5 November 1936 to 16 November 2023
The Malaysian Bahá’í community has been robbed of one of its staunchest promoters of the Faith, created by the wondrous hands of Bahá’u’lláh. Anthony Casimir Louis accepted the Faith during the Ten Year Crusade period and was one of those who was instrumental in laying a strong foundation for the Faith in this country at a time when the Faith was in its nascent stage of development. His relentless services carried out with sincere devotion and the fullest dedication shall forever decorate the pages of Malaysian Bahá’í history.
Anthony Casimir Louis, popularly known as Anthony Louis, was an Eurasian with his roots in the Portuguese community of Malacca and was introduced to the Faith in 1956 by one Ms. Meenachi Chetty, sister-in-law of Mr. G. Saurajen, the first believer of Malacca. That was when Anthony was working as a Junior Technician with the Public Works Department in Malacca. Going through pamphlets and booklets on the Faith, Anthony, a staunch Catholic by faith was moved by the new Message. Dr. K. M. Fozdar, a pioneer from India to Singapore came over to Malacca over weekends to conduct deepening classes at the home of the Saurajens. Anthony who was already investigating the Faith never missed any classes conducted by Dr. K. M. Fozdar. Anthony was particularly moved by the masterful writings of the Guardian in the English language. Anthony himself had a good command of the English language. Anthony was an avid reader from his childhood days and had a great passion for the English language, which enabled him as years went by to shine out in that language. The opportune moment was 9 November 1957, when Leong Tat Chee and Saurajen organised a memorial for the Guardian at the latter’s home. Leong Tat Chee and Saurajen were then members of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Malacca town. Anthony Louis attended the gathering and was further moved when listening to the detailed description of the Guardian that Dr. K. M. Fozdar presented. Then on the eve of Christmas 1957, Anthony and Mrs. Leong Tat Chee accepted the Faith at the home of Saurajen. Anthony became the first Eurasian of Portuguese descent to accepted the Faith in Malaysia. That was a new chapter in his life and there was to be no turning back.
Anthony’s meeting with a Hand of the Cause started just three days after accepting the Faith. And that Hand of the Cause was none other than Dr. Raḥmatu’lláh Muhájir who took an immediate liking to Anthony. Anthony attended the first Summer School of Malaya from 27 to 29 December 1957, an event that was graced by Dr. Muhájir. It was here that Anthony was able to get a fuller picture of the glorious Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. It was at this event too that Anthony undertook his first Bahá’í assignment. As soon as the Summer School classes came to a close at 10:30 pm on 29 December 1957, Dr. Muhájir convened a meeting that lasted until 12:30 am the following day. This was the meeting that produced a dynamic plan, the first of many plans to come from the brilliant mind of Dr. Muhájir. At that meeting Anthony volunteered to follow up work among the Asli people in Kampung Jus and Simpang Bekok. G. Saurajen was the first in the country to give the Faith to the Asli believers, and that was in Kampung Jus. In subsequent visits Saurajen took along Anthony to that village. Anthony and Saurajen visited Simpang Bekok and Kampong Jus for some time in 1958 and in 1959, the Local Spiritual Assembly of Simpang Bekok was elected.
Meanwhile, apart from local teaching activities he also went outstation for teaching and emerged as a dedicated teacher of the Cause, and travel taught in many parts of the country. In early 1958, a teaching trip was undertaken by Anthony Louis and Yankee Leong to northern Malaya, and they stopped over in Penang Island on 11 March for a fireside at Lim Cheng Teck Avenue. Miss Jeanne Frankel, pioneer from the USA to Nicobar Island and a Knight of Bahá’u’lláh was the speaker. A total of 45 enquirers attended the fireside.
As his momentum grew in the arena of service, he was faced by strong opposition. As Anthony himself would recall often, it was the opposition he confronted that buttressed him in the Faith in the immediate days after his declaration. That a staunch Catholic had accepted a new religion was something that the closely knit Portuguese community could not accept. He was ex-communicated by the Catholic church and the Portuguese community of Malacca. His family members were vehemently against Anthony Louis leaving the Catholic church, and they even threatened to kill him. His own brother threw away his personal belongings onto the street. That caused Anthony to move into the government quarters of Saurajen at 17, Fort Terrace. This became a blessing as he was now able to be actively involved in Bahá’í activities. In spite of such opposition, Anthony rose to serve with unstinting devotion and fortitude, all because by this time he had understood the essence of the teachings and spirit of the Faith with such depth that nothing could shake his belief.
