GEORGE TOWN: Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy today said the loss of prominent consumer advocate SM Mohamad Idris was a big loss to the state and country.
Ramasamy said Idris had been a legend in the country’s civil society movement for many decades now and had been at the forefront on many pertinent matters.
“Whether you like him or not, people paid attention to what Idris had to say,” he said when contacted.
Ramasamy said while Idris was a known critic of the Penang government, he said the elder activist had the best interests of Malaysians and Penangites at heart.
“He ensured Penang was green and took care of the environment.
“It does not matter whether he opposed us or not. We respected good ideas from him and the society he represented.”
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, in a short text, said: “Salam takziah. Passing of a great son of Penang.”
Penang Forum’s Khoo Salma said Idris was the “greatest champion and protector” of a green Penang.
“He defended our rights as consumers and spearheaded the discourse about healthy living in this part of the world.
“He was gentle with his friends and fierce with shameless polluters and destroyers of the environment.
“As a much-loved and admired father to many of us in the environmental movement, we deeply mourn this loss,” she said.
Former Consumers International president and Think City Sdn Bhd chairman Anwar Fazal said Idris was an inspiration for two generations of Malaysians and his passing is a great loss to the nation.
“He was both a public intellectual and an activist of social and environmental issues. I have worked with him for 55 years and he was an inspiration to two generations of young people.
“Idris’s global work, through his Third World Network and Citizens International, was remarkable and highly-respected internationally.”
Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam president Jacob George recalled his time with Idris as a research officer in 1982.
He said Idris was the main driver of his success today and had pushed him to read law in the United Kingdom.
“I came from a very poor family but he encouraged me to read law in the UK and supported my application for an international scholarship with the World Council of Churches in Geneva, which I succeeded in getting.
“I am forever indebted and grateful to him for the ‘father’ figure he was.”
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said Idris was a brave consumerist who was keen on sharing his knowledge and experience with all.
He said he had met Idris thrice since becoming minister to get his advice on many consumer-related issues.
“His contribution to society is big and his name will be forever etched in the history of the consumer movement in Malaysia.”
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations deputy president Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman said Idris had continued to voice out on consumer issues despite his advanced age.
He said Idris had never gotten tired of demanding changes from consumers, taking pertinent issues to the press every now and then.
Yusof said Idris’s consistency in taking care of the welfare of consumers ought to be an example to the consumers’ movement in the future.
Malaysia Nature Society Penang chapter adviser D Kanda Kumar said: “Idris says what is on his mind for the importance of consumers. It is a big loss to the consumerist movement in the country.”