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Zeti and her mother

  • Zeti: When I learned of all the things she did in the past, and how she served the community and influenced the lives of many people, I found myself suddenly grow up overnight. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • Zeti with her parents and grandmother at her convocation.

KUALA LUMPUR (Sin Chew Daily) -- Behind a successful woman, there is always a great mother.

Former Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz's mother Sharifah Azah Mohamed Alsagoff, affectionately known as Mak Ungku, was the first female journalist in the country during the early years of Independence, and was the founder of the Women Journalists' Association of Malaysia.

Among the great women Mak Ungku had interviewed were Indian prime minister Mrs Indira Gandhi and the first woman in space Valentina Tereshkova.

As the only daughter of Mak Ungku, Zeti has been heavily influenced by the devotion of her mother to community service.

"To me, mom was not just a reporter but also a pioneer.

"She was brave to write some really incisive issues and was never afraid to do so," Zeti told Sin Chew Daily.

'She made me want to serve the people'

With a strong passion for literature and arts, Mak Ungku was the first Malay woman in the country to publish the traditional pantuns for children, and the first to introduce the Japanese haiku to the Malay society.

"When I learned of all the things she did in the past, and how she served the community and influenced the lives of many people, I found myself suddenly grow up overnight."

Zeti recalled, "She made me want to do something for the people and help them improve their own lives."

When Zeti was busy with her work at Bank Negara, it was her mother Mak Ungku that helped raise her two young sons Aziz Ayman and Alif Ayman.

"Without her it was impossible for me to even have a career," the ex-banker said gratefully.

 

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