In the old days, the mentoring system was very much in operation. I was lucky, when I joined the civil service I met Tan Sri Taib my first mentor. The second influential person in my life I me when I worked in Penang. He was the State Secretary, Dato Abu Hassan. These two gentlemen really helped me.
Tan Sri Taib was excellent at delegation, and when the delegatee does well, he will give more work because he had confidence in you. My biggest lesson from him was learning to empower your subordinates. He never micro managed. He trusted his people. This motivated me to deliver, because I felt I could not betray his trust.
When Tan Sri Taib passed away I felt that I had lost a great friend who was at once a superior, a colleague and most of all, a mentor. I could never forget the role he played in my life. He was always very kind and supported me in any way he could. The family and I owed him a lot.
He always sponsored and supported me and had only good things to say about me. He tried to get me senior positions in companies where he was involved and he also took the trouble to place me on a number of boards where he served as a member and in some cases made me succeed him as chairman of the company.
He was also very kind to me. He even offered me some of his own Sharikat Hadapan shares when he was the chairman of the company and insisted that I accept the offer without payment. He took the trouble to persuade my wife to apply for shares that were allocated to Bumiputeras by the government. His kindness extended to family members as well. I remember when I took my son Zakri to see him before Zakri left for his studies in the UK, he offered his old overcoat that he used when he was a student. During Hari Raya when we visited him, normally quite late due to other commitments, he always kept aside some treats for the children. He was indeed very thoughtful and kind and so were the members of his family who were always very courteous.
With Dato Abu Hassan, he was also very involved with us. He was able to build teams and was an excellent team leader. At the time Rozhan, Thilagadurai, Jegathesan and Manaf were also in Penang and Dato Abu Hassan was able to build us into a solid team. We moved together. He was very honest, dedicated and hardworking and as a result, it was a very good working experience for me. He was at the time very outspoken and expressed his views. He was not a ‘yes’ man. I admired him for his ability to do this. When I was away at the Public Administration course, his wife took care of Hafsah who was pregnant with our first child. These were the lessons I obtained, and it had a contagion effect on me, and I wanted to impart this and treat others well.