That was not the end of his opposition. When some of his relatives and the Eurasian community saw that he was more active than ever in the Faith, they sent petitions to the Public Works Department in Malacca town for him to be transferred out of Malacca town. Their petitions worked, and in January 1958, he was transferred to Jasin town, some 18 miles away from Malacca Town. Jasin was at that time a black area for reasons of the outlawed communist infiltration. The Eurasian community believed that that transfer would dampen his spirit, but his enthusiasm to serve the Faith only heightened while he was in Jasin. It was in Jasin that Anthony was elected to the first Local Spiritual Assembly on Ridván 1958. Other members of the Assembly were Mr. E. A. Fernandez, Mr. Arthur Knight, Mr. Tushar Kanti-Paul, Mr. Chakravarthy, Mr. Surinder Singh, Mr. Arumugam Ramanan, Mr. Goh Tiow Lim and Raymond Peter. He teamed up with the local believers in organizing firesides in the police quarters of Mr. Leong Ho Chiew and was involved in street teaching as well. He gave the Faith to several people. Koh Ai Lin, a teacher in the Bandar Hilir English School of Malacca, lived close to the house of Anthony Louis. He gave her the Faith and she accepted it after a few firesides in 1958. She rose to be one of the foremost Bahá’í women in Malacca and it would be Anthony who would conduct her Bahá’í wedding later in 1979.
A RARE PRIVILEGE
Another turning point for Anthony Louis was attaining the presence of nine Hands of the Cause at the Intercontinental Conference held in Singapore in September 1958. The nine Hands he met at this conference were Mr. Leroy C. Ioas, Mr. Taráz’u’lláh Samandarí, Mr. Abu’l-Qásim Faizi, Mr. Harold Collis Featherstone, Dr. Raḥmatu’lláh Muhájir, Miss Agnes Alexander, Mr. Shu’á’u’lláh ‘Alá’í, Dr. ‘Ali Muhammad-Varqá, and Mr. Enoch Olinga. As early as that year at his age of 22 he had a personal camera with which he took several photographs. Unfortunately, these photos have faded with the efflux of time. Later he was to meet Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum in Port Dickson in 1961 and Jalál Khazeh in Malacca in 1972. He met a few of them several times on different occasions. Thus, he was one who was fortunate enough to have been constantly deepened in the Faith through exposure to the examples set by these Hands of the Cause, and these diffusers of divine fragrances exerted so much influence in his spiritual life. Anthony was privileged to absorb the true essence of the Faith through their examples, words and guidance.
He was among the first batch of believers to view the portrait of Bahá’u’lláh at that Intercontinental Conference. Raymond Peter and Anthony Louis were given the responsibility of arranging the flowerpot on the table on which the portrait of the Blessed Beauty was to be placed. That simple service exerted tremendous transformation within his soul. At a session of the Conference, Anthony Louis gave an emotional talk on how he had accepted the Faith and the opposition he had faced. In the course of his talk, Anthony quoted much from the Writings which the conference participants appreciated. Just as Anthony was talking so emphatically his father who was residing in Singapore and his brother who came to visit his father in Singapore appeared and stood at the end of the hall uninvited and listened to his entire speech. They were the very ones who had opposed Anthony accepting the Faith. At the end of that day’s session, they took Anthony out for dinner. At dinner his father told Anthony to follow what he felt was right for him, which surprised Anthony to the core as that was clearly a change of heart!
During the session of the Conference there was a call for pioneers. Raymond Peter and Anthony Louis volunteered to pioneer to any part of the world. Another unexpected surprise greeted Anthony. The first Japanese believer was his roommate in a hotel booked by the Bahá’í philanthropist Habib Sabet. On 29 September 1958, the last day of the conference yet another surprise was waiting for him. At midnight, William Walter Smits or Bill Smits, and William Maxwell the two Americans serving the USA army in South Korea and the first Japanese believer took him to the top floor of the hotel to celebrate his birthday.
