Malaysia

Najib’s three beloved ‘swans’

By Boo Su-Lyn
May 31, 2010

Najib holds up the book ‘The Three Swans’. With him is the author Fawzia. — Bernama picNajib holds up the book ‘The Three Swans’. With him is the author Fawzia. — Bernama picKUALA LUMPUR, May 31 — The unknown stories of the strong women behind two illustrious former prime ministers have now emerged through a newly-published biography written by Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s cousin.

The book titled “The Three Swans” was written by retired dentist Datuk Dr Fawzia Abdullah.

It spins the life journeys of Najib’s mother Tun Rahah Mohd Noah and his aunts Tun Suhailah Mohd Noah and Datin Fakhriah Mohd Noah during the foundation of Malaysia, from their birth in British Malaya and through the following turbulent years of the Japanese Occupation and the struggle for independence.

Rahah is the wife of former Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein while her sister Suhailah was married to the third prime minister, Tun Hussein Onn. Fakhriah was married to Datuk Abdullah Ahmad, a senior member of the Johor royal court, often referred to as the “grand old gentleman of Johor”.

“It is a tribute to three rather extraordinary women who have been the pillars of the nation — exemplary wives, mothers, and grandmothers,” said Najib today at the official book launch attended by some 500 guests, most of whom were his relatives and family friends.

“This is also a partial picture of the journey of a country, its twists and turns before independence, the Japanese Occupation and the British times,” he added.

Dentist-turned-writer Fawzia described her comprehensive 320-page book illustrated with family photographs as a year-long “labour of love”.

“The only subject other than dentistry close to my heart is my family,” said Fawzia.

She expressed hope for the book to be turned into a movie one day, cheekily describing seasoned Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan playing the role of family patriarch Tan Sri Mohd Noah Omar, while Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan could play Najib chasing Indian leading lady Aishwarya Rai around a “jambu tree”.

“It will be a most interesting Bollywood movie!” she said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

In a rare public appearance, the three “swans” came on stage where Najib presented them copies of the book.

The curious title of the biography of the three important women in Najib’s family arose from Fawzia’s intuitive thought of their “beautiful silky white complexion”.

“The story of ‘The Three Swans’ is a reflection of the struggle for all Malaysian mothers,” said Najib. “It is a story of the sacrifices and inner strength of all mothers.”