I wrote so readers can enjoy the stories. In the plantations, you live with colourful characters. Many appear in the sixty chapters of each book. I started planting in 1963 at Cashwood Estate in Perak, so these true stories are a glimpse of the past. I spoke Tamil, as most rubber tappers were from India then. One of the stories tells how insects were brought in from Africa to take over the work of pollinating the female flowers. It was an idea from a Scotsman, Datuk Leslie Davidson, who was a planter in Cameroon before coming to our country.Plantation expert and author Mahbob Abdullah answered readers' questions on the buiness pages of The Star yesterday . When asked his reasons for writing his books Planter's Tales and Planter Upriver, he says :
An eminent entomologist, Datuk Dr Rahman Anwar Syed from Pakistan did the scientific work. Tun Musa Hitam was Primary Industries Minister then. Soon after he agreed to have the insects brought in, we stopped all the pollination workers. The insects did a much better job.
The books have a following. You can find them at various places such as Syidah bookshop in KLIA, the Incorporated Society of Planters near Jalan Ampang, Silverfish bookshop in Bangsar and the Badan Warisan office at Jalan Conlay. The Natural History Publications sells them in Kota Kinabalu, and you can find them in the biggest bookshop in Miri. Copies will also be sold in Cameron Highlands, at the pavilion on the Boh tea estate of Sungei Palas. There, in the cool air, you can enjoy a cup of tea and read.
It grew from my interest in reading. I went to Undang Rembau English School, where everything was new including the boo ks. I can still recall the smell of the books in that library. Miss Boon the librarian got us to read. Then the Henry Gurney Memorial Library was op ened by the town field. I also went to people’s homes if they had books. Datuk Dr Kamarudin Kachar was one of them. He came from a rich family and had many books. At the Royal Military College in Port Dickson, my teachers also got me to read. One was Capt Bernard Preedy, who fought in the First World War. He encouraged me to write. I am writing my third book, also about plantations, which is mainly about stories from overseas including Indonesia, Africa, and one on Zanzibar.