BACK TO MALACCA TOWN
It did not take long before Anthony was transferred back to Malacca in late 1958, only to frustrate the scheming of the Eurasian community . Those who had wanted to see him out of Malacca town were upset when they heard Anthony was returning to Malacca town. Petitions to stop his transfer from Jasin to Malacca on grounds of his belief in the Bahá’í Faith poured in. His Supervisor, Mr. Kamarul Zaman, who was a Senior Technical Assistant in Malacca town called up Anthony and asked for an explanation on what the Faith stood for. Following a brief explanation by Anthony, his supervisor was impressed, convinced and promised to support and protect him. Thereafter, Anthony served the Faith in Malacca with great enthusiasm and zeal, and soon these ill-wishers found that the plans to suppress him and his Faith came to naught.
In 1958, Kumara Das, Anthony Louis and Saurajen conducted Sunday Bahá’í Classes for the students and youths at the Malacca High School. Leong Ho San, Errol Seow Hoon Hin, M. Maniam, Jami Subramaniam and Purushothman Nair were Bahá’í youths and were students at the Malacca High School. There was an active band of youth in Malacca and in 1960 Anthony became the Chairman of the Youth committee.
Sunday Classes, 1958. Seated L-R: Anthony, Mrs. Lena Saurajen, G. Saurajen and Kumara Das.
As early as 1960 Anthony emerged as a very deepened Bahá’í and was always immersing himself in the ocean of His words. He would over the years establish a comprehensive library. In 1960, Anthony became the first winner in a quiz competition organised by the ‘Bahá’í News’ magazine published by the Local Spiritual Assembly of Malacca town. He was presented with the book ‘The Sayings of Muhammad’ by Allama Sir Abdullah Al-Mamun Al-Suhrahwardy with a foreword by Mahatma Gandhi, the freedom fighter in India. Along with the book, the Editorial Board presented him with a handwritten certificate dated 1 December 1960, which read,
“First Prize. Bahá’í News Quiz Contest No 1. Awarded to Mr. Anthony Casimir Louis. The answers submitted showed a high degree of knowledge of the Bahá’í Faith – easily the best read in Bahá’í Scriptures.”
He was able to discuss any topic so spontaneously that believers flocked to him to learn more of the Faith. Thus, he was a natural choice for speaker at Bahá’í gatherings of the early days and had a deep understanding of the Faith. He was about the earliest believer in the country to have committed to memory very long passages from the Writings. However, there were still some questions in his heart that remained unanswered which came to be answered through Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Tarázu’lláh Samandarí. Anthony Louis was quite emotional in meeting the Hand in 1966. Mr. Samandarí at that time was the only person still living to have met the Supreme Manifestation of God, and Anthony certainly did not want to miss the opportunity to learn more and raised several questions to Mr. Samandarí whose answers were translated by Mr. Soheil, his grandson.
The Bahá’í s of Malacca were also instrumental in deepening the youth of other communities, particularly Seremban. S. Bhaskaran, Anthony Louis, as well as Leong Tat Chee, all from Malacca came on weekends to deepen the Seremban Bahá’í youths and conduct firesides. S. Satanam who accepted the Faith in 1960 in Seremban and Anthony Louis became the dearest of friends. On many weekends Anthony made lonely trips to Seremban to conduct firesides and deepen the Seremban Bahá’í youth. Anthony would arrive by bus at the Seremban bus station and Satanam would take him on his motorcycle to the Bahá’í Centre in Seremban. Anthony would stay overnight there after conducting deepening classes. Anthony was well versed in Christian subjects and Yankee Leong would request him to explain these subjects to the new batch of youth. While the deepening classes went on in the hall, Yankee Leong would stay in his room and say prayers for the success of the deepening classes.
Deepening class conducted by Anthony Louis for youth of Seremban, August 1961. Seated (L-R) Sabapathy, Anthony Louis, Yankee Leong, S. Satanam, unidentified. Nit Singam stands second from right in the second row, with Isaac DCruz at his back.
Anthony would recall the role Leong Tat Chee played in fostering unity in the community by having regular gatherings in his house, mostly for deepening purposes. During the fasting period, all would come to the house of Leong Tat Chee to have their breakfast and start the fast. In the evening, they came back to break their fast. This happened for the entire Bahá’í fasting month of 19 days. This was one of the most memorable parts of his early Bahá’í life.
