Yesterday, the whole of Malaysia was in mourning after it was announced that Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub has passed away.
As tributes poured in from those across the political divide, one tribute tugged at the heartstrings of Malaysians, when it came from Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh, who was deeply saddened by the news.
‘I lost a defender and close friend’
In a lengthy Facebook post written by Yeoh in both English and Malay, she recounted on the various moments where their friendship went through thick and thin.
One such defining moment was when she came under attack over her biography ‘Becoming Hannah’, where she shared how she balanced her role as a Christian and politician at the same time.
When my book ‘Becoming Hannah’ was used as a political attack against me, Salahuddin Ayub defended me. I have always been used as a scare tactic by some to frighten Muslims because I am a DAP politician of Christian faith.
“For Salahuddin to not employ the same fear tactic as some would or to shun away but instead drew closer as a friend, truly earned him a very special place in my heart. I told him multiple times that I would never forget the kindness he showed to me,” she wrote.
Yeoh then went on to reminisce how Salahuddin was her constant support during the rise and fall of the PH government in 2018 and when she was named a minister in Anwar’s Cabinet.
“Whether it’s breakfast or lunch at Cabinet meetings, most times Salahuddin would sit next to me and jokingly compared the number of times I received more airtime on news than him.
“He would return home late after events and send me photos of my press conferences on midnight TV news to prove his point.”
She also remembered how hard Salahuddin worked for Malaysians, which was apparent when he unveiled the popular Rahmah initiative, writing that he “worked hard till his last working day on Friday (July 21)”.
‘I have yet to let go’
Yeoh wrote that when news of Salahuddin’s death broke, she was overwhelmed with sadness and has yet to fully accept it.
“I keep returning to our WhatsApp messages to remember our exchanges. I don’t know how I would react seeing his empty chair in Cabinet meeting this week.”
I could go on and on writing this tribute but words would not bring him back.
Despite her sorrow, Yeoh said she’s forever indebted to Salahuddin and was glad to have found a close friend in him.
“Through Salahuddin’s life, I experienced the kindness and provision of God. Salahuddin understood my love and my faith in the Almighty. God hath provided me such a friend.
“I cannot say rest now my friend. I have yet to let go. I cannot,” she wrote tearfully at the end of the post.
What a touching tribute from Hannah Yeoh! Our deepest condolences to YB Salahuddin’s family for their loss.
See Datuk Seri Salahuddin’s contribution here: