ASTRO AWANI interviewed me

ABDUL RAHMAN ZAFRUDIN @ KO KO GYI
Doctor. Burmese, 66 years old. Migrated from Myanmar 30 years ago.

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IN Burmese, my name means brother. As I am the eldest brother, I was given that name.

I first came to Malaysia in January 1986 and started working as a doctor. Prior to that, I was also a doctor in Myanmar for 10 years. I have lived here in Malaysia for almost half of my life; and throughout my life here, I have been a doctor.

BACK in Myanmar, I was notorious for being a human rights activist mostly fighting for equal rights for Muslims over there, such as the Rohingyas.

I decided to migrate to Malaysia when I got fed-up with my previous job and resigned. Soon after, I saw a video of a few Burmese doctors working with the Muslim Welfare Organisation Malaysia (PERKIM). This sparked interest for me, as at that time, not many Burmese get to migrate to Malaysia.

Kuala Lumpur
Dr Rahman checking one of his patients in his dispensary. AWANI / SHAHIR OMAR
SO I applied to become a doctor with the organisation, and when they finally had a vacancy, I didn’t think twice. I went on to work with them for 7 years as a mobile doctor, going around the Orang Asli villages, and treated handicapped children at Tasputra-PERKIM.

I am happy with this life I chose, although I didn’t want to become a doctor when I was younger. But because my marks were excellent and got a scholarship, my parents encouraged me to become one.

I feel more Malaysian now, then Burmese. Maybe as a Malaysian 51% and as a Burmese 49%. I love Myanmar, but the country does not love the Muslim citizens there. As Muslims, we are not asking for special rights there, we just want equal rights or human rights.

WHEN I first came to Malaysia 30 years ago, there were only a few shopping malls, like Yaohan Plaza (The Mall – Editor), Bukit Bintang Plaza, and Ampang Park. There were not many roads and tall buildings too. KL is totally different now.

THE people living in KL are fairly the same, then and now. The only thing is, there were not many foreigners back then, and probably only a few Burmese. Today, I see a lot of foreigners.

MANDALAY, the town where I was born and grew up in, is just a town like those you see in Kelantan. Most of the people there know me, and they know everyone else. I also know most of them; some are my relatives and friends.

AND then when I came here to KL, people mostly don’t really care about others. They are busy all the time. But over the years, I have made some friends. In KL, it’s totally an urban life. With urbanisation and development, the cost of living increased rapidly.

I remember feeling very happy the first time I came to KL. This is because, back in Myanmar, we were under the socialist dictatorship.
I remember feeling very happy the first time I came to KL. This is because, back in Myanmar, we were under the socialist dictatorship, whilst here in Malaysia it is a democratic country that had just started developing at that time. You will be surprised if I speak of the real conditions in Myanmar.

OVER there, you cannot get 24 hour electricity – we have to survive with our own generators. For water, we our own wells. Sometimes, we have to queue overnight to get 4 gallons of petrol. Here, we get everything. Everyone is happy, and the children are also happy. Everything is 24 hours.

MOST times, if I want to go to my parents’ house, although we live in the same town, I have to report to the authority, informing them of my visit. The police will come and check, and if you did not report, they can arrest you. That’s how strict it is over there. Here, you don’t have to report to anyone. I can totally feel the freedom.

Kuala Lumpur
Dr Rahman shares an old picture of himself picture from his album
ONE of my most favourite things to do here is to go to the beach. The nearest from KL would be Port Dickson. In Myanmar, the transportation system is really bad, so not many people get the privilege to go on excursions to the beach. I can count the times I’ve actually been to the beach in Myanmar – three times.

THE first few months my friends and I got here, every single chance we got, we went to the beach. Almost a few dozen times just in 4 months. We were so happy. Life was so enjoyable at that time. Now all of us only spend time working. Same like everyone else in KL.

IF I can choose, I would want to spend my last days here in KL. I am a Malaysian now, and all my three children were born and raised here in KL. This is their home.

30 years I struggled to get a Malaysian citizenship. My only hope is that my children continue to study and work hard, because although they have been living here their whole lives, sometimes life will not be so easy for them since they are not “fully” local.

I will work as a doctor for as long as I still can. Other than that, I am nearing the end of my life already, so I will also focus on taking care of myself – to keep praying, fasting and be a better Muslim, as well as to continue working hard.

 

ABDUL RAHMAN ZAFRUDIN @ KO KO GYI

Doktor. Berasal dari Myanmar, 66 tahun. Berhijrah dari Myanmar 30 tahun lalu.

NAMA Myanmar saya bermakna abang. Oleh sebab saya yang sulung, saya diberi nama itu.

SAYA mula datang ke Malaysia pada Januari 1986 dan bekerja sebagai doktor. Sebelum itu, saya juga seorang doktor di Myanmar selama 10 tahun. Maknanya, saya sudah menjadi doktor selama 40 tahun dan berkhidmat di negara ini selama 30 tahun. Saya sudah tinggal di Malayia hampir separuh daripada umur saya, dan selama saya di sini, saya seorang doktor.

DI Myanmar dulu saya terkenal sagai aktivis hak asasi manusia yang memperjuangan kesaksamaan hak untuk orang Islam Myanmar seperti Rohingya.

SAYA berhijrah ke Malaysia kerana saya jelek dengan kerja yang lama dan berhenti kerja. Tidak lama selepas itu, saya menonton sebuah video tentang beberapa orang doktor Burma yang bekerja dengan Pertubuhan Kebajikan Islam Malaysia (Perkim). Ini menarik minat saya kerana pada masa itu tidak ramai orang Burma ada peluang berhijrah ke Malaysia. Jadi saya minta kerja dengan pertubuhan itu dan apabila akhirnya mereka ada kekosongan, saya tidak fikir dua kali. Saya berkhidmat dengan mereka selama tujuh tahun sebagai doktor bergerak, masuk ke kampung-kampung Orang Asli, dan merawat kanak-kanak kurang upaya di Tasputra-Perkim.

Kuala Lumpur
Dr. Abdul Rahman Zafrudin memeriksa pesakit di kliniknya. AWANI / SHAHIR OMAR

SAYA gembira dengan jalan hidup yang saya pilih walaupun pada mulanya saya tidak pernah ada cita-cita hendak jadi doktor semasa kecil. Tetapi kerana keputusan saya cemerlang dan saya dapat biasiswa, keluarga saya menggalakkan saya untuk jadi doktor.

SAYA rasa sekarang ini lebih sebagai orang Malaysia berbanding dengan Burma. Mungkin Malaysia 51 peratus dan Myanmar 49 peratus. Saya sayang Myanmar tetapi negara itu tidak kasihkan rakyatnya yang beragama Islam. Sebagai orang Islam, kami bukannya meminta hak istimewa di sana. Kami hanya mahukan kesaksamaan hak atau hak asasi manusia.

WAKTU saya mula-mula sampai di Malaysia 3 tahun lalu, hanya ada beberapa sajashopping mall macam Yaohan (The Mall — Editor), Plaza Bukit Bintang dan Ampang Park. Tidak ada banyak jalan raya dan bangunan tinggi juga. KL sekarang sudah jauh berbeza.

ORANG-ORANG yang tinggal di KL ini keseluruhannya masih sama, dulu dan sekarang. Satu-satunya yang berbeza, pada masa itu tidak begitu banyak orang asing, dan mungkin hanya ada sedikit orang Burma. Hari ini, saya lihat ada banyak orang asing.

MANDALAY, tempat saya lahir dan membesar, hanya sebuah pekan macam yang anda boleh lihat di Kelantan. Kebanyakan orang kenal saya, dan mereka kenal orang lain juga. Saya pun kenal kebanyakan mereka, sesetengahnya sanak saudara dan kawan-kawan. Apabila saya datang ke sini, kebanyakan orang tidak begitu pedulikan orang lain. Mereka semua sibuk sepanjang masa. Tetapi selepas beberapa tahun, saya mula kenal beberapa orang kawan. KL ini kehidupan di bandar yang sepenuhnya. Dengan urbanisasi dan pembangunan, kos hidup meningkat dengan cepat.

Saya masih ingat betapa gembiranya saya pertama kali sampai di KL. Ini kerana di Myanmar, kami hidup di bawah pemerintahan sosialis yang diktator

SAYA masih ingat betapa gembiranya saya pertama kali sampai di KL. Ini kerana di Myanmar, kami hidup di bawah pemerintahan sosialis yang diktator manakala Malaysia sebuah negara demokratik yang mula membangun pada masa itu. Anda akan terkejut kalau saya ceritakan keadaan yang sebenarnya di Myanmar. Di sana, anda tidak boleh dapat bekalan elektrik 24 jam – kami bertahan dengan generator sendiri. Untuk air, kami terpaksa gali perigi sendiri. Kadang-kadang kami berbaris sepanjang malam untuk dapatkan 4 gelen petrol. Di sini, kami dapat semuanya. Semua orang gembira, dan anak-anak juga gembira. Semuanya ada 24 jam. Selalunya, kalau saya mahu ke rumah ibu bapa saya, walaupun kami tinggal di pekan yang sama, saya perlu melapor diri kepada pihak berkuasa memaklumkan kunjungan saya. Polis akan datang dan periksa, dan kalau tidak lapor diri, mereka boleh tangkap. Begitulah ketatnya keadaan di sana Di sini, tidak perlu beritahu sesiapa. Saya boleh merasakan kebebasan yang penuh.

