KONFESI PREBET ADAM: “Malam Sial Untuk Adam, Membunuh, Dibunuh Atau Mampus Bunuh Diri” – A Review

Private Adam Front Cover

Even though Dubook Press publishes an English version of this book, I preferred reading it in the original Malay language. Mind you that this book is about the confession of Private Adam, who was forgotten and left to rot in his past. One can be too harsh to call focus on the wrongs he had done: taking out of his camp a fully loaded M-16 machine-gun and running amok in the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur in the 80’s. We can forget that Adam was a victim of mental illness. He had a traumatic experience that unfortunately pushed him over – past what a normal person would be able to endure. He lost control over his emotions and his actions. What he did was wrong, but this book seeks to give us the ‘context’ of that incident. 

Adam Bin Jaafar is a Penangnite, born in 1964. He is a Malaysian born in hardship and with the trauma of losing his younger sister in a horrible fire early in his years. The writer, Syahril A.Kadir, writes it in the first person narrative, and faithfully sets the reader as the invisible audience to an old man’s recollection of his past. You could almost imagine sitting with Syahril as he interviews Adam, hearing the pauses, the shame and the tears of this retired soldier. 

This simple book sets out in chronology the events that lead to Malaysia’s horrible shoot-out in its main city of Kuala Lumpur and the aftermath for the man who lost his mind. As a short digression, I can actually remember the events as a small boy of 8 (Primary Two) because of the news coverage given on TV and on newspaper! I knew something had happened in Kuala Lumpur but was not sure what it was.

Honestly, this is a depressing look at the reality of life in Malaysia; 30+ years and not much has changed. There are certainly many talking points from this book. The army ragging described is one such controversy. It is a tradition that does not seem to die, even though it has been made illegal within the military system. Just a few months before reading this book, I actually met a soldier-in-training from (***hidden for privacy sake***) who actually faced similar ragging – which was so severe that the case was brought up to the higher-ups. My high school friends who attended a ‘military-type’ school also shared similar experiences. This is a form of ‘bullying’. Many excuse such form of bullying as a type of ‘initiation’ or ‘toughening’ activity. Frankly, these are poor excuses that are put forth by sick characters who enjoy perverted pleasure in the hurt and pain of others.

The other thing that truly pained me in reading is Adam’s ‘recovery’. One would argue that he did not recover because he ended up a drug-user and homeless. This 50+ year old man looks older than his age, weak and without much hope for the future. He lost everything that he had, and he remains lost. Our healthcare did not help him; in fact, one could argue that it made his condition worse!

I would commend all to read, especially those who are maturing and need a healthy dose of reality in their life. Be mindful that there are ‘adult words and subject matter’ that are discussed. The bullying received is graphically described. Be warned. But we must not just read and enjoy the ‘confession’. There is much to discuss for us in the 21st century Malaysia Baru. I wish Private Adam bin Jaafar well, and hope through this little contribution he has made, his life is slowly steering to the right path.

The book can be obtained from https://dubookpress.com/produk/konfesi-prebet-adam/ at the price of RM30. I think they have gone through a few printing editions since the cover is different from mine.

Private Adam Back Cover

Be Brave as Firemen

Picture from The Star, https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/10/04/adnan-was-a-filial-son-says-father-of-drowned-bomba-diver/

In the 9pm tragedy on Wednesday (Oct 3), all six personnel, who were part of the rescue diving unit, were dragged away by strong currents.

My older son asked me, “What happened?” He pointed to the mournful music played over the 8 pm news report covering the funeral of the six brave young firemen who died in a tragic incident on Wednesday, 3rd October.

“Six firemen died while attempting to rescue a teenager.”

“Why did they go if they could die?” His face a sad expression. 

“That is what brave men do, son. They do what is right, not what is safe.”

He paused for a while, a thoughtful look upon him before my wife called him for his evening bath. 

It is the greatest loss for our brave firemen. I think up to this point, very few would appreciate the dedication and courage that is demanded of our firemen. They do not only rescue victims trapped in wreckages, but they also capture wild beasts and reptiles, wrestle with savage fires and brave hazardous environments for the single soul, even though there might be a low probability of success. 

I am glad that at this time, especially in my sons formative years, I can point to them the meaning of bravery and courage from around us. The word is so easily misused and tainted by the political mud-slinging that happens often in our part of the world, but true courage is usually seen in action. May we learn to be courageous in doing what is right, and not what is convenient.