February 16, 2006
Eager beaver, but first things first
By CHOW HOW BAN
NEWLY appointed Federal Territories Minister Datuk Zulhasnan Rafique
does not want to talk about his plans for Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and
Labuan until he meets the Prime Minister today. Such a calm and cautious
person is he.
During an interview at his house in Taman Setiawangsa, Kuala Lumpur,
last night, the 51-year-old businessman-turned politician demonstrated
his eagerness to start work as a full minister, but at the same time he
showed respect for his boss.
“Let me see the Prime Minister first. I want to listen to his
advice and what he wants me to concentrate on in the federal territories.
“At the moment, I do not want to talk too much. I have a lot
of ideas which hopefully can be applied but I want to reserve
these ideas first until I meet the Prime Minister.”
When asked about his capabilities, he said modestly that his
comments about the new job would be sufficient for the first
interview following the announcement of the new Cabinet by Datuk
Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Tuesday.
Zulhasnan was appointed Deputy Federal Territories Minister
in March 2004 before his promotion. He is also Setiawangsa MP,
Federal Territory Umno deputy liaison chief and Commonwealth of
Parliamentary Association Malaysia deputy chairman.
The KL boy had his early education in La Salle High School in
Petaling Jaya, then at theVictoria Institution in Kuala
Lumpur. He joined the Royal Malaysian Air Force as a fighter pilot
in 1972 and retired in 1985 with the rank of major.
After his retirement from the air force, Zulhasnan ventured into
business and served as managing director and executive chairman of
Seri Meraga Consolidated Sdn Bhd.
He then joined politics in 1995 and was selected as the candidate
for the 1999 general election for the Wangsa Maju constituency. The
constituency was then divided into Setiawangsa and Wangsa Maju in
2004 before the last election.
His wife, Datin Siti Nooriah Ana Razak, has good words of the
Zulhasnan getting his mother Sabariah Mohd Yusof's blessings when she
visited the new FT Minister at his home in Taman Setiawangsa upon
receiving the good news.
“What is most obvious to me is that he is a caring husband and
father,” she said. “He is concerned about everything in the family.
At work, he is honest and treats his work as a great responsibility.
“He is also very hardworking and I think he has brought his
discipline from the air force to his work,” she added.
Siti Nooriah said her husband was a punctual person and he
would nag and wait for her when going anywhere.
“If he were to officiate a function, he will wait for others
and not the other way round. Say, if a programme starts at 8.30pm,
he will wait inside his car by the roadside at 8pm,” she said.
Siti Nooriah said she was initially worried that Zulhasnan would
not find time for the family when he joined politics, but his good
traits prevented him from drifting from his family.
“Sometimes when he has programmes, he will bring us along,”
Most people are not aware that Zulhasnan, the second of six siblings,
is a sportsman who is into rugby, badminton, football, swimming, horse riding
“I am now active in polo while my children do horse riding and show jumping.
Whenever I have free time, I will jog in Setiawangsa every morning and evening.
“If I have functions or meetings in the city, I will change into my sportswear
and go jogging at Lake Gardens or work out at a gym in the city,” he said.
His wife said: “Datuk likes polo while my daughter loves show jumping or
equestrian and takes part in competitions. I like only casual horse riding.''
The couple have three children – Syazna Leana, 18, Syaira Leena, 15 and
Muhammad Suhail, 11 – and they have been living in Taman Setiawangsa since 1991.
When asked about the coincidence of the news of his appointment with
Valentine’s Day, Zulhasnan laughed: “This is a good Valentine’s Day gift for my
wife, me and my family. Coincidentally, my wife’s birthday is Feb 23 and our
wedding anniversary is in March.”
On his fast emergence in the political scene, he laughed again: “Really?
I think there are people who emerged faster than I did ? Actually, it was very
systematic: I worked in the Backbenchers’ Club for four-and-a-half years and
as the deputy chairman of Public Accounts Committee before joining the Government.
“After that, I also went stage by stage and was promoted from Deputy
Federal Territories Minister. Maybe there was an opportunity – the seat was
left empty – I don’t know.”
He said he would not have problems suiting himself to the post as he
had already been addressing issues in the federal territories as a Member of
Parliament and deputy minister.
Newly appointed Federal Territories Minister Datuk Zulhasnan Rafique (centre)
meeting his mother Sabariah Mohd Yusof at his home in Taman Setiawangsa, Kuala
Lumpur. With them are his wife Datin Siti Nooriah Ana Razak, children, sisters-in-law,
nephews and brothers
When he saw the announcement on the appointment on television, the first
person Zulhasnan called was his mother and he saw her at her house in Taman
Tun Dr Ismail.
“My mother was ecstatic and advised me to carry out my duties with
integrity and responsibility,'' he said.
Asked about his pairing with his deputy Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusop, he said he already knew the former Internal Security Ministry parliamentary
secretary during their time as backbenchers during the previous term.
“We went to the United Nations for a month and I found him to be a
hardworking and dedicated person. In my opinion, we will not have problems
working together in the ministry,” he said, adding that he would retain his
offices at three of the federal territories to meet people and attend meetings
in the respective areas.
Zulhasnan had been waiting for the promotion and there was talk that
he would be a possible candidate to replace Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad as
the FT Minister last October. But the Prime Minister appointed Datuk Seri
Shahrizat Abdul Jalil as acting minister instead.
“At that time, I believed that the Prime Minister had his own reasons to
appoint an acting minister. As a party and Cabinet member, I just worked
as usual and supported his decision at that time and now.”