January 28, 2014 recently, was Royal Professor Ungku A Aziz's 92nd birthday. Happy birthday Pak Ungku (as he is fondly known to most Malaysians). Many have made remarks or commented about him in the mainstream media. Including from Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz former Minister (who was once a lecturer at Universiti Malaya) and from his daughter, Tan Sri Zeti (the current Central Bank of Malaysia Governor).
I had the privilege of working with him from 1986-1988, when I was general manager of the University of Malaya Cooperative Limited. He was chairman then, my boss. The late Datuk Professor Mohd Yunus Noor was Deputy Chairman and Associate Professor Mohd Said Kadis was Secretary.
I remember the first day I reported for work and Pak Ungku said 'Encik Khaeruddin, welcome to the University. You are one of the 10 most important people at this University' (which I later soon found out what he meant..hahaha). I know my boss quite well, so when during his birthday and the comments he made in the papers haha why am I not surprised at all. He is very Japanese in many ways, despite being born in London. Much like a Shogun, his management style hehe. So, if you are a Samurai, and if you make a mistake or defy the sacred creed, you know laaa what Samurais need to do... hehehe. I am quite familiar with his diet and how he takes care of his wellbeing. He jogs and swims regularly. I think the whole nation knows that haha. He eats often when we have guests, at Rumah Universiti. Rumah Universiti (or the University House, was then managed by us, UMCoop). So we know what he likes to eat, the do's and dont's.
He is the longest reigning Vice Chancellor of the University of Malaya and knows every tree that is planted all around the campus. The Pejabat Hartanah then, better check with the Shogun first, before cutting down any tree ok.
I still remember when in 1988 I was summoned by Aishah (his PA) to his office and had to wait no less than 3 hours before I could get an audience with him. I have to to take my turn as there were already plenty of professors queuing up for their turn haha. Then, when I finally got to see him, he said to me 'I just came back from seeing Anwar. Don't believe what you hear or read. In two weeks time, I will have to leave this wonderful job.' Pak Ungku loved his job, the university and the cooperative movement. It was his passion.
One of the things I had the opportunity of doing, when I served him, was preparing the by-laws of the Federation of University Coops based on the Japanese Federation of University Coops model. The by-laws, I believe, are still being used in the Federation of Malaysian University Coops. Happy Birthday Pak Ungku. May you live way past beyond a hundred...