PUTRAJAYA: Throughout his 35 years in the civil service, Tan Sri Dr Zainul Ariff Hussain rarely went on leave. He probably holds the record as the civil servant with the most number of leave written off.
When he reached the mandatory retirement age of 55 three years ago before his service was extended on contract, he accumulated a total of 1,333 days or three-and-a-half years of leave.
According to the original civil service regulation, one can accumulate up to 90 days' leave for the golden handshake reward but this was increased to 120 days with effect from this year. This means that leave not taken beyond 120 days will be forfeited.
But why did the officer who had served under all of the country's prime ministers prefer not to go on leave?
Probably because I am blessed with good health. I take care of my health and I see no reason to go on leave, as there is so much work to do. I like to work. I see work as an enjoyment, he said in an interview at his office here shortly before his retirement on Tuesday in his last post as Director-General of Implementation Co-ordination Unit of the Prime Minister's Department.
And during the last three years of his extended service, he also did not take the 90 days' leave that he was entitled to because there's still a lot to be done to develop this country.
Quoting former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his poem entitled Perjuangan Belum Selesai (The Unfinished Struggle), Dr Zainul Ariff said: If we like to work, we derive satisfaction from it. After all, we are paid for it.
When we play football, we are normally satisfied playing and yet we are not paid. But when we do our work as civil servants and are paid for it and if we don't do it well, it is, to me, not right.
Another special trait of Dr Zainul Ariff was to send birthday cards to all 900 employees under his charge, which he described as his way of forging teamwork.
I feel that because I am given the leadership role, it is a kind of trust.
What about his retirement plans?
He said that even Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had asked him that.
I told him I do not ask for anything ... being able to serve the PM is already an honour, and being able to carry out my responsibility successfully is also an honour and a blessing. Bernama
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