TEST OF FAITH
Since 1960 disunity was developing in the Malacca community, and the believers were utterly confused. In the confusion that prevailed some believers aligned themselves with Mr. G. Saurajen whose voting rights were removed by the Regional Spiritual Assembly of South East Asia in 1962 for starting a parallel administration. Sadly, Anthony too aligned himself with Saurajen as the latter owed a debt of gratitude to Saurajen for giving him shelter for months when he was thrown out of his house. Anthony had witnessed Saurajen sacrificing so much for the Faith and sympathised with him. He married Miss Chan Suan Neo, a staff of the Telecommunications Department, and his fellow believer on the Local Bahá’í Youth Committee of Malacca from 1958 to 1960. Their marriage was conducted on 23 February 1963 by the Local Spiritual Assembly that Saurajen formed. Since that was not the official Local Spiritual Assembly, the marriage did cause administrative sanctions on the newly married. The loving Bahá’ís of Malacca understood his position but wanted him to see the bigger picture – obedience and firmness in the Covenant. One day in 1964, as the meeting of the Local Spiritual Assembly was in session in the house of Leong Tat Chee, Anthony and his wife walked in, and apologised for having been led astray and expressed their sincere intention to return to the Faith. The Local Spiritual Assembly met and wrote to the newly established National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia that was elected in 1964. Leong Tat Chee was elected to the national institution in 1964 and was appointed Auxiliary Board member later in the same year. The national institution welcomed them into the community. This glad tiding was conveyed to the couple and soon after that they came to Leong Tat Chee’s house where a proper Bahá’í wedding ceremony was conducted. With that Anthony Louis, became the first believer from the Eurasian of Portuguese descent to marry a local Peranakan Chinese (Baba-Nyonya). As Leong Tat Chee’s emotions ran high, he pulled up a chair, climbed on it and got down a photograph of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that was hanging on the wall, and presented it to the couple. In presenting them with the photo of the Master, Leong Tat Chee said, “Both of you have proven to be firm in the Covenant, and as a token of my personal appreciation I am gifting you the photograph of the Centre of the Covenant. You will agree nothing could be more valuable than this.” As these words were spoken, there was an atmosphere of absolute silence, and the couple were deeply moved to the core of their hearts. Sometime later the Local Spiritual Assembly presented the Bahá’í Wedding Certificate to the couple. Anthony used to say that this episode in his life should be recorded for the purpose of accurate history. He was a firm believer that facts should not be compromised to please anyone. To cite a case in point, when I was writing the book JEWEL AMONG NATIONS which is on the history of the Faith in West Malaysia, he insisted his episode on why he and his wife lost their administrative rights, and how they made a comeback should be included in the book. He then said, “Let my life be a lesson to the younger generation of believers, that the best and the mightiest protection is always to be under the sheltering care of the divinely ordained institutions. Such was the greatness of this believer!”
Once news spread that Anthony and his wife had placed themselves under the duly elected Local Spiritual Assembly of Malacca, they received the strongest flak from G. Saurajen, for what the latter considered a betrayal. But the couple, who were clear in their mind knew the practical path they were now walking, having taken shelter under the protecting wings of the Blessed Beauty. The return of the couple to be under the shadow of the Local Spiritual Assembly was indeed a dramatic event by itself and it started off a new chapter in their lives. The news that the couple had come back to the mainstream of activities was passed on to Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Muhájir. In 1964, when there was a Bahá’í Youth Conference in Seremban, Anthony Louis was there too. Dr. Muhájir and Yankee Leong too came for the conference. As Dr. Muhájir alighted from the car, he spotted Anthony Louis standing among the crowd. Dr. Muhájir rushed towards Anthony, placed his hands on the shoulders of Anthony, took him aside and said, “Anthony, I am just coming from the Holy Land. When I was in the Shrine of the Báb, I prayed for the believers in Malacca. Then I thought of you and said a special prayer for you. Now I land here and am happy to see you standing strong and firm with the Bahá’ís. See how much Bahá’u’lláh loves you!” Dr. Muhájir then hugged Anthony who broke down and sobbed. The other Bahá’ís who had gathered at the conference watched the episode but did not know what that private conversation was about. According to Anthony, those consoling words and the loving hug of Dr. Muhájir gave him the strength to continue serving the Cause. He earned the love and admiration of Hand of the Cause Dr. Muhájir for having stood firm in the covenant and showing undivided obedience to institutions. Anthony and his wife redoubled their efforts in the service to the Cause with renewed zeal. From 1965 Anthony served regularly on the Local Spiritual Assembly of Malacca and was a delegate for many years. His wife too served on the Local Spiritual Assembly a few years from 1966. Anthony, Sathasivam and K. Somu had undertaken some teaching trips to estates in the company of Dr. Muhájir. Anthony always recollected that the very company of Dr. Muhájir was highly charged. His style of deepening or teaching the Faith was always exemplary as his talks were so penetrative.
