Heart and Soul: The man with the big voice

  • People
  • Thursday, 18 May 2023

Samson had his first audience with Pope John Paul II in 1993. — NEUBERT AMBROSE

When I was a young boy growing up in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur, and attending St Joseph's Church, the name E. Samson was a familiar name. It was synonymous with audiovisual media, broadcasting, music and stage plays.

Samson had his humble beginnings in Sentul and spent a great deal of time in the church’s youth activities. It was the start of a great plan God had for him in the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur that would span more than 50 years.

Samson was a radio broadcaster and news presenter both on radio and television from the late 1960s. He also acted in plays, both stage and on radio, with his group The Blue Heavens alongside the late Bosco D’Cruz.

It was a long journey which began in 1967 from an audio visual room at St Joseph’s parish house, moved on to Cardijn House (Jalan Bukit Nanas) to a building in the vicinity of St Anthony’s Church. Finally, on Nov 22, 1997, the dream of this humble man – who had dedicated his life to social communications – came true when the fully equipped Cahayasuara Communications Centre (CCC) materialised.

Samson was the director of CCC.

In 1987, he was named president of the International Catholic Organisation for Cinema and Audiovisuals (OCIC) Asia, and in 1990 was made its world vice-president.

He was also involved in the Peninsular Malaysia Pastoral Team and was instrumental in the gathering of Catholic media professionals from the secular media.

He initiated the Churches Initiative for Social Communication (Ciscom), an ecumenical organisation. He was also instrumental in forming the Archdiocesan Peninsular Malaysia Social Communications Commission and the Regional Commission for Social Communications (Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei).

He was invited to be a member of the Asian Communication Training Team under the banner of OCIC/UNDA Asia which was responsible for the formation for bishops, clergy, religious and laity in Pakistan, Myanmar and other Asian countries.

Despite the many high-profile positions he held, Sam never blew his own trumpet and always preferred to stay out of the limelight.

After Vatican Council II, Sam transcribed the lyrics of songs from open reel to written form for the masses. He was also involved in Tamil liturgical music.

Sam was well-known on an international scale, meeting foreign delegates. He was also blessed to have had an audience with Pope John Paul II twice – in 1993, and again in 2001 with his wife Esther.

After his retirement, Sam decided to write the life story of Malaysia's first cardinal, Anthony Soter Fernandez, with whom he had a close relationship. He began writing and interviewing many people. It was an arduous task that took months of contacting people throughout the country.

With an editorial team to assist him, Samson went on to write the cardinal’s story. In Sam’s own words: ”Cardinal’s story must be told.”

Getting photos, verifying facts and incidents, Sam did it all with utmost passion and love for his cardinal.

Permissions had to be sought from various organisations, even from the Vatican, to use photos and information for the book.

During this time, he called me every day to check on the progress as it was in the final stages.

After more than two years and several setbacks, the book The Cardinal was finally completed.

He always had some project to work on, be it for God or his family. He always had some idea going on in his head to do something. He was good at gardening and a master at carpentry.

Samson was dedicated to his family, visiting his late mum and his siblings regularly.

His love for his wife, children and grandchildren knew no bounds.

He was a doting grandfather. Several weeks ago, before he was hospitalised, he was still working on a project for one of his grandchildren.

He did everything a loving and responsible husband, father, grandfather, uncle and elder sibling would do. He played his role as the patriarch of the family.

Sam had several ailments which he accepted and endured patiently. He succumbed to his illness so quickly on the evening of April 17, 2023, at the age of 77.

His booming voice still rings in my ear. What a superb voice he had, unmatched by many. He was a mentor and an inspiration to me and many MCs and voice-industry aspirants.

He has left behind a legacy. Without his foresight, commitment and patient endurance, much of the archdiocese’s historical documentation would not have been made possible.

E. Samson gave his all for his God and family.

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