4th Oct 2012

Yasmin's Last Words To Us

Midway through a wonderful presentation to clients on the 23rd of July 2009, Yasmin said, "I don't feel well", then laid her head on the table, and lost consciousness until she passed away peacefully on the 25th of July 2009.

Yasmin's Last Words To Us

At 8pm on the Tuesday night before she died, Yasmin called whoever was still working in the office to come to the Leo Burnett amphitheatre.

In the quiet of that night, she told us things beautifully prophetic. She asked those present what they want to learn from her. Naturally most people said they wanted to learn how to make good TV commercials and movies. Her answer to that? "I can't show you how to do it. But I can point you in the right direction".

Then she played us her Petronas Merdeka TV commercial 'Tan Hong Ming' (which won numerous awards including Cannes Gold) and said, "I didn't do this commercial."

"God did it."

"Doesn't matter whether you call it the Tao, Allah, or God, God is One. Be open to this Higher Power, and each one of us can be a channel."

She explained how she had initially thought that she was done with shooting Tan Hong Ming who said his best friend is a boy who wears a songkok (a headgear often worn by Malaysian Muslims). But Tan Hong Ming kept pestering her, pulling at her baju kurung and saying strange things like "I'm a vegetarian". So she kindly humoured the 7-year-old, putting the camera on him and asking, "Do you have a girlfriend?" And that's when the magic just flowed.

Nothing was scripted. It was all real. It was just an innocent little child, speaking from the heart. And when Ummi Qasrina came by, her heart echoed these same pure thoughts. All the team had to do was keep the camera rolling. "Only God can do things like that." said Yasmin.

Then Yasmin took us through another Petronas TV commercial which was not written by her, but by Ng Choo Seong. She reminded us that Nisha Khiruddin wrote one of the most loved and most insightful Petronas Chinese New Year commercials. That one of our most junior staff, a visualiser, Ken Wong Woon Kian, affectionately known as "Ayam" to her, did three TV commercials in just three years of his career with Leo Burnett. That Christie Herman, a Christian, did what's probably the most watched Petronas TV commercial for the Hindu festival of lights, "The Boys in the Hood". That we can go through the entire list of Petronas TV commercials, and realize that many were not written by her, but by each of us in the office. And that we can continue doing so.

"To tap in to this kind of inspiration," said Yasmin that Tuesday night, "we just need to open our hearts and humble ourselves to the One", she repeated "doesn't matter whether you call it The Tao, Allah or God".

Then, Yasmin literally demonstrated how she humbles herself five times a day - on the very floor of the Leo Burnett amphitheatre - standing, bowing, kneeling, prostrating. "At every point, I become smaller, smaller and smaller" she said, "reminding myself that I am nothing." "And God, everything." On that very night, she also reminded us that "Energy cannot be destroyed. It just takes on different forms." She said we "should not have a guru. Because, even if one is a very good imitator, at best one will be limited to being a poor imitation of the guru." She directed us to God, "upon Whom there are no limits."

Yasmin didn't leave Leo Burnett Kuala Lumpur in the lurch when she died. She handed us over to God. Upon Whom she always counted on for inspiration. Unto Whom she has now returned.