COMMENT | It was pointed out to me recently that I had an obsession with obituaries. I can’t deny it – I suppose it began when I was a child and my late grandmother would have me read them out from the papers to see if there was anyone she recognised.
Certainly, I do think it’s important to put a historical context to one’s life and as such an obituary might be one of the most significant and final full-stops in any person’s life. That’s probably why I’ve spent part of the last couple of months reading every tagged obituary in Malaysiakini’s archives by the way.
At the same time, I can’t help noticing that many obituaries are rose-tinted and glossed over unsavoury aspects of an individuals’ legacy.
I suppose while Robert Mugabe or the convicted murderer/former Umno minister Mokhtar Hashim couldn’t escape mention of their sins, by and large, obituaries are glowing affairs, particularly if it features a local persona.
Someone such as Lim Kok Wing is feted for his achievements instead of having certain controversies highlighted – and fair enough, I suppose.
“Don’t speak ill of the dead,” goes the saying, and I agree to some extent – I would not want to intrude on the grief of family members at such a time.
But at the same time, does this principle mean that there is to be no critical assessment of the legacies of important figures? How can we learn if...