Wednesday 16 January 2013
I shared the sad news of Colin Bickler’s death with my good friend David Ong who worked for Reuters from 1978 to 1985 and was regional accountant for East Africa, based in Nairobi, when Colin was manager there and I was chief correspondent.
David replied that he “especially recalled the kindness” which Colin and his wife Shirley showed to his family and to himself at the time of an unexpected, and very bloody (900 killed), attempted military coup on 1 August 1982 in a country that had until then been one of the most stable on the continent.
David and his wife Christine are of Chinese origin and were born in Malaysia. David was recruited by Reuters in London where they had settled only a few years earlier.
“It was our first overseas assignment. We arrived in Kenya in March 1982 - a country with a very different culture, and with two very young children (Jessica 2.5 years and Simon 13 months).
“Colin and Shirley helped us to settle in comfortably in our new ‘home’ with care and kind assistance.
“When the attempted coup happened, Colin approved a leave to Kuala Lumpur for Christine and the children so that she could visit her very ill mother, as well as to be away from the trauma of the failed coup. Christine was quite shaken by the gunfire, explosions and military roadblocks and searches which were maintained, together with a night curfew for weeks afterwards.
“I feel sad that we, being busy bringing up two young children after later returning to London, did not keep in contact with the Bicklers. We think of Colin at this sad time with love and fond memories.”
David and Christine Ong now reside in Kuala Lumpur (where Colin was once chief correspondent).
David retired from the Lear Automotive Corporation in July 2012 after a last seven-year assignment as controller and director of Learning & Development, Asia, based in Shanghai. ■