Anthony became a confidant of Leong Tat Chee, the one in whom Leong entrusted many responsibilities. Each time Leong Tat Chee went outstation he would write letters from wherever he was to Anthony Louis, tasking him some responsibilities. Part of a letter from Leong Tat Chee to Anthony Louis dated 30 July 1965 reads “…We are travelling up north today. Mr. Fatheazam already arrived … Paul told me you are to standby when Paul’s group is going to the East Coast. Please call my house daily for advice re future programme.”
In 1965, the first National Teaching Institute was built in Bukit Baru, Malacca. Many started to take up some responsibilities. While Kumara Das and Tushar Kanti-Paul looked into the legal aspects Anthony Louis, with his technical background with the Public Works Department supervised the construction work. The erection of this building was viewed as a national achievement and fulfilled one of the goals of the Nine Year Plan. Thereafter numerous local, regional and national activities were organised in this building. Although popularly called the ‘National Teaching Institute’ the building was named ‘BAHÁ’Í INSTITUTE’. After the passing of Leong Tat Chee, the building was named after him and so came to be called the ‘INSTITIUT BAHA’I LEONG TAT CHEE’ in the Malay language. That became the first teaching institute of the entire South East Asian communities.
Following the official opening of this building on 2 January 1966, a series of regular deepening sessions were conducted by several knowledgeable believers. Most of these sessions were held over weekends. Anthony was one of them. When he conducted his first part of the lesson on the Dawn Breakers in 1967, news spread very fast of the sensation that his class created. The following week the number of participants doubled. C. Kanagaratnam of Bahau area cycled for two hours so as not to miss the class. There he was surprised to listen to Anthony conducting the class with no notes or referring to the book. He mentioned names of the historical figures, names of the towns and dates. He spoke with such energy and that every participant was deeply moved.
The one other session which Anthony conducted was during a training for the community. A well planned Bahá’í Teachers Training Course conducted on 20 and 21 September 1969 in which 25 friends participated. Anthony spoke with much eloquence on ‘Recording and Filing.’
Bahá’í Teachers Training Course, September 1969. Seated (L-R) S. Saratha, S. Bhaskaran, Leong Tat Chee, Joan Peter, Raymond Peter, Anthony Louis. Squatting (L-R) Sathasivam, S. K. Somu, M. Maniam. Standing second from left is S. Ravichandran, third from left is Annamalai, fourth from left is S. Chandrasekaran and sixth from left is Ramayah.
Anthony was deeply involved in summer schools that used to be organised most of the time in Malacca. At the Summer School held in the Malacca Youth Camp in 1966, Appu Raman from Kajang was the principal while Anthony Malacca was the Organising Secretary. In a few summer schools he served as warden. He demanded a high level of discipline from those staying in the dormitories. A participant said that his booming voice alone sent shivers down the spines of the participants who were hanging outside the dormitories after lights out!
The one other incident that is etched in the minds of many believers happened at the Oceanic Conference of the South China Seas held in 1971 in Singapore, Anthony came to be known to all of the close to 700 participants. He was serving as information officer at the Conference. While the Oceanic Conference was in session at Singapore, an international telephone call was arranged to speak to Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum who was at the Continental Conference of the West and Central Africa in Monrovia, Liberia. However, at that material point in time, the Public Announcement system failed. The audience was unaware of what was going on in the stage. Inbum Chinniah, Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia quickly called upon Anthony to go up the stage and explain the situation, which he did well in his usual loud booming voice. When Anthony announced the situation, even those in the last row in the conference heard him loud and clear.
