At a time when global, unfortunately, Malaysian politics too, are wracked with unnecessary polemics, even vitriol, the passing of Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub, who to many could be referred to as Pakcik Salahuddin (although we called each other bro), is a timely reminder of what decency, kindness and thoughtfulness can all mean.
For the lack of better word, Allaryaham Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub personified all the best qualities above. And, more.
While Masyarakat Madani, otherwise translated as enlightened society in various vernaculars in Malaysia, was the leading theme of the country between January and June 2023, it was Salahuddin Ayub — whose staunch belief in sheer compassion to defuse the rising cost of food, fuel, fertilizers and animal feed triggered by external events such as the Pan-Slavic War between Ukraine and Russia from February 24 2022 — that spurred the Rahmah Initiative.
The Rahmah menu, where food of all varieties coupled with a simple drink can be had with less than RM 5, spawned many entrepreneurs, no doubt inspired by the fine example of Salahuddin Ayub, the Minister of Domestic Cost of Living, to come up with various Rahmah Initiatives too.
That, in more ways than one, gave Masyarakat Madani a strong and powerful traction. That the new administration or the Unity Government was not one to trifle with.
The super majority of two-thirds gained through the assiduous efforts of various component parties to form a Grand Coalition, as decreed by His Majesty King Abdullah II, was something worthy of the best spirit of Malaysia and all cultures.
To those who have had the privilege of tending to and working with Salahuddin Ayub, whether he was the Minister of Agriculture or the Minister of Domestic Cost of Living, there is definitely a genteel and gentle aura that always stayed with Allaryaham Salahuddin Ayub.
Even his top officers — foremost of whom was Sabky, now the Chair of the Registry of Companies (SSM) — often ooze calm and balmy feelings of sheer conscientiousness.
That was the spirit that Salahuddin Ayub brought into two of the highest ministries in Malaysia.
In Parliament hansards or that of the state assembly in Johor, the state that Salahuddin Ayub hailed from, no one will find any terse or coarse use of any language. None.
Gone too soon, Salahuddin Ayub will be remembered for all the great things he did for the nation with no pomp or grandeur.
Salahuddin Ayub is always on the pulse of the nation and on the issues.
Former Malaysian Ambassador to China Datuk Raja Nurshiwan, now the Director-General of the National Security Council (NSC) of Malaysia, has all but the best things to say about Allaryaham Salahuddin Ayub.
When tasked to promote the “Musang King” durian in China, Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub kept his mind focused on ensuring that Malaysia’s King of Fruits would enjoy the best appeal and promotion, indeed, protection of China, even locally.
When Salahuddin Ayub was helming the Ministry of Agriculture, he concurred with Emir Research on the importance of pursuing a holistic food security policy, and had many constructive engagements prior to the fall of the PH government due to the Sheraton Move.
Salahuddin Ayub fully subscribed to the five core thrusts that are very important for the people: mitigating the costs of living; affordable and quality healthcare; affordable and quality education; dignified employment; and affordable and quality housing. Hence his many Rahmah Initiatives that benefit many.
More remarkably, Salahuddin once went on air on TV1 soon after the historic victory of May 9, 2018 election, and read out loud that he remained the same and would be accessible to all with or without power.
Indeed, that is indeed the same numbers to this very day. And, he did answer all his messages, as did his officers.
Malaysia does not just lose a fine Malay gentleman of the highest pedigree, but a Malaysian minister of the ultimate pedigree.
Salahuddin Ayub’s mother was a Chinese married to a Johorean and she chose to be true to her life and creed, in turn raising the best son Salahuddin Ayub, whom Allah SWT has loved more by recalling him on July 23, 2023.
Yes, few good men left in politics of rahmah. Gone too soon, Salahuddin Ayub will be remembered for all the great things he did for the nation with no pomp or grandeur. Al Fatihah.
(Dr. Rais Hussin is the president and chief executive officer of EMIR Research, a think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.)