Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Dato' Mohd Razif Abd Kadir - A Class Act

By Rushdi Siddiqui
Published: 2011/08/10 on Business Times

AUGUST 8 2011 was a grim day as the Malaysian central bank deputy governor Datuk Mohd Razif Abdul Kadir passed away after battling an illness. Sura AlFaithah.

What is already known is that he served the central bank in many posts for 35 years of his 58 years on earth, served on many boards of financial entities such as Cagamas and INCEIF, and had numerous professional accomplishments.

I got to know Razif because of his belief, passion and energy that he dedicated to Islamic finance globally, not just Malaysia. To those that did not know the "human side" of Razif and only knew him as deputy governor, I want to share three stories about him.

First one, several years ago, I had the honour and pleasure of being on a MIFC roadshow with Razif in Amman, Jordan. I saw him in the health-club early in the morning on the treadmill as he was finishing up his routine. As he worked up a good sweat, I saw him wipe the treadmill clean of sweat droplets as a courtesy to the next user.

He didn't have to clean it as there was a person on duty in the health-club that typically undertakes such efforts. I thought to myself, a real class act in self cleaning the treadmill. Obviously, considerate of others.

During lunch time the delegation sat together, and I was running late as I was not feeling well. I sat across the table from Razif, and he, in his usual energetic self asked, "How was your workout Brother Siddiq?" I tried to mask the sick feeling, but he figured something was not right with me.
He told me to wait for five minutes and left the table in the middle of his appetiser. I thought to myself, did I miss protocol by being late and was he annoyed? No, Razif came back to his seat with a silvery packet in his hands. It was medicine he got from his room. He said "Take it brother, you should be OK in a few hours."

The gesture of this man had more impact than the actual medicine!

I don't know if this is Malaysian hospitality and/or a class act by humble man of his significant stature.

Second story, about two years, I was moderating the first session at an Islamic finance event in Dubai, and Razif was one of the panelists along with a central bank governor of an African country and a deputy governor from a Levant country. He arrived early at the conference and was sitting alone reviewing his notes. I went over to convey my respect and "salaam" and, as usual, he welcomed me with the same enthusiasm that he was known for, be it a colleague, friend, or moderator.

He did not have an entourage with him at the event, and the conference director asked me: "What was he like" and to formally introduce her to him. I suspect she expected him to be demanding on his speaking time, have large number of power point slides, and so on. Needless to say, she, like many who met Razif for the first time, was taken aback with his charm and humility.

After the panel session, it was question-and-answer time, and one of the questions from the audience was rather technical combined with regulatory and was directed towards the gentleman from Africa. Obviously, as a moderator, you don't want any of your speakers to be embarrassed, but neither he nor I had the look of being able to answer. Razif figured our look of SOS, and he took the question without coming across as "showing up" the other speaker.

Final story, I had a late afternoon meeting with Razif at Bank Negara, and the biggest challenge was getting taxi after the meeting at the bank, especially if you had a meeting afterwards across town. Our meeting ended at 5pm and it was raining. Good luck getting any taxi, no matter how reassuring the look of the security personnel at the desk.

I explained to Razif that I needed to be near the Petronas Twin Towers, and he said he was heading that way for a meeting and I could ride with him in his car. I doubt he had a meeting at the time and he was just being his usual self: kind and considerate. I was dropped off near the towers, and made the meeting.

I last saw Razif at GIFF in October 2010, the medical treatment had exacted a toll on his weight, but you could see the will to live in his eyes. We were all happy to see him witness the historic launch of the International Islamic Liquidity Management (IILM) on that day.

There are three appropriate quotes that I like to dedicate to Razif:

"If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster." - Isaac Asimov

"Every man dies, Not every man really lives." - William Ross Wallace

"The death of someone we know always reminds us that we are still alive - perhaps for some purpose which we ought to re-examine." - Mignon McLaughlin.

* The writer is global head of Islamic finance for ThomsonReuters based in New York

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