PETALING JAYA: Historian, Emeritus Professor Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim, who was part of the team that drafted the Rukun Negara, passed away today after a short illness at University Malaya Medical Centre. He was 82.
The family, in a short message confirming his death, said: “It is with the deepest sadness that we inform of the passing of our much-loved husband and father. He passed, as he had always lived, with the greatest dignity.”
Khoo leaves behind wife, Puan Sri Rathi Khoo and three children, Eddin, Rubin and Mavin.
His son, Rubin, 47, said his father had undergone by-pass surgery in October and his health had deteriorated after that.
“Despite his poor health, he persevered until the end”, he added.
His remains were taken to the Nirvana Memorial Park in Sungai Besi, where it will be until the funeral at 10am on Saturday. Memorial service will be held from Thursday until Saturday.
Following news of his death, messages of tribute and condolence flooded social media.
Many described his passing as a huge loss to the country that would be greatly felt.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s (UKM) Prof Datuk Dr Teo Kok Seong said Khoo had always put Malaysian nationalism above anything else, despite sometimes drawing criticism from the Chinese community.
“It made him unpopular among the Chinese but he always spoke the truth based on history, looked at things from a Malaysian perspective,“ he told theSun today.
Khoo had served at the Universiti Malaya’s history department for over 50 years and had taught many prominent Malaysians. He was honoured with the title “Emiritus Professor” in 2011.
He published his autobiography in 2017 titled “I, KKK - The Autobiography of a Historian” where he talks about his earliest memories growing up in pre-independence Malaya. The book was dedicated to Malaysians, particularly the youth, for them to have insights about the country.
Prof Teo said Khoo’s knowledge of Malaysian history was something that would be sorely missed, noting how the latter would often make comments on current and past issues with insights that “only he could have”.
Leading the chorus of heartfelt messages on social media, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail described Khoo as an exemplary figure who had always portrayed how to be the best Malaysian.
Former premier Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said the latter was a great historian and a true Malaysian and would always be remembered for his contributions, particularly for his part in drafting the Rukun Negara.
“He also had a strong interest in football with valuable insights on the development of our national team. He will be missed. May his soul rest in peace,“ he posted on Twitter.
PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim similarly said Khoo’s sacrifices and contributions to the nation would never be forgotten by the rakyat.
Several other Cabinet ministers and political leaders, including Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Mohamad Sabu and Dr Xavier Jayakumar also paid tribute to Khoo.