AS EDITOR of her mother’s book, Sharizan Shafee had to stop reading every now and then because she would cry as she read about her father’s childhood.
The book The Shafee Yahaya Story, Estate Boy to ACA Chief chronicles the life of former Anti-Corruption Agency director-general Datuk Shafee Yahaya.
The book’s author, Datin Kalsom Taib, said: “I’ve been married to him for 43 years yet I didn’t know certain things about his family. So writing this book was a journey of discovery for me.”
“I knew that his mother was Chinese and his father was from the estate but when I started to do my research, it was a real revelation.
“I’m a town girl so I learned about the rubber estate, the padi fields and what life was like back then. My children have never lived in an estate and didn’t know the hardship that their father went through. That’s why my daughter cried when she read it,” Kalsom said during the launch of the book by Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah recently.
Kalsom had previously written two biographies on her father, the late Tan Sri Taib Andak in 2008 and her mother Zainab Ahmad in 2009.
She traced Shafee’s mother’s roots all the way back to Tanjung Berembang in Penang.
“He was only six years old when his mother died at the age of 33. He was too young to remember and it didn’t bother him. All this was a discovery for him, too,” she said.
Kalsom said she initially had to persuade her husband to let her write the book.
“When I suggested to him that I wanted to write his biography, he was not keen at all as he is a very private person. He does not like publicity and prefers to keep a low profile,” she said.
Kalsom disagreed with him on this as she felt that he had led a life worth recording and that he had much to share.
“Normally books are written about those who have made it big, but not many about a normal civil servant,” she said.
Shafee grew up in Caledonia Estate, Seberang Perai, and went on to join the civil service first as an assistant district officer in Kuala Langat and then as private secretary to the second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein for six years.
This was followed by 15 years in the National Security Council, stints in the National Housing Department and the Public Services Department before being appointed ACA director-general in 1994,
Shafee was thrown into the limelight when he testified in court in 2000 during the Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim-Sukma Darmawan Sasmitaat Madja trial.
Kalsom said she was glad to have documented the story of her husband for posterity.
“Readers will get to see a side of Shafee that is not known to many outside his close circle of family and friends, as a loving son, husband and father; a dedicated and committed civil servant and above all, a humble and conscientious Muslim.
“If, after reading this book, readers are able to gain such an insight of my husband and friend, then I would feel truly blessed and my labour of love has not been in vain,” she said.