Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah being accompanied by the late Jerlun Wanita Umno chairman Datuk Maznah Hamid (left) at the Jerlun Umno division delegates’ meeting in August last year. FILE PIC

THE late Datuk Maznah Hamid was not always known as the Iron Lady. The moniker stuck when the late executive chairman began dishing out tough love, a kind of kindness that was coated with firmness.

People at Securiforce Sdn Bhd grew to like it, and, so did members of Jerlun Wanita Umno, of which she was chairman. All remember the Iron Lady with fondness and love. When someone cares for you, be it with soft or tough love, it is difficult not to remember.

For 26 years, the Wanita wing members in Jerlun had gotten used to her no-nonsense approach, because they knew very well that she wanted the best for the women and people in Jerlun. She would act immediately on complaints because to her, feedback from members mattered a lot as it strengthened the party.

“She could hit hard at you during or outside a meeting, but I can assure you that she never held any grudge against anyone,” said Rohani Mat Ariff, the number two to the late Maznah in Jerlun Wanita Umno.

“Her only intention was to make you a better leader and a stronger person. That was what Maznah was all about. She wanted everyone to be strong, to work hard and be persistent in achieving one’s dream.”

Rohani remembers their early childhood in Jerlun. The two ladies grew up together in their kampung when the late Maznah was under the care of her grandparents here.

Rohani recalls the late Maznah showing leadership qualities even in her early childhood. To Rohani and her peers at the village and school, the late Maznah was their leader.

“She was a brave and bold person. She left the village to further her studies in Kuala Lumpur after completing Form Five.

“She never forgot her roots despite being a successful businesswoman in the city. She came back almost every fortnight to Jerlun — and at times, every week — to check on the progress of programmes at the constituency,” she said.

Rohani said the late Maznah had contacted her three times between midnight and early morning before she was warded at the National Heart Institute to undergo a heart surgery to remove blockages in her heart valve.

Maznah’s passing while recuperating from surgery last week came as a huge blow for Jerlun Umno as the women’s wing and division were making preparations for the 14th General Election (GE14).

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah described Maznah’s passing as a great loss to Jerlun and also Kedah Umno.

The Jerlun Umno women wing will prepare for GE14 without her for the first time in a long while.

Although they are mourning her loss, Rohani said the late Maznah’s spirit would forever live inside the Wanita members in Jerlun.

She said the 1,622 members of Jaringan Rakyat, the division’s women election machinery, would continue raising the party’s flag as Maznah had always done.

“I am grieving. I did not just lose a leader but also a soul mate. It will be a great test for us to face GE14 without her. But, we will carry her spirit to the battle.

“She had taught and prepared us well. No matter how tough things are, we will face them as a united family,” Rohani said.

As journalists, we too, will miss her warm and caring gestures. May Maznah’s soul be placed among the righteous. Al-fatihah.

The writer is Kedah NST bureau chief

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