Syed Hussein Alatas
(17/9/1928 – 23/1/2007)
Professor Syed Hussein Alatas was born in Bogor, Indonesia, on Monday, 17 September 1928, corresponding to 1 Rabiul Akhir 1347.
He was among several intellectuals who formed Gerakan in 1968 as an offshoot of the defunct Labour Party. Gerakan was relatively successful in the 1969 general election, where it campaigned on a platform of social justice and the reduction or elimination of Bumiputra privileges outlined by Article 153 of the Malaysian Constitution. When Gerakan joined the Alliance coalition government in 1972, Syed Hussein left to help form Pekemas (Keadilan Masyarakat Malaysia, or Social Justice Party of Malaysia), based on similar principles that Gerakan had been formed on. However, the party collapsed in 1978 due to massive defections to the Democratic Action Party (DAP).
Syed Hussein's academic career began at the Dewan Bahasa dan Pusaka publishing house, where he worked as head of the research department from 1958 onwards. He began lecturing part-time in philosophy the University of Malaya in 1960, and served as the Head of the Cultural Division at the University's Department of Malay Studies from 1963 to 1967. He served as the Head of the Department of Malay Studies in the National University of Singapore from 1967 to 1988, before quitting to form Gerakan. He returned to academia as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Malaya in 1988, before becoming a professor at the Centre for General Studies in the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in 1995. He later transferred to the Department of Anthropology and Sociology in 1997, before becoming principal research fellow at the Institute of the Malay World and Civilisation of the same university in 1999.
Syed Hussein has authored a substantial number of books, many of them on corruption.
Syed Hussein died after a fall in his home in Damansara Heights, Tuesday night 23 January 23 2007, at 9.30pm. According to his son-in-law, Datuk Danyal Balagopal Abdullah, Syed Hussein died of a heart attack. He was immediately taken to the University Malaya Medical Centre in Petaling Jaya, where he was pronounced dead. He was buried at Bukit Kiara Muslim Cemetery, Kuala Lumpur.
May Allah have mercy upon his soul.