Let’s put out the fire of hatred Adib died in

William Cheah

Who was this young man, whose death affects us so?

Before this, apart from his friends, colleagues and family, none of us knew his name or even his existence. And yet, today, his death brings his name to nearly every Malaysian’s lips, eyes and ears.

Why all this grief, angst, anger and slowly growing…hatred?


Because his death was unnecessary. Because he was just doing his job. Because some people dropped the ball. Because some people just lost their minds. But whatever it is and who to blame, and there is much to go around, the fact is a young man died. This however isn’t what I want to talk about.

I want to talk about you and me. And a young man called Muhammad Adib.

He was a firefighter. Dedicated to saving lives. Running into fires while everyone runs away. And he lost his life to a fire. But not the kind of fire you would expect.

He lost his life to a fire created by criminal acts, fanned by unwise words and hidden agendas. He died in a fire of hatred and anger made up of a cocktail of racism, politics, religious bigotry and maybe a moment of madness and irresponsibility.

It wasn’t a normal fire as what we know of. But it was a fire nonetheless. And he paid the ultimate price in the line of duty fighting a fire he wasn’t trained to fight nor could have expected.

I understand the grief and anger many of us feel right now. I feel it too. But I also know that this anger and grief can lead us towards creating the same kind of fire that killed this young man. Is this what we want? Would this be his legacy? Is this how we want to honour his sacrifice?

I won’t ask anyone to do anything except to think about this. About how we react and cope and how we move forward so that another needless death will never occur again. Or at the least, for us all to try prevent that.

His name is Muhammad Adib. He was a firefighter. He died in a fire we can all help put out. We owe at least that to him so that the fire that killed him doesn’t win.

This is how we honour him.

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I personally think one important lesson we learnt is that some “politicians” need to realise how words can kill. And they must know that they are responsible and accountable for every syllable that passes their lips. And oh yes… they too need to pay the price. We cannot afford another case of someone screwing up where it’s fatal to screw up.

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