PPBM leaders remember Sanusi as an erudite father figure

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid and May Robertson
Tan Sri Sanusi Junid passed away early this morning just before the Subuh prayer time. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 ― The late Tan Sri Sanusi Junid had abandoned his long-time party Umno last year to form Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaya (PPBM) along with several other former Umno leaders.

After he passed away this morning, many of his PPBM comrades have described the former minister as a principled and knowledgeable man, who was also kind, but firm.

To them, Sanusi was also considered a conduit to Umno’s successes in the past; his intellectual prowess appealed to many and drove Malays to actively join politics.

Datuk A. Kadir Jasin, a former newsman who was later appointed PPBM supreme council member, related that Sanusi was among the early intellectual Malays to join politics when he joined Umno in Negeri Sembilan as a banker.

“He was deeply knowledgeable, a walking dictionary on history, economy and politics. He read voraciously,” Kadir said, when asked to describe the late Sanusi.

“[He was also] a Muslim modernist. He was among the founders of [Muslim Youth group] Abim. A storyteller per excellence. An unconventional politician and administrator.”

Meanwhile PPBM strategic bureau chief Datuk Rais Hussin praised him Sanusi as a valiant fighter for truth and justice for the people and the nation.

“[He was] very fatherly with his narrative telling of the real history behind the scenes in Malaysian politics and personally learnt so much from his lectures and discussions,” Rais said, relating that Sanusi was even present at Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto launch last night.

PPBM Youth chief, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman concurred with Rais, pointing out that Sanusi was “an exemplary father-like figure” for young leaders in PPBM.

“He was soft-spoken, yet witty. Kind, yet firm … Even during our last conversation about a month ago, he was a walking Wikipedia,” Syed Saddiq told Malay Mail, referring to the online encyclopedia.

“[He was] a library of knowledge. He could share the exact date or time of a historical event which illuminates our nation.”

PPBM information chief Datuk Kamaruddin Nor said he first knew Sanusi back in the 1970s when they both were part of Abim’s pioneers, and related Sanusi’s role in forming Shamelin ― a cooperative society for the poor Malays to partake in the country's booming economy then.

“Under his stewardship the co-operative society has grown to become one amongst the big national societies it is today. But he made his mark in politics more than in others,” he said, relating Sanusi’s appointment as minister and then Kedah mentri besar.

The former Umno politician was appointed minister of regional and rural development in 1981 and later minister of agriculture in 1986. He later served Kedah between 1996 and 1999.

“He was a man of ideas some of which were ahead of his time. Partly due to that he was no stranger to controversy,” Kamaruddin said.

“The family may have lost a son. I have lost a brother and a friend. PPBM suffers a loss of its staunchest supporter.”

Sanusi passed away early this morning just before the Subuh prayer time. He was 74.

He will be buried at the Bukit Kiara Muslim Cemetery today.