Razak on being a minister: Just carry on as usual - Abdullah Ahmad

29 June 1997

These two things I know for sure will happen to me: death and politics will bedevil me till I meet my Maker. However, I shall not now allow it since I did not permit politics even in my heyday to interfere with my pursuit of happiness. By that I mean to fall in love, to enjoy friends, to read and write, to travel, to play games, and bounce the baby!

Of course, the main job of politicians is to serve the rakyat (people), the nation, and not themselves.

Once upon a time, not quite a long time ago, I was quite a busy man. Despite that I managed, quite well in fact, to reconcile my private life and political commitments.

I was at the Kuala Lumpur Maternity Hospital to hold my wife's hands when our first child was born on Nov 28th, 1969. Adhha is now 27 and will marry next month. Most of my classmates have long ago become grandfathers. I was not at the hospital when my daughter Didi came into the world in mid-morning on Feb 16, 1971 because I was ill after returning from the Haj, pilgrimage to Mecca, two days before her arrival.

I am not ashamed to say I was also not at the hospital when Fuad's turn came on Sept 5 in 1974. I was in Sabah accompanying the then Vice President of Umno, Encik Ghaffar Baba (now Tun) on an important political mission. We were ordered back to Kuala Lumpur almost as soon as we arrived in Labuan.

Ghaffar and I were separately rushed to Istana Negara, for the swearing-in ceremony, he as Minister of Agriculture and I as the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department. I became the only Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's office until the late Datuk Seri Kamaruddin Isa was sworn in as the second Deputy Minister taking over from me the religious portfolio several months later.

There was no minister - only us and the Prime Minister! It was a good time. We accomplished a lot. However, Tunku Abdul Rahman complained in one of his books that it was a heady period for me. Years later we became good friends, I explained and he accepted my clarification.

When we disembarked at the Royal Malaysian Air Force Base in Sungai Besi, I had to make a quick decision either to rush home and then to Istana Negara or go to the hospital. A waiting aide told me my wife Fauzah had been rushed to the maternity hospital an hour before. I decided not to upset the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Tun Razak, the Prime Minister.

As soon as the group photograph session was over, I rushed to the hospital to see my wife and my youngest son. I am proud to record here that all my three children were born at the Kuala Lumpur Maternity Hospital, then an excellent hospital. I do hope it still is.

Fauzah was understanding, but my intensely private wife was not overjoyed about the appointment though she was happy for me.