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“I wanted to be a footballer”

TAN SRI KHOO KAY KIM – National Historian

EDDIN KHOO – Writer & founder of PUSAKA

Malaysians (Interviewed in 2018)

Tan Sri Khoo passed away in 2019.

In 2017, I, KKK — The Autobiography of Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim was published through the efforts of his eldest son Eddin.

Khoo is our national historian but was more interested in playing football than studies in his early days. However, the pragmatic side of him meant he chose to first obtain a degree in history and subsequently, his Masters and PhD at University Malaya.

Most people find it quite shocking that Tan Sri Khoo really wasn’t concerned about how his children performed at school. It could be that academics have a more idealistic view of education, believing that it should be about provoking new ways of thinking rather than just reciting information on command.

This perspective emerges time and time again in his autobiography, along with his frustration that such a seemingly simple philosophy has yet to be implemented in our schools. It is his opinion that most of our problems can be solved by tackling the education system. He feels that much can be done to fix some of the problems like politicisation of race through an accurate knowledge of history.

Of the three sons, it is Eddin who knows his father best. Their paths often cross due to the nature of their work, which has largely focused on the socio-cultural. Eddin says their upbringing was liberal and there were never any restrictions. Disagreements would centre on politics and world affairs or turn into philosophical debates about right and wrong.’ Khoo is often asked about what he thinks about the future of Malaysia but has this to say. “We have to start with the schools and education.”

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