PETALING JAYA: A quiet worker behind the scene, the greatest asset of Datuk Azlin Alias was his ability to make civil servants at ease when dealing with daunting economic and commercial matters.
Initially put in charge of looking into government-linked companies (GLCs) for the Finance Ministry, he eventually was given the more important portfolio of assessing all economic matters in the Prime Ministerâ€™s Office (PMO).
Azlin, 47, used his training as an equity analyst to dissect economic policies and commercial proposals for easier understanding in the PMO.
Large projects sometimes went to him before Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak took a closer look.
Azlin joined Najibâ€™s team in 2008 when he was the Deputy Prime Minister to Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
He was one of the few who left a successful career in the private sector to have an equally high-ranking portfolio in the public sector.
â€œHe was a people person.
â€œHis greatest asset was that he could work well with the civil servants,â€ said CIMB Group chief executive Tengku Datuk Zafrul Aziz.
â€œAzlin was a selfless man and calm even when under pressure. That worked well for his colleagues in the PMO,â€ he added.
An avid golfer, Azlin stayed away from the limelight. He never looked down on the civil servants who worked with him.
His consultative style led to his rise up the ranks in the PMOâ€™s office ahead of others. He never spoke much about work when mixing with his friends from the corporate sector.
â€œHe was careful in that sense never to give anything away,â€ says an ex-equity analyst who worked with Azlin.
Last year, he was made the chief of staff when his role as one of the key persons who coordinated matters involving the economy became apparent. His input in major speeches such as the Budget was vital.
In the corporate world, Azlin shot to prominence in 2004 when he was appointed deputy managing director of Avenue Assets Bhd, then a company under the Finance Ministry. Avenue Assets had a lot of assets that made it a target for predators.
Zafrul was the managing director then and they were tasked with ensuring that the ministry got good value for the company, something which they carried out.
Avenue Assets, after disposing its interest in Pos Malaysia Bhd to enable the ministry realise some of its investment cost, was eventually merged with the ECM Libra Group Bhd.
Datuk Gooi Hoe Soon, the former chief executive of Avenue Assets and former chairman of EON Bank, said no words could describe his loss.
â€œHe was a trusted colleague in our days in Avenue Assets and our families became good friends over the years.
â€œHe was such a helpful, considerate and compassionate friend,â€ said Gooi who was overcome with emotion upon hearing the news.
Azlinâ€™s wife Datin Azlina Mahmad is also in the capital markets. They have three children â€“ two boys and a girl.
Before joining Najib in 2008, Azlin carved a niche for himself in 2002 and 2003 as one of the best equity analyst on companies in the utility sector such as Tenaga Nasional Bhd. He won the best analyst award by a business publication for 2003.
A year later he joined Avenue Assets and in 2005 was heading Malaysian Technology Development Corporate, a company under Khazanah Nasional that looked into venture capital initiatives.
In May 2008, he was the Prime Ministerâ€™s Department Economics Division director before being appointed principal private secretary to the Prime Minister effective March 10 last year.
Although only one year into his job, Azlinâ€™s absence would be felt because he was already a key person well before assuming the post.-NST