Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. I am delighted to be here today to launch this wonderfully entertaining book, and I want to congratulate Tan Sri VC George on this publication. As he tells us in the title, the book consists of a great many stories which take us on a most colourful ride through not only his own life, but also that of our nation itself, as it was taking form and during its early decades.
  2. Some of these tales will already be familiar to many of us present today, and to many of the book’s audience in the wide circle of the author’s friends and associates. And while we can all anticipate the humourous nature of these stories, some of us also know all too well what it is like to be the subject of them, and the victim of his expert teasing. Few of us can object to being made fun of so skilfully, however, especially as the author doesn’t spare himself. Such an ability to make fun of oneself is of course very much the mark of a good sport.
  3. Those who are unfamiliar with the stories, or their author’s mischevious talents, are in for a treat indeed. We are regaled by anecdotes and vignettes that span the decades from his youth in Klang and studies in the UK; to his middle years, much of them spent at the Long Bar; his later life, filled with a wealth of family and friends; and his retirement, much of which has also been spent at the Long Bar ! The tales, and their amusement value, are further enriched by the fact that the author and many of his peer group are acclaimed national figures. We certainly gain new insights into their characters, and their foibles, from their appearances in these stories.
  4. VC George starts by mining the rich vein of his early career in Negeri Sembilan and Kuantan, when Malaysia was on the cusp of its Independence in the 1950s and ‘60s. He manages in this early section to find a way to defend drinking and driving, apparently a rather common practice in those days. This somewhat controversial digression sets the tone for the stories, which are generally highly personal, at times verging on the outrageous, and always most amusing. I must say, the author certainly ‘takes no prisoners’ whatsoever, in relation to either his subjects or the subject matter. But this bold approach not only causes the reader to laugh out loud, but it also results in the creation of a vivid portrait of his generation, and of Malaysia as it was then.
  5. He recounts many in turn embarrassing and entertaining episodes from these long-ago times. One memorable tale features a European chef, new to Malaysia, attempting to explain to a gathering of local VIPs the method used to harvest the truffles flavouring the pasta dish that they have just been served. When his boss kicks him under the table at the mention of the truffle-hunting pigs, he hurriedly reassures his audience that dogs are more commonly used these days ! As with many of his stories, this one is not only hilariously scandalous in its main substance, but then it ends up with an even more shocking sting in the tail !
  6. My father makes a few appearances in the book. VC George credits Sultan Azlan Shah, along with Tun Suffian, with having persuaded him to leave his private legal practice in the early 1980s, and become a Judge. This intervention showed their good judgement, as the author went on to have a long and highly distinguished career on the Bench.
  7. A memorable story in which my father features is one with which I’m sure some of you are already familiar, involving a race won by a horse named, most serendipitously, ‘Don’t Trust George’. In spite of the author’s acknowledged ignorance of horse-racing, his backing of this fortuitously-named horse not only paid off handsomely at the time, but has served him well in a great many retellings ever since !
  1. I believe that at least part of the secret of his success lies in the balance that VC George achieves between making fun of others and the many jokes he makes at his own expense. It is this large dose of self-deprecating humour that allows our friend to poke so much fun at others, especially his closest friends, no matter how honorable their achievements in life, or how lofty their position. This also serves to remind us that no matter how exalted one’s status in life, none of us are above being made fun of. There is a deeper lesson in this, and an important one at that, given the inherent dangers of the power that comes with achievement and status. This lesson is that no matter what, one must always retain a healthy sense of humour, and the ability to laugh at oneself and to laugh with the world.
  2. The deeper meaning that can be found in some of the author’s writing, alongside what I might call his comedic genuis, is exemplified in his tale about the shared realization by him and a close friend of the unfortunate onset of early baldness. This occurred while they were both still students. The friend shall remain nameless, and those of you who don’t know the story will have to read the book to find out. As VC George tells it, although he came to terms with the unwelcome prognosis, his friend tried to fight it for many years. He made full use of whatever means available to help him in this already lost battle. The story has many comic stings in its tail, in the author’s inimitable style, but somehow it also manages to express something very poignant about the personal vanities with which we are all affilicted in some form. And it even manages to convey something of the nature of love in a successful lifelong marriage.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. Books containing as many laugh-out-loud moments as this one are few and far between, and I must heartily congratulate VC George for having translated his razor-sharp wit so effectively to the page. His particularly mischevious brand of humour really is just as effective in his writing as it is in his speeches and in person. But the joys of this book go beyond the comedy, as I have said, and can be found in its evocative depiction of the Malaysia of his generation, as well as in the touching insights it provides into the human condition.
  2. For these reasons, I cannot recommend this book highly enough, both to those already familiar with its tales, and to those discovering for the first time not only the author’s wit, but also his great appreciation of humanity. And on that note, it is with great pleasure that I now formally launch “Some Stories I have Told, and Some That I Haven’t” by Tan Sri VC George.
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