KUALA LUMPUR – “Challenging, being challenged and for me it is one of the most crucial places in a government”.
That was the reaction of Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu when asked about his feelings when he first served the ministry.
Mohamad or better known as Mat Sabu, however, said that after more than three weeks, he was now adjusting to the new environment in the ministry and the role he should play as the Defence Minister.
“This Mindef (Defence Ministry) family is a family that is full of protocol, mostly during meetings with the sultan and royal heads of state who are patrons of a particular branch of service in the Malaysian Armed Forces.
“So as a regular person I now have to adhere to protocol, especially regarding my attire and other matters and for me, this is something new and challenging but I can, God willing, adapt myself in a short time,” he said in an exclusive interview with Bernama at Wisma Bernama, here recently.
Mohamad, along with 12 other Cabinet members took their oath of office before Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V, at Istana Negara on May 21 following the victory of Pakatan Harapan in the 14th General Election.
Mohamad, who is also Parti Amanah Negara president, said despite the exacting task of helming a ministry that played an important role in safeguarding the security and sovereignty of the country, he was confident of executing it with the help of experienced officers in that ministry
He said although he is known as a person with a sense of humour and likes to joke, he took seriously any decisions being made pertaining to the ministry besides ensuring such decisions were being implemented as soon as possible.
“When decisions are made at our meeting, we have to be serious and any decisions being taken, we have to be firm and resolute about these decisions. So those who know me well will know how to differentiate which one is a joke and which one is serious,” he said.
Asked whether he knew he would be appointed as Defence Minister, Mohamad said initially he was expected to be appointed as Home Minister and had received many congratulatory messages from his friends.
However he said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad later announced that he was appointed as Defence Minister while Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was named as Home Minister.
On his family life following his appointment as minister, Mohamad said it did not change much but his new job demands meant that he has to leave home early and return home late at night.
“Sometimes I feel that at my age, I should have retired, but at aged over 60 I have only started working, so my children are also making jokes and teasing me about it.
“Of course I feel a bit tired but to admit being tired at aged 60 is out of the question because my boss, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, at aged 93 is still working, so Tun is motivating me to continue working,” he said.
Mohamad also said he and his family will move from their home in Shah Alam to a new residence being provided by the federal government soon.
“I live in a terraced house, early in the morning, riders have come to fetch me and the people around it are definitely excited to to live next to a minister as neighbours but another two, three months they probably will be uncomfortable with the siren sounds and so on.
“I will move to a government house, God willing, located around the Bukit Persekutuan, an old house that some people dubbed as Dracula house,” he added with a laugh. – BERNAMA