To get to know a person, you will need to get behind the headlines; you will have to see the real person behind the headlines.
I had the privilege to know Tian Chua these past 15 years. I have seen him at close quarters, through thick and thin. He had shed heart-breaking tears on my shoulder.
His concern is international as well as national.
Because he lost a good friend who demonstrated for the freedom of the East Timorese during their student days, he took a special interest in the East Timorese cause. He spent time in my home in Dili.
Tian is not a professional demonstrator although this may seem to be the case to people who only know about him through newspaper reports.
He spends more time on his feet to solve the personal problems of individuals than demonstrating against injustice.
He is not doing the one without the other.
He makes time for those who have been deprived of care or justice.
If you have Tian as your neighbour, he will respond to your knocks at his door, tak kira masa atau waktu (irrespective of time or convenience).
He is the kind of person who will send you to the hospital or help you make a police report.
He works very hard. He does not spare his body from wear and tear - the kind of person who is on his feet for many hours.
He takes people's plight seriously - individually or collectively.
He makes time for those whom he sees as being deprived of their just rights.
Just before the campaign had started for the recent general election, he drove several hours to join the press conference of house-buyers who lost the low-cost houses they had purchased in Gemas.
He is a very practical man. You don't get mere diatribes or ivory tower talk from Tian.
He thinks practically. He does things, he gets things done. Tian is no armchair critic.
Yes, he is a "rebel", but with a cause, or causes. Certain principles and values govern this man.
Yes, at times his courage does seem to rise above his own self and he has even sat on the ground in the path of a water-cannon truck.
But he is non-violent and definitely not anti-law-enforcers.
You will be surprised by how many police personnel who had been able to strike up a friendly conversation with him and him with them.
He bears no grudge to those sent to get him despite his fight at times to be freed from their strong arms.
There is no trace of racism in Tian. You can never say he is anti-anybody because of race or religion.
He is no chauvinist, pro this race or anti that race.
If you see him in the mosque, he will bow in prayer, holding his hands up.
He speaks three languages fluently. The causes he fights for have been irrespective of race.
He is certainly no disrespecter of the law. He passionately subscribes to the Rule of Law, though not necessarily to the rule by law.
He is no anarchist. He is not lawless. He is no ruffian.
There is a gentle side of Tian which will surprise many if they get to know him. He is no egoist. He isn't dreaming for position or personal ambition.
He is not working towards ruining or destroying his nation.
He is no enemy of the people. He is never an advocate for war against any people.
Agree with him or not, get to know Tian Chua better and like me you will see a patriot; who has done more for his country than most of us.
He is working towards and for a better Malaysia.
I pray to God Almighty for his safety in these uncertain days for him.