FORMER Kedah menteri besar Sanusi Junid died while waiting to perform his Subuh prayers, his son said.
Akramshah said his father showed no signs of ill health and was even able to attend Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto launch last night.
“He was fine yesterday. He woke up this morning as usual to perform Subuh prayers,” he told reporters at their home in Bangsar.
Family members and friends started to gather at Saidina Umar al-Khattab Mosque in Bukit Damansara as early as 10am to pay their last respects to Sanusi, who also served as rural and regional development minister between 1981 and 1986 and deputy home minister from 1980 to 1981.
Sanusi will be buried at the Bukit Kiara Muslim Cemetery after Friday prayers.
“It was just yesterday he went for a medical check up and it was clean. But Alhamdulillah, he passed away peacefully, on Friday, while waiting to perform his prayers.
“My mother was the one who checked on him because they wanted to pray together,” Akramshah said.
Among the earliest who came to pay their respects were former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former finance minister Daim Zainuddin who described Sanusi as a loyal friend.
“He was a very knowledgeable man, he would fight for you. I last met him three weeks ago,” Daim said.
Former New Straits Times Press group editor-in-chief A. Kadir Jasin said Sanusi was a man ahead of his time.
“He was an intellectual, a banker. He was a man that couldn’t stop reading – if you wanted to find an avid reader, it’s him.
“He was a storyteller, his explanations (were) always academic. He was among the early intellectuals to join politics, when he joined during Tun Razak’s era,” he said referring to the Malaysia’s second prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein.
PKR president and opposition leader Wan Azizah Wan Ismail meanwhile said his death was a loss to the country.
“We need a thinker like him, we need that sort of person in the realm of politics,“ she said when met at the mosque.
Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin described Sanusi as a real fighter in the political arena.
“He would speak his mind, voicing out issues that affect the country.
“Even when he was not in his best condition at 74 years old, he would come and attend programmes, fight for his country,” he said.
Among leaders who came to pay their respects were former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek, former minister Rais Yatim, Deputy Defence Minister Mohd Johari Baharum, PKR and DAP leaders Tian Chua, Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, R. Sivarasa and Teresa Kok.
Sanusi left Umno and joined Bersatu. Last June, Sanusi was elected chairman of Bersatu’s disciplinary board.
Sanusi’s long political career in public service began at the age of 31, when he was elected the Jerai MP. Later, he also won the Jerlun parliamentary seat in the 1982 general election.
He served a stint as federal minister of agriculture before becoming Kedah menteri besar from 1996 to 1999. Most of his years in public service were under Dr Mahathir’s administration and the two men, who are both Kedah-born, are close.
Sanusi last contested in the 1999 general election, winning the Kuah state seat.