Zeti (always in traditional ‘baju kurung’) retires from Bank Negara

By Shazni Ong

There is a saying, ‘All good things must come to an end’.

Dressed in her familiarly well-known blue ‘kurung’, she clocked out for the very last time at around 7.40 p.m. in the evening of 29 April 2016, after serving the nation for 16 years as Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia (Malaysia’s Central Bank) and a total of 35 years of services with the central bank.

That would be among the last and final few of  glimpses of her publicly as the renowned country’s seventh and first female governor, Tan Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz.

Having been a governor from 2000 to 2016, Zeti who officially retired on 30 April 2016, was listed as one of the top central bank heads in the world by Global Finance magazine in 2009.

Zeti received her early education at the Assunta School in Petaling Jaya in 1958. She then completed her Form Six at St. John Institution in Kuala Lumpur.

The 69-year old Zeti graduated with an Economics degree from Universiti Malaya (UM) in 1970 and earned her Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in monetary and international economics from University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League university in the United States, eight years later.

She first joined Bank Negara Malaysia in 1985 as Deputy Manager in the Economics Department. Before that, Zeti had a short stint with the South-East Asia Central Bank Training & Research Centre as an economic researcher from 1979 till 1984.

On 1 May 2000, she was appointed as the seventh governor of Malaysia’s central bank taking over from the late Tan Sri Ali Abul Hassan Suleiman, marking her as the first woman to hold that position.

The former Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia is not only a prominent and distinguished figure in the financial and economic world. Despite the appealing of the field happening both locally and abroad, Zeti is also an individual who retains a close identify of her roots and culture through the Malay ‘baju kurung’.

Born in Johor Bahru on 27 August 1947, the only daughter to the couple of  notable and renowned scholar, Royal Professor Ungku Abdul Aziz and a respected cultural individual in the country, the late Sharifah Azah Mohamed Alsagoff.

The late Sharifah Azah, who was known as Puan Azah Aziz, was a respected Malay culture icon who had dedicated herself to the preservation of authentic Malay traditional culture.

Back then, she had always dressed faithfully in her trademark of ‘baju kurung pesak’ or the Johorian ‘baju kurung’, a trait which has also been followed by her daughter.

Hence, it is as if Zeti and the ‘baju kurung’ never seemed to break apart.

Without wearing much jewelries or accessories, Zeti would just seem to look illustrious enough in that dress.

Whether at international functions or local ceremonies organised in the country, Zeti is often seen in her blue ‘baju kurung’.

It is understood that the blue dress has always been the official clothing for Zeti when she attends meetings while representing the central bank, although occasionally she likes to wear green and purple kurung as well.

As commented by Siti Hawa Othman of Bernama, “She always had that calm look and weak smile and yet that demure, gutsy lady governor in blue ‘baju kurung’, surely commanded a lot of confidence and respect from the public.”

On behalf of myself, IIUMToday and all Malaysians, we humbly thank you, Tan Sri, for the many great contributions you have made for the betterment of Malaysia.  Thank you, Tan Sri Dr. Zeti Aziz. You will surely be missed, dearly!***

Feature image taken from Bloomberg.com

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