 'holy' and straight forward. In between the sobs and tears at the Maqam Ibrahim and the late night tahajud and istikharah in the 'Haram', we, being 'boys at heart' also pry the high street of Jeddah together just enjoying the Lord's gift to mankind, looking at beautiful rich women of leisure from Iran, Lebanon and Syria in their sensuous 'abaya', passing. Sometime you can see , sometime you don't...[ My God! Sensuality is in the mystery. This, the rather 'agressive and free' ladies of the West, and increasingly, now even the East, cannot totally comprehend! ].
Life is indeed full of incongruities and contraditions.These I shared with Tan Sri Ibrahim.Both of us, are able to look at life as a very private 'love affair' with The Beloved, so to speak....The pain, the gain, the fear and trepidition, the anguish and the happiness are just sides of the same coin... "We try you with evil and with good, for ordeal. And unto Us ye will be returned."[ I will venture to write about the nature of happiness in my next blog...insyaallah ]
He was a good teacher to me on how to live life to the 'fullest'. One can dream of sufi thoughts and convictions and grand religious plan and vision, but caviar and fine arabians , and turbo charged 'horses' and the excellent things in life are not haram!...I keep telling my elder brother, Hasan, who thought and vocalise that extravagance, as exhibited by the likes of people like Tan Sri, is sinful.... that we cannot judge man superficially. If one has 200 million in the bank, do not expect him to behave and think like 'you ' and 'me'. We do not know what goes on in a millionaire's mind. We are not privy to the generous donation he makes annually. We are not privy to his anguish and fear....At the end of the day,Islam is about excellence. Excellence in the Here and the Hereafter..and we are not the judge.
Ibrahim probably made his 1st million in Pahang. Went on to make more millions with his association with Genting. When you are young and very vital perhaps 'the end justifies all means'. But life, like golf, is not about how one start the game. It it about how one ends the game. I suspected, but never pry, that those many years of whispering 'sweet nothings' with me at Maqam Ibrahim, rain or shine, in front of the Kaaba, probably has to do with the atonement for his early days at 'Genting'. Friends just need to understand, we dont need to ask the inner sanctum of one's secret fear and love. That way, mystery further mystifies.
Hicom [ Heavy Industry Incorporated of Malaysia ], Proton and Langkawi seem to be Dr M's legacy to Malaysia.Ibrahim in his heydays was Dr M 1st private tutor, giving him free advice on corporate matters.Every Friday afternoon in the late seventies, is tutorial time. No one was allowed to clutter the lobby at PM's office to ask for favour or to send up any brown envelope for numero uno's perusal.Friday after prayer was reserved for Ibrahim! This went on for several years to the chagrin an envy of the likes of Musa Hitam and other senior cabinet members who seemed to be sidelined for lack of ideas. Much later, ADZ and all his 'wet in between' the ears assistants and cronies matured, and in due time took over the role. With politicians,friends and foes are transient. Interest is permanent.
Yes, Dr M must have been one of our greatest PM so far with respect to ideas and vision. I am not surprised. He got an excellent tutor in Ibrahim...... until the 'rot sets in'.
Promet Building, a definitive KL landmark and 'one of its kind' in the early 80's was the nerve centre from which this debonair maverick planned and execute his many 'corporate surgeries'.However, his star began to wean and slowed down when two of his best pals, Dr M and Razaleight Hamzah were at loggerhead with each other. Such is the reality of big business in Malaysia, then and now. Political patronage is the sine qua non of business ,big and small. When we are going to be able to grow out of this , I do not know?
It was also Langkawi that perhaps signaled Ibrahim's Promet Bhd fast decline. Millions invested sinking in the white sand, Development and crowd was slow to come.Free port status was even slower to come by. Promet share plummeted.Great friends parted further, caught by the inevitable quigmire of Malaysian political scene.
" I once advice 'Number One', the virtue of not having his children actually involved in big business, but that advice fell on deaf ears"......
The rest was history.The MISC bailout was a testimony of good advice ,not taken.
History can be very harsh for ex prime ministers and former leaders, but for my good friend Ibrahim, at least I know he had done well,
Good bye my friend.
May your soul be amongst those whom 'He' blessed.
" Every soul must taste of death, and We try you with evil and with good, for ordeal. And unto Us ye will be returned. "
Surah Al Anbiya [ The Prophets ], 21 : 35
"Lo! verily unto Allah belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and the earth. He knoweth your condition. And (He knoweth) the Day when they are returned unto Him so that He may inform them of what they did. Allah is Knower of all things."
Surah Al Nur , 24 : 64
Dr Nik Howk