Oceanic Conference in Singapore. (L-R) Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Enoch Olinga, Inbum Chinniah, Anthony Louis, N. S. S. Silan.
The one other incident which he would recall with laughter was an unexpected respect that befell him. From the end of 1958 to the end of 1963 when Mr. Tony Fernandez was serving as the Officer-in-Charge of Police District in Malacca, Anthony used to visit him at his Police Headquarters, in batik shirts. Many who saw the well-built and tall Anthony frequenting the Police Headquarters mistook him for a Police Detective and came forward to offer favours which he refused however small it may be, including coffee from the Chinese Coffee shop owners. They were surprised at Anthony’s refusal of favours. It did not take time before they came to know that Anthony was a believer in the Bahá’í Faith.
Visit by Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Jalál Kházeh to Malacca town in April 1972. Anthony stands second from left.
There was one more incident of which Anthony would always recall with a smile on his lips. In one Summer School, he was in charge of collecting food coupons before letting the participants get into the food hall. One member of the national institution came to the entrance door of the food hall but forgot to bring along his coupon. Anthony told the person to bring the coupon. The person said, “You know me well Anthony, please let me in.” Anthony replied, “The national institution of which you are a member set the rules and gave me this task. But how could I carry out this task if you yourself do not set an example by following the rules set by that institution of which you are a member.” The member of the national institution, “You are right” and went back and returned with the coupon in his hand and a smile on his face.
Although based in Malacca, Anthony was also used at the national level. With the launching of the Five-Year Period for Proclamation in Malaysia (1968-1973) there was a need to set up some form of a Bahá’í Information Service. The State Information Offices and the representatives were appointed across the country. It was Anthony who was appointed for Malacca state.
Photo taken in 1968. Seated (L-R) Anthony, Jeanne Frankel from the USA, and Kumara Das. Jeanne visited Malaysia to help out in the Proclamation activities.
Observance of United Nations Day, 1970. Leong Tat Chee speaks. Seated at left is S. Bhaskaran. Anthony is seated at the extreme left at the main table.
Anthony Louis had memorized several long passages from the Writings, especially those deep passages of the Guardian. At gatherings, speakers such as Dr. Muhájir and Dr. C. J. Sundram would call upon him to recite some relevant passages in the course of their talks.
He was promoted as Technician in 1988 and retired in 1991 and was involved in some contractual jobs here and there. From his young age, he was an accomplished martial arts trainer, holding a black belt qualification in the Korean martial art of Taekwondo. He used to provide training sessions to several agencies, including the police and customs departments. Born and retired in Malacca, he was very much known and an iconic figure among the people of town. He walked tall, well known as a believer in the Bahá’í Faith. For his upright character he was well respected by people of all walks of life. Anthony used to say there was one more reason why some residents of Malacca had special respect and fear for him of which Anthony often recalled with much amusement. The manifold areas of service that Anthony has rendered the Faith is a long chapter that cannot be adequately summarised here, for a summary would only do injustice.
While Anthony had a loud and commanding voice, yet he was the most loving and lovable person one could find. Throughout his life Anthony was an embodiment of these words of Bahá’u’lláh: “Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive.” He always had something nice, and only nice things to say about others. He never believed in backbiting. He was the first to give the fullest support and encouragement for any Bahá’í undertaking. His only sadness was when he saw the slow growth of the Faith or friends not arising when there was a call. Whenever he was hurt, he would suffer in silence, never raising his voice against anyone. He would never dream of meting out any injustice to others. He, together his wife Chan Suan Neo, believed in leaving everything in the hands of God when faced with injustice or tests. He believed fully in what Dr. Muhájir told him – to pray and leave everything in the hands of God and never to doubt God answering your prayers. Throughout his life, he adorned himself with the virtue of patience. He had lived a humble life yet was magnanimous in his generosity, and the care he showed for the needy and downtrodden was boundless, within his means. A downtrodden friend could always approach him to regain strength and carry on with life with greater optimism. His burning love for both Bahá’u’lláh and His glorious Cause was boundless. Anthony’s company invariably enhanced everyone’s spirit, as his discussion always centred on the Writings. When sought for any advice, his advice invariably came from the Writings.
