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THE AZIZAN I KNEW.docx

THE AZIZAN I KNEW.docx

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Published by egahmulia
by Tun Daim Zainuddin
by Tun Daim Zainuddin

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Published by: egahmulia on Oct 27, 2013
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The Azizan I knew
By Tun Daim ZainuddinFormer Kedah menteri besar Tan Sri Azizan Abdul Razak was humble, knowledgeable,humorous and honest.
BIG LOSS
: Azizan was a true man of the people
WHEN Pas won the Kedah state election, I wanted to go and pay a courtesy callon the new menteri besar, Ustaz Azizan. I knew that he needed to settle downand so, after a few months, I requested for an appointment to see him.The response was swift. I was invited to dinner at his official residence. Thatwas the first time I met (Tan Sri) Azizan Abdul Razak.A warm friendly person who charmed you with jokes to make your firstmeeting comfortable and relaxed. After a few minutes, he invited me to adjourn tothe dining room to join him for dinner.He said he had ordered mee Abu, mee goreng, popiah and, for dessert,durian and dadih. He said he had asked his secretary to ask my secretary what Inormally ate and got the list from my secretary. And later, he served hot water.He had done his homework on me.I enjoyed my first meeting with him. I found him to be humble,knowledgeable and humorous.
 
Since that first meeting, every time I was in Kedah, I would meet him fordinner, where I'd be served my favourite mee Abu and popiah.Soon enough, he started discussing the problems he was facing as an MB.He had kind words for everybody and never ran down anyone. He said itwas tough running the state as revenue was low and expenditures kept going up.I told him as long as the country wanted Kedah to be the rice bowl ofMalaysia, Kedah would have to continue asking the Federal Government for helpand that would have to change.We are a high-cost producer of rice. When I was in government, I hadsuggested we import rice and release our padi fields for more productive use. Heagreed with me but he said we needed support from the Federal Government tochange all that.We continued to meet regularly, either in Alor Star or Kuala Lumpur. He wasat a loss to meet the conflicting demands from many quarters. It was a realheadache to him trying to be fair but firm. He made himself unpopular with somepeople but the rakyat liked his style. He was a man of the people.Although he was under pressure from his party, he was adamant that hewas MB for all Kedahans. He would entertain all. He was privately, and laterpublicly, attacked by his coalition partners in Pakatan but he stuck to hisprinciples, which, as in politics, he had to toe the party line, provided it did notconflict with his principles which he strongly held on to and at the end, he said hewas answerable to Allah. This, he was not prepared to compromise.When I got news that some in the state assembly wanted to switch camps, Ialerted him. I told him after what happened in Perak, I don't think BarisanNasional is keen to participate in this kind of politics. The rakyat would be angryand all must accept the results of the general election and move on.(Datuk Seri) Anwar (Ibrahim) tried and failed and the rakyat does not trustany government formed this way. His response was: I am here temporarilyanyway, let us leave it to God, but we tie our camels first.Then, later, there were attempts to topple him. He was not worried, he wasnot overconfident but prepared. He faced these challenges his way, in public,cracking jokes but privately, prepared for the worst. In the end, he triumphed.He asked me to arrange for him to meet former prime minister Tun DrMahathir (Mohamad), which I did. They got along fine. He got on well with PrimeMinister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, too.He told me he was hauled up by Pas and asked to explain why he wasclose to the PM, Dr Mahathir and me. He explained to them that he knew Najib's
 
brother, Johari, when they were studying law in London. In the case of Dr M andme, he said he wanted to tap into our experience and he knew that we wantedthe best for Kedah and would support him for the greater good of Kedah. Theyaccepted his explanation.He had good ideas for Kedah. He wanted to reclaim the coastal area ofKuala Kedah and build a new city. He asked me to get developers to do it andnow, it is still being studied.He went to Egypt to study how they succeeded in agriculture production onhuge desert lands and made them fertile. He wanted to reproduce it in Kedah. Hewanted to build a few more housing estates as he wanted to build affordablehouses costing below RM200,000.He had asked his office to conduct a study on the problem and how muchthe middle class could afford. All these were in the planning.Azizan discussed with me whether to extend the LADA (LangkawiDevelopment Authority Act). I explained to him why Dr Mahathir wanted the act,and since then Langkawi had become well known as a tourist destination. Hesaid he was under pressure not to renew it, but he renewed it.Azizan had to make difficult decisions but he did what was right for Kedah.He introduced new policies where timber concessions were tendered out and thisincreased revenue. The value was higher, too, and he could then reduce the sizeof the concessions because of certain people.He wanted to bring the Rubber Research Institute (RRI) to Kedah and wasprepared to find and give land for such purpose.My suggestion was the state government should exchange land with RRIand the Kedah government develop the RRI land, and keep it as a long-terminvestment so the government could get income from this.He wanted to have an oil depot and refinery in Yan. He received manyproposals but he got the impression investors might be more keen to have landthan the real project. He wanted the train and highway to be continued to Yan tobring development to this coastal town.On corruption, he was fed up with businessmen, who tried to bribe him. Hekept instructing his secretary to return money offered to him. When they failed atthe office, they sent money to his house.He asked me what to do with thick-skinned people like these. My advicewas to send the money to orphanages and get receipts for the donations given.He thanked me for the advice.

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