Kuala Lumpur
Dr. Abdul Rahman Zafrudin pada zaman mudanya. KOLEKSI PERIBADI

SALAH satu kegemaran saya di sini ialah pergi ke pantai. Yang paling dekat dengan KL mungkin Port Dickson. Di Myanmar, sistem pengangkutannya sangat teruk… jadi tidak banyak orang dapat peluang untuk berehat di pantai. Saya jarang ada peluang untuk ke pantai. Saya boleh bilang berapa kali sebenarnya saya pergi ke pantai di Myanmar – tiga kali. Beberapa bulan pertama saya dan kawan-kawan sampai di sini, setiap kali ada peluang, kami pergi ke pantai. Berpuluh-puluh kali dalam masa hanya empat bulan. Kami sangat gembira. Kami menikmati hidup pada masa itu. Sekarang, semua kami hanya menghabiskan masa dengan bekerja… sama seperti orang lain di KL.

KALAU boleh memilih, saya mahu menghabiskan hari-hari akhir saya di sini, di KL. Saya rakyat Malaysia sekarang, dan semua tiga anak saya lahir dan dibesarkan di KL. Ini rumah mereka. Tiga puluh tahun saya berjuang mendapatkan kerakyatan Malaysia. Satu-satunya harapan saya ialah anak-anak saya akan terus belajar dan bekerja dengan keras, sebab walaupun mereka selama ini tinggal di sini, hidup tidak akan mudah untuk mereka kerana mereka bukan sepenuhnya orang tempatan.

SAYA akan bekerja sebagai doktor selagi mana termampu. Selebihnya, saya sudah hampir ke penghujung usia. Saya juga akan beri masa untuk diri sendiri – sembahyang, berpuasa dan jadi orang Islam yang baik, serta terus bekerja keras.

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Ye Yint Thitsar
ကြၽန္ေတာ္တို႕ရဲ့ ဆရာ Ko Ko Gyi ကို မေလးရွား Astro Awani က အင္တာဗ်ဴးထားတာပါ။
Su Kyaw
So proud of my uncle Ko Ko Gyi smile emoticon This awareness about the work you’re doing is just the tip of the iceberg. May Allah reward you for your efforts for your community. Ameen.
Azlan Min Naing
Papa looking so good! Ko Ko Gyi so proud of you!

Azlan Roni Your dad? he’s a legend!

Like · Reply · 1 · 5 hrs
Azlan Min Naing

Azlan Min Naing You know him ke??

Azlan Roni

Azlan Roni heard his stories from senior lawyers. didnt knew it was your dad.

Azlan Min Naing

Azlan Min Naing Really? Haha! What kind of stories bro? This I need to know.

Azlan Roni

Azlan Roni boleh. when are we balling again?

Azlan Min Naing

Azlan Min Naing Hari ni? No game?

Azlan Roni

Azlan Roni im out . next week la. turun satum. banyak drama sana skrang.

Ko Ko Gyi
Ko Ko Gyi@ Azlan Min Naing …Your friend Azlan Roni heard my stories from senior lawyers??? I am surprized. Other than my habit of asking some tricky questions (as a friendly chat) regarding their professions.. esp to the students, graduate students and PhD students…eg IF Quantity Control, I asked my do not study Quality Control? IF advertisement student, for whom he want to advertise for immediately after graduation? (To apply job…for himself.) . In English : Regarding the “Agreement of Verbs with its subject” asked whether “more than one patient ARE waiting outside” OR “more than one patient IS waiting outside”…..And to the LAWYERS…I ask them the definition or meaning of “Rule by Law” which NO ONE yet have seems to understand or have a glimpse of meaning. I told them that in Malaysia,100% of Human Rights Activists and 100% of Politicians (esp. opposition politicians could answer that question correctly.) I suggested that difference of Rule of Law and Rule by Law should be taught even during the early introduction lectures. But If your friend give you the different reason …please tell me.
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