In the evening of his life, when his wife had ascended before him on 9 August 2017, Anthony was plunged into utter loneliness. He recollected the days of their lives for 54 years, sharing joy and pain together. As Anthony would say, she was fully supportive of having a full Bahá’í family and placed her entire energy and time in bringing up their children in the Bahá’í way of life, giving them Bahá’í education and exposing them to Bahá’í children classes and activities. She was equally kind hearted and soft spoken. Throughout her life she loathed speaking ill of others. Whenever she was sad or hurt she took up the burden of her heart to her Creator in prayer. Back biting was one cancerous disease she avoided. She welcomed all with a radiant smile and provided the best hospitality. She was a supportive wife, a good mother, a great mother-in-law, a loving grandmother.
It was the company of such a fine human gem that Anthony missed forever. The loneliness Anthony faced following her death only kept increasing with the passing of other believers who had accepted the Faith in the early days. There were very few of his peers who were still alive. Among them Sathasivam and his wife would cook the favourite food of Louis and visited him often. Anthony sought consolation in prayer and reading the Holy Writings and stories of such heroes who have decorated the pages of history, and this served to keep his own spirit high. His children and grandchildren, as well as extended family would often visit to keep him company and he looked forward to being there for them. He jumped with joy at family unions.
When he loved a person he loved with all sincerity and his love was truly genuine. He was a very strong believer in the infinite power of prayers. Each day he would pray for himself and remember others facing tests and difficulties and having health problems. He had a long list of names of the departed for whom he would pray. Thus, his daily prayer sessions easily lasted an hour. It was in praying for them that he derived a great sense of happiness. He had well understood the meaning of one soul in different bodies.
Other than the Hands, he owed a debt of gratitude to Leong Tat Chee and Inbum who always had something to tell him. Leong Tat Chee was elected to the National Spiritual Assembly in 1964 and a few months later appointed Auxiliary Board member. Inbum Chinniah was on the National Spiritual Assembly from 1965 and in 1973 appointed Auxiliary Board member and in 1977 appointed to the Continental Board of Counsellors for South East Asia. Anthony valued the words of these two enlightened believers. Leong Tat Chee’s constant advice to Anthony was this – “In the Bahá’í Faith you give whatever you have, but do not take anything or expect anything. Bahá’u’lláh will give you what is good for you in His own good time. We must exert all our energies and move at the speed of rocket in order to win victories. Be calm and never be angry with anyone. Keep serving and keep moving.” Inbum’s famous words for Anthony Louis were, “For Bahá’u’lláh – one must slog till he drops. No thought of reward, not even thanks. Satisfaction is sacrificing your all for Bahá’u’lláh.” It was the company of angelic souls such as these that Anthony always cherished. His own constant advice to the younger generation was to always immerse in the Writings, read the history of the Faith, especially the lives of the heroes during the Heroic Age of the Faith, go out teaching and cherish unity as this was the magical formula in which he was nurtured in the Faith in the prime of his own youth. He was one who went through all the letters released by the Supreme Body. Anthony was never interested attachment to kingdoms of name or fame. He never sought prominence at any gatherings. It was by not demanding attention that he commanded a high sense of respect among those who knew him only too well.
Anthony and Suan Neo had four children – sons Leroy and Donovan and daughters Amelia and Sharmin. He recollected with thankfulness that his two daughters were married into the family of the illustrious Leong Tat Chee, the first Auxiliary Board member and one whom the Supreme Body called a “Sincere Promoter of the Cause.” When Counsellor Inbum Chinniah, who married Lily Leong Wye Heng, the eldest daughter of Leong Tat Chee passed away, Anthony felt very sad that he had lost a true friend, philosopher and guide. Just before lowering the body of Inbum at the burial ground in Seremban, it was observed that Inbum did not have a burial ring on his finger. Immediately Anthony Louis, who dearly loved and admired Inbum, gave his Bahá’í ring made of gold to be placed on Inbum’s finger. As he placed the ring, he said to himself “Let us be united forever in all the worlds of God.” A Bahá’í who later learnt of this kind gesture of Anthony Louis giving up his Bahá’í ring for Inbum, was so touched that he drove all the way to Malacca to give his own Bahá’í ring made of gold to Anthony Louis. That was the first gesture of that kind in the history of the Faith in Malaysia. Anthony’s prayer was to be united with Inbum in all the worlds of God. But the prayer was answered in this world itself. His eldest daughter Amelia married Nabil the eldest son of Inbum on 6 April 1996. Likewise, his second daughter Sharmin married Suresh Dharmalingam. The mother of Suresh is Mary Leong Wai Yoon, the fourth daughter of Leong Tat Chee on 22 February 1997. Both his sons-in-law are the grandchildren of Leong Tat Chee, his spiritual mentor. Anthony was also one of the pall bearers at the funerals of Leong Tat Chee who passed away in October 1972 and Inbum Chinniah who passed away on 5 February 1980. As for his bond with these two luminaries, Anthony used to say, “This is an act of divine providence.”
