Malaysiakini News

Opposition Leader Fadzil dies

YS Tong and Yusof Ghani  |  Published:  |  Modified:

updated version

PAS president and Opposition Leader Fadzil Mohd Noor passed away at Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Cheras, at half past ten this morning, almost two weeks after undergoing a heart bypass surgery.

The 65-year-old politician had undergone a five-hour surgery at the hospital on June 10 and had since remained unconscious.

Fadzil, a moderate Muslim leader, had been monitored closely by the specialists in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital. In recent days, news from the hospital had indicated that Fadzil was making a slow progress in recovery. He was said to be able to react when prompted.

The hospital had also said in a statement that due to Fadzil's previous health records, his recovery could be slow and complex. However his conditions deteriorated yesterday.

Fadzil was suffering from diabetes and hypoglycaemia (low sugar level) for the past 17 years.

It is learnt that the Fadzil's remains would be brought back to his hometown Pokok Sena, near Alor Setar, Kedah, at 3.30pm on a Malaysian Royal Air Force helicopter. He will be buried at Muasassah Darul Ulum, Pokok Sena this evening.

Among those who paid their last respect this morning at the hospital were PAS top leaders, Defence Minister Najib Tun Razak, Education Minister Musa Mohamed and Umno Youth vice chief Aziz Sheik Fadzir.

Upon hearing the news of his death, about 3,000 well-wishers had gathered outside the hospital. More are excepted to converge at a nearby surau where Fadzil's body will be taken for prayers.

Close to Anwar

Fadzil, who had been president of Muslim-based PAS since 1989, was married to Siti Khadijah Ibrahim and had eight children.

The opposition figure was known to be close to jailed politician Anwar Ibrahim during the days when the duo were involved in the Malaysian Muslim Youth Movement (Abim).

The first child in a family known for its Islamic prowess , Fadzil was the influential youth organisation's acting president in 1974 when Anwar, a student activist then, was arrested for his involvement in demonstration against poverty in Baling, Kedah.

In fact, despite their political differences in later years, Fadzil was one of the first opposition leaders to have met and conveyed his support for Anwar when the latter was unceremoniously sacked from the government and Umno in 1998.

He first contested the Kuala Kedah parliamentary seat, as well as Alor Merah state seat, on PAS ticket in 1978 but lost.

In 1980, he contested the Bunga Raya state seat in a by-election and won. Three years later, he was elected as deputy president of PAS.

In 1999, he won both Anak Bukit state and Pending parliamentary seats that he contested.

Al-Azhar graduate

Fadzil received primary education at Sekolah Melayu Derga, Alor Setar and later continued at the Maktab Mahmud in Kedah.

In 1963, he was awarded a state scholarship to study at the University Al-Azhar in Egypt. He read Syariah Law (Islamic law), graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1967.

Upon his return to Malaysia in 1967, he taught at his old school Maktab Mahmud and later became a lecturer in Islamic education at the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (1973-1978).

He was fired from the university due to his involvement in politics. However, his sacking was deemed unlawful by the courts and he was reinstated.

But Fadzil resigned a few months later to become a full-time politician with PAS.

Fadzil's health condition had been a cause of concern for many since early this year. In May, he was admitted for chest pains at the Kuala Terengganu Hospital. He was in Terengganu to attend a Opposition Front meeting.

Then following a routine follow-up check on June 7, Fadzil was admitted at the HUKM and preparations were made for a coronary bypass the following Monday.

His health condition is believed to have deteriorated by work stress, especially the party's general assembly meeting late last month. That was also his last official function as the party chief.

Last week, as Fadzil was recovering from his emergency surgery, PAS appointed party deputy president Abdul Hadi Awang to stand in for the opposition leader.

Abdul Hadi, who is also Terengganu chief minister, is widely considered an Islamic firebrand and took a harder line than Fadzil.

Funeral photos by Colin Nicholas.

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