QUESTION: As a daughter, what is your personal view of your father, Royal Professor Ungku Aziz, who has contributed greatly to the country, especially in the establishment of Tabung Haji and Angkasa, as well as in raising the social standing of the Malays?
Answer: His mind. He has a great mind. He developed thinking on a wide range of subject matters. While his contributions are many, he devoted his entire life to contributing in making a difference in two main areas. He developed thinking on issues relating to poverty and economic development. His work in this area started in the 1950s. It drew attention to the need for addressing poverty and economic development. In the area of education, he was with University Malaya for 40 years, of which for more than 20 years, he continued to educate whilst managing the university as the vice-chancellor. It produced the graduates that have contributed to managing Malaysia's golden years. He contributed in making a major difference.
Guests, including . Royal Professor Ungku Aziz Ungku Abdul Hamid (right), greeting Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah (left) at the royal tea party in conjunction with the king’s birthday, on June 7, 1972.
Question: Can you share with us how you were raised? Was he strict or someone with strong sense of humour?
Answer: My father always encouraged me to read. He would always give me books throughout my life. He was also strict about time management for different activities during the day, especially in allocating time for meals and time for studying and time to have sufficient sleep. His own life is highly disciplined. He is usually calm and very rarely loses his temper. To this day, he is highly astute and has a great sense of humour.
Question: Did he play an important role and have strong influence in your career and accomplishments?
Answer: My father encouraged me to gain knowledge and become highly authoritative on the subject that was of interest to me. He never tried to make me follow a specific career path. His approach was to best prepare me so that I would make the right choices. He did, however, have me study mathematics all the way to the university because he said whatever was my chosen field, mathematics would be important.
Question: Can you describe any memorable moments with Royal Professor Ungku Aziz?
Answer: There were different moments in both our lives, which were turning points, some of which had significant effect on us. We spent time discussing these developments. We very much valued each other's thinking on these occasions. I will always remember these times.
Question: Is there any word of advice from your father that you remember and uphold until today?
Answer: Fortify oneself with accumulation of knowledge. Develop thinking skills. Always aim to excel and not be distracted by the need to accumulate wealth or power. Always stay true to the important values.
Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz NST Opinion Columnist 28/01/2014