Prominent historian Khoo Kay Kim dies, aged 82

Gone but forever in our heart. -Pix from Google

By Huzraifah Atikah

One of Malaysia’s most prolific historian and academician has died of heart failure at Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (PPUM) this morning at around 10am. 

Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim, born in 1937 at Kampar, Perak, left behind his wife, Puan Sri Rathi Khoo, 75, as well as three sons, Eddin, Rubin and Mavin.

Khoo’s second son, Rubin Khoo, 47, said his father had a by-pass operation last October but his health deteriorated after that.

“Despite his poor health, he persevered until the end. We are making arrangements and will announce details of the funeral later. We appreciate your prayers at this sad time. May he ever rest in peace,” the Khoo family said. 

Khoo, who was also one of the writers who drafted Rukun Negara after the racial riots in 1969, wrote countless works in both English and Malay on Malaysian history.

His essays and writings have been a primary source of reference for the history curriculum in Malaysia. 

He was most noted for his work, The Western Malay States 1850–1873, which was published in 1972.

Khoo served for over 50 years in Universiti Malaya’s history department, becoming a lecturer first in 1967 and, subsequently, gaining his professorship and appointment as the chair of Malaysian History from 1974 up to his retirement in 1992. But, he maintained an office there, post-retirement.

Khoo was still researching history and actively participating in public life in his 80s. He also published his memoir "I, KKK – The Autobiography of a Historian" in early 2017. 

In 2017 as well, he was given the distinction of Tokoh Akademik Negara ke-10 in recognition of his achievements in the academic world.

The last few years had been busy for Khoo, as he was regularly invited as a guest lecturer, head of panels for academic forums and evaluation panel for history-related publications.

He once said that he does not consider himself retired as he was still continuously doing research and finding so many new things about Malaysia, which have not been revealed. 

“This country is an amazing country. You cannot just see a few things and expect people to understand it fully," he was quoted as saying in an interview with the media back in 2017. 

Youth Connect would like to also express sincere condolences to Khoo’s wife and sons.

This is a big loss to Malaysia. Gone from our sight, but never from our heart. RIP.