The Romantic Patient – Cecil Rajendra


The Romantic Patient

Penang-based lawyer-poet Cecil Rajendra - The Star file pic

Penang-based lawyer-poet-human rights activist and Past President of HAKAM, Cecil Rajendra – The Star file pic

The report said, he
had been suffering
from strange delusions
of justice and equality;
that he believed in
such myths like love
brotherhood and liberty.

Worse, the man in question
had visions of an open
society: free from poverty
bigotry and corruption.
He also had a long history
of dreams of a friendlier
environment for his children.

These hazardous hallucinations
(the report went on to say)
precipitated the patient into
speaking out at public forums
and writing a series of articles
which forced our authorities’
hand in stopping the propagation
of such an inflammable material.

After three short months
in a Government facility,
followed by another nine
of counselling and therapy,
the patient can be deemed
(the report concluded) to
have been truly rehabilitated;

he is now in a position
to take his rightful place
in the ranks of the establishment
– fully cured of all his romanticism!

~ Cecil Rajendra



Cecil Rajendra is a Past President of HAKAM, and is currently an Exco Member of HAKAM.

Raffel (1989), in his essay Malaysian Plainspeak says, “Rajendra is without question, the best English language poet in Malaysia”.

Nazareth (1989), in his article World Literature Today speaks of Rajendra as “fearless in his writing … not having any ideological biases: he exposes and attacks all those who are anti-people. Quoting the ‘Far Eastern Economic Review’, Nazareth says that Rajendra is a “one-man pressure group, committed to awakening people to the social evils that beset his country and the world in general”.

In 2006, Rajendra was also nominated for the Nobel Literature Prize. Although he did not win, he deems the nomination itself a great thrill and honor (The SUN newspaper).

“Dynamic” was how a reviewer of Britain’s Times Literary Supplement judged Rajendra’s work.

Addison (1982) admired Rajendra’s work by saying that “The whole experience was a complete, if unconscious, refutation of the academic and disengaged approach”.