Thursday, September 27, 2007

My personal experience with Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohd. Ali

I would like to take this opportunity to record my admiration of Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohd. Ali. She has been by the bedside of her husband of 51 years, former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad since almost four weeks ago in IJN and has not left since. Her sheer dedication to see her husband recuperate is nothing short of amazing.

Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohd. Ali is definitely a remarkable and exemplary woman. As the wife of then the Prime Minister, she devoted herself to support her husband for a good 22 1/2 years of service.

She did so much as the "First Lady".

This is a story about my personal experience with Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohd. Ali.

A few days before Hari Raya Year 2000. We had been busy organising some stuff to be taken with Dato' Mukhriz Mahathir to Ambon for his first ever humanitarian mission, things like instant food (which I managed to arrange for one ton of tepung adabi), medical supplies, clothing etc etc etc.

So it was on a Saturday and they were supposed to leave from TUDM Subang with an RMAF C 130H to Ambon, via TUDM Labuan. The rendezvous was 0700hrs at point Zulu.

Obviously, being my usual self, (DEFNITELY NOT a morning person!), I overslept. So I missed the send off event. Friends told me at least 500-600 friends and family were at the airbase to send of these young men with their supplies to a grief stricken place caused by religious unrest.

Three days later they came back. Then Hari Raya Aidil Fitri came, like any other completion of Ramadhan. Like any other first day of Syawal, the Prime Minister will host an openhouse for the public. So for the first day Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, it was reported in the media that at least 60, 000 well wishers were at Seri Perdana, Putrajaya to wish the First Couple good tidings and enjoyed free food.

My invitation to Seri Perdana then was usually on the second day, where members of the diplomatic corp, Cabinet Ministers, politicians and their families, senior civil servants and some corporate leaders assembled at the Banquet Hall to spend Hari Raya with the Mahathirs. An average crowd of 600 was the usual suspect.

So, conveniently on my way back to Johor Bahru, I'd stop over to wish the Mahathirs and after a sumptuous meal of variety of food one would get at any usual Dr. Mahathir openhouse, we'd speed off down south, when traffic is usually much lesser. That fateful second day Hari Raya will always be fresh in my memory. The moment I walked through the doors of the Banquet Hall primmed in my red Baju Melayu Johor full suit, I caught the First Couple were standing by the door and we immediately approach to greet them.

The moment I bend down to salam and kiss Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah's hand, she uttered "Big Guy, where were you on Saturday? How come you were not there to send Mukhriz off?" Gawd! She noticed. Between that moment and Mukhriz left five days earlier, she must have seen over 60,000 faces, carved that amazing smile and shook their hands. I thought to myself "How on earth could she notice I was not there????".

Stupid but recklessly, I had to ask "Datin Seri, you noticed I was not at Subang?"

"Of course! Why were you not there?"

Embarrassed being bush-whacked, I had to lie "Datin Seri, I was not too well that weekend".

"Are you feeling much better now?" She genuinely cared.

"Yes, thanks"

And I quickly moved away. My wife turned to me and said it with her sharp stare instead of the mouth "You lied to her! That's low!".

"Please, bad enough I missed the send off! Don't make it worse for me now...." I pleaded.

She instantly replied "I did not say anything" and carved a diabolical smile.

Of course my wife knew I felt bad because I lied to Datin Seri Dr. Siti Hasmah when bush-whacked like that. I will always remember that!

Moral of the story, Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohd. Ali is a very observant woman and she, like her husband, gets nothing passed her by simply.


Zawi said...

Agreed fully of the greatness of Tun Dr Siti Hasmah.
Her ability to notice your absence was helped by your peculiar big-boy size which can be noticeably missed in any crowd. I am not poking fun at you but just ribbling you abit. No offence meant.
Selamat berpuasa Big-Man.

Zakhir's Zoo said...


No offence taken.

Yes, I know I am noticeable. BUT I never thought that she could place my face and association instantly when I met her. Afterall, she met ten of thousands of people between Mukhriz send off and the second Hari Raya.

How could she noticed that I was not there that Saturday morning???

Selamat Berpuasa to you too and thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said...

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Siti Hajar said...

Very nostalgic memory, we miss such the First lady character though...

This article may compliment your memory and from it I found you blog..

Thanks so much for the recount, it confirms DRMAZA's experience

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