Friends pay last respects to Tok Non

Shamsul Munir Safini

NIBONG TEBAL: A steady stream of visitors, including friends and politicians, gathered at the family home of former Penang Umno chief Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Osman in Kampung Sungai Setar Khecil, Sungai Acheh, to pay their last respects to him.

Zainal, or more affectionately known as Tok Non, 58, was pronounced dead at the Ampang Hospital, Kuala Lumpur at 2.07am today following a battle with multiple myeloma - a type of blood cancer in the plasma cells.

He will be laid to rest at the Sungai Acheh Mosque’s burial ground after the Asar prayers.

Among those present was Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusuf Rawa, who had just returned from performing the Haj two days ago.

When approached, Mujahid said Zainal Abidin was known for his gentle personality and always open minded in politics.

He said he became close with Zainal Abidin during the transition of power when Barisan Nasional (BN) lost Penang in the 2008 general election.

“At that time, he was the go-between as BN still held on to power at the federal level while Pakatan was in the state government.

“It is always easy to discuss things with him as he is open to suggestions,” he said.

Mujahid said as a seasoned politician, Zainal Abidin would be dearly missed by all levels of society.

Meanwhile, Umno Permatang Pauh division chief Datuk Mohd Zaidi Mohd Said said he would always remember Zainal Abidin’s many advice to him.

“As an older person, he never failed to provide advice, more so when I first assumed the role as division chief.

“At that time, he told me to carry out the responsibility as best I could without depending on others as I had volunteered to hold the post.

“He had said ‘We offered ourselves and no one forced us to become the chief, that is why, we need to take full responsibility for the trust placed on us’,” he recalled.

Zaidi said Zainal Abidin was also well respected in Penang Umno due to his wisdom in placating all the warring chiefs in the past.

“It is no secret the different behaviours of the division chiefs in the state but he managed to unite all when he led the party previously,” he added. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd