WITH mixed feelings of happiness and sadness, Penang Island City Council mayor Datuk Maimunah Mohd Sharif chaired the first full council meeting of the year, and her last.
Her final day as the second lady mayor in Penang is Jan 19 and then she leaves the following day for Nairobi, Kenya, to become the executive director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UNHabitat).
She thanked all for the support she received and apologised for any mistakes made.
“I have mixed feelings leaving...I am very thankful,” she said before bursting into tears during her speech in City Hall yesterday.
Thunderous applause ensued before she composed herself to receive a certificate from the Malaysia Book of Records (MBR) for being the ‘First Asian Appointed as Executive Director of UNHabitat’.
The certificate was presented by MBR deputy general manager Mohamad Alex Edward, who also handed her a gold MBR badge in recognition of her accomplishment of helming the prestigious position.
UNHabitat is one of the most active agencies of the UN, which strives to make sure all humans will have adequate roofs over their heads, especially those in Third World countries.
At a press conference later, Maimunah said the city council along with her went through many challenges since she took up office in July.
“Every step was a learning curve. I always say think positive and then we can turn disaster into opportunities.
“Sadly, I do not have the chance to be involved in the implementation of the programmes we planned but I am confident that they will be continued.
“Mayors come and go, but the heads of departments who remained here will work towards implementing them,” she said.
Maimunah, who hails from Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan, said she was initially hesitant to relocate for four years to Nairobi and leave her two daughters in Malaysia.
“One is working while the other is in her final year in college. But both gave me their blessings.
“I was very happy when I received the offer as it was an acknowledgement of my dedication as a public servant, and I will be the first woman appointed as the executive director.
“I have four more years before my retirement at the age of 60, and this will be the final lap in my career,” she added.
When asked who will replace her as the mayor here, she said she did not know as the decision will be made by the state government and she was not informed.
Council secretary Yew Tung Seang, who is rumoured to be next in line, echoed Maimunah’s reply that it will be up to the state to choose a suitable candidate.
Maimunah holds a Master of Science in planning studies from Universiti Sains Malaysia and a bachelor’s degree in town planning studies from University of Wales’ Institute of Science and Technology.
She began as a town planning officer at the then Penang Island Municipal Council in 1985.
She was conferred the Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri which carries the title ‘Datuk’ in Penang on Sept 2014.
She was named Planner of The Year in 2014 by Malaysian Institute Of Planners.
She was voted into the regional executive committee of the International Council For Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) in Southeast Asia on Nov 2014 and also represented Southeast Asia in the ICLEI’s global executive committee.