Anthony had only one aim in his life – to make Bahá’u’lláh the centre of his life and serve Him only to earn His good pleasure. At the Intercontinental Conference of 1958 held in Singapore he had volunteered to pioneer, but he could not fulfill his desire owing to domestic commitments. One day he poured out his heart’s to Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Muhájir who answered in plain language to this effect “You have offered yourself to pioneer and prayed about it. God has certainly heard your prayers. If the door does not open, then pioneering is not destined for you. But you can pray for the success of those who are already pioneering and concentrate in serving within the country.” That answer came as a great consolation for Anthony.
There was a time when an elderly believer approached Anthony and asked him, “Tell me, what have you done for the Faith?” Startled by this most unexpected question he replied with composure, “I do not keep record of what I have done for the Faith. Only Bahá’u’lláh knows what I have done for the Faith. When you and I reach the next world we will know where both of us stand in the eyes of Bahá’u’lláh”. This spontaneous answer stemmed from the advice that his mentor Leong Tat Chee had given him, “When you serve the Cause, do not expect name or fame. You serve only to make Bahá’u’lláh happy.” Yet having been in the Faith in Malacca from 1957, Anthony had an elephant memory of most of the happenings in that state that S. Satanam of Seremban used to say that whatever historical statement that Anthony gave should not be contested. Anthony was a treasure trove of information. He was a witness to most of the happenings in Malacca state. He also had an autograph book in which contained autographs with dates from visitors to Malacca from the early days. Anthony took his autograph book to all the conferences he attended in Malaya and Singapore from early 1958, starting with the fireside he attended in March 1958 in Penang. When he attended the Intercontinental Conference in Singapore in 1958, several Hands of the Cause of God and pioneers signed his autograph book.
On a personal note, he was the author’s strongest supporter in his writing pursuits and this author dedicated his book “DAWNINGS – An Account of the Bahá’í Faith in the state of Malacca” to Anthony and two others – S. Bhaskaran and S. Satanam. Anthony had a great liking for local history. Having attained the presence of several hands of the Cause of God, he was all very keen to see the author’s latest book ‘DIFFUSERS OF DIVINE FRAGRANCES – An Account of the Hands of the Cause of God Who Visited Malaysia’. Over the last year, he was rushing the author to publish that book before he closed his eyes as his last wish was to view the book. The book came out as he desired, and two weeks later his precious soul winged its flight to be with his Creator. It is anyone’s guess that he had some kind of premonition that his days were coming to a close.
This book was published during his lifetime as he had desired.
Thus ended a well-lived life of a God-intoxicated believer. This star servant of God belonged to an era of his own. With his passing away, there is now left behind only a handful of believers who had accepted the Faith during the Ten Year Crusade period (1957 to 1963). His life and legacy forever form a memorable place in the history of the Faith in this country.
We can be certain that his enlightened soul is blissfully rejoicing in the company of the angelic souls that have ascended before him, in particular his cherished wife Chan Suan Neo, and harvesting bountifully the rewards he has earned for his relentless services rendered with all so much love, dedication, and sincerity to the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh during his 66 years of Bahá’í life on this earthly plane.
O my God, Thy Trust hath been returned unto Thee. It behooveth Thy grace and Thy bounty that have compassed Thy dominions on earth and in heaven, to vouchsafe unto Thy newly welcomed one Thy gifts and Thy bestowals, and the fruits of the tree of Thy grace!
30 November 2023