Family, friends remember first Malaysian Airlines MD Abdul Aziz’s passion for work and law

Pall bearers carry Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman’s casket after prayers at Masjid Saidina Umar in Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur January 23, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Pall bearers carry Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman’s casket after prayers at Masjid Saidina Umar in Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur January 23, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 — To his family, the late Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman will always be remembered as a dedicated legal practitioner who led a life governed by honour and principles.

Known most for his contributions in shaping Malaysia Airlines into the country’s proud flag carrier during his time as its managing director, he embodied all the admirable qualities of a diligent corporate figure, according to granddaughter Liyana Khairul Azman.

Often described as mild-mannered and polite, she said Abdul Aziz had treated others around him with the utmost respect and consideration, possibly why he remained respected and admired during his life.

“He is very passionate, very honest, very noble, admirable. Not easy to find somebody like him, especially nowadays in politics and the corporate world. He was one of a kind.

“He embodied all the admired characteristics and people respect him not because he was stern, he was not like that.

“He is respected because he respects people. He treated people with kindness, with love and with affection," she told the press when met at the Saidina Umar Mosque in Bukit Damansara during Abdul Aziz's funeral.

Liyana also said her grandfather had also been fervent about the law and described the legal profession as his first love.

As a lawyer, Abdul Aziz was instrumental in drawing up legislation under the National Operations Council following the racial riots in 1969, such as the Carriage by Air Act of 1974 and a slew of other civil aviation regulations.

Abdul Aziz was appointed as Malaysia Airlines MD in 1982 before retiring in 1991. Prior to his appointment as MD, he was the company’s secretary/legal affairs director when he joined up Malaysia Airlines 1971.

When Abdul Aziz left Malaysia Airlines, it had a healthy RM5 billion in cash reserves.

Abdul Aziz, who had been suffering from oesophagus cancer, died last night at the age of 87, while at the Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur hospital in Ampang.

His body was brought to the Bukit Kiara Muslim cemetery and buried this afternoon.

To his friends, Abdul Aziz had been a strong advocate of civil liberties and transparency in local government.

He had been an active member of civil society groups, most recently as the chairman of the Save Kuala Lumpur Coalition (SKL) that took the Kuala Lumpur City Hall to task on the sustainability of its town planning, among others.

SKL deputy chairman Datuk Mumtaz Ali, who attended the funeral to pay his last respects, said Abdul Aziz’ and his contributions will be deeply missed.

“We are going to miss a great committed person who has been involved with many contributions at the national level - from civil service to corporate service and ending up with community-society oriented service.

“Although I did not have much direct interaction with Allahyarham during his earlier days but have been closely associated with him from 2008/2009 when the DKLCP 2020 was put into action by Kuala Lumpur City Hall,” said Mumtaz, referring to the Draft KL City Plan 2020 (DKLCP 2020)

“We have gone through many stormy sessions with the residential stakeholders besides the rough engagements with the authorities. Allahyarham [Abdul Aziz] has always been focussed on the issues and as his Deputy at Selamatkan Kuala Lumpur-SKL, been in close contact with him. As he was (pioneer) involved from the early days in civil service, had actively handled the drafting of many Acts for tabling at Parliament from the era of our late PM, Tun Abdul Razak.

“He made great contributions for SKL with his erstwhile inputs and leadership. May God Almighty places him amongst the gifted in the right place,” added Ali

Activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, who was also at the funeral, lauded Abdul Aziz for his contribution to Malaysia Airlines and the country.

“He had contributed much to Malaysia Airlines and civil aviation here. During his tenure as MD, he had really performed to the extent that even today, the people in Malaysia Airlines still respect him for his immense contribution,” he said.

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