DRESSED in a bluish-green modern baju kurung exquisitely beaded with sequins and sporting an emerald ring the size of a 10 sen coin on her right finger, Datuk Raziah Mahmud, 54, with her hair highlighted in red henna, stood out prominently among the men that surrounded her.
She was the guest of honour at the launch of RV Estate at Taman Tunku in Miri. She looked and smelled of success.
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At the function, it was announced that she had been appointed the chairman of the SJK Chiaw Nan management committee – the first non-Chinese to hold such a post in Sarawak.
RV Housing Estate managing director Hii King Chiong spoke of how Raziah came into the picture.
Hii said a friend in the school’s committee came seeking help to rescue the school from being closed down because of the falling number of students.
“That was when I thought of Datuk Raziah. Maybe, she could help or advise us on how to deal with the matter,” explained Hii.
“I met her to discuss the school’s plight and she immediately agreed to give us land to relocate the school from Marudi to Taman Tunku. Just like that. No fuss,” he said, indicating how decisive and charitable Raziah could be.
Raziah, through her company Kumpulan Parabena Sdn Bhd of which she is managing director, donated 4ha for the construction of the new SJK Chiaw Nan.
The proposed site is in Taman Jelita Phase II (Taman Tunku).
Despite her slender physique, her presence speaks volumes of her character and personality.
She has been profiled in many prestigious magazines and her business dealings have been featured in the mainstream media.
Her acquaintances have seen the many sides of her personality. Some admire her and would love to be included in her circle of friends. Others feel threatened or hate her guts while some brush her success off simply because she is the sister of Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.
Up close, Raziah is down to earth and a woman of substance.
She got to where she is because of her family upbringing, strong personality and intelligence.
She is a person who knows what she wants and works towards it.
A doting mother of five daughters and two sons and a grandmother of three, Raziah cuts an eminent figure in Sarawak and Kuala Lumpur.
Besides being a licensed company secretary, this graduate with a major in Business Studies is also a successful entrepreneur, having involved herself in diverse business activities.
Her entrepreneurial exploits have earned her accolades such as the IOI Most Innovative Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2004 in property and construction from the National Association of Women Entrepreneurs Malaysia.
Besides her position in Kumpulan Parabena, she is executive chairman of Kumpulan Construction Sdn Bhd and Majupun Sdn Bhd, and executive director of Borsamulu Resort Sdn Bhd.
She is also chairman of Borneo Convention Centre Kuching – Sarawak’s largest state-of-the-art centre for meetings, conventions and exhibitions.
Raziah has been on the board of Eksons Corporation Bhd as an independent and non-executive director since November 2001.
She has also been the Honorary Consul for the Republic of Poland since Aug 29, 2000.
It has been said that this lady only requires a few hours of sleep to recharge before taking care of business.
“This was before. Now age has caught up. I do get tired,” Raziah replied when asked about the rumour, adding that she was not looking her best as she had just arrived from Kuala Lumpur.
When asked who was pivotal in shaping her character, she said: “I came from a loving, close-knit family and I am happy with my life and bersyukur (am grateful) to Allah. I feel the need to give back as long as it is good for humankind.”
She said she always did her best for others, her family, herself and her country.
“We should not take things for granted.”
At the age of 12, Raziah was sent to a religious school in Padang, Indonesia, where she experienced culture shock.
“Imagine this: I was studying at St Mary’s School in Kuala Lumpur when my brother decided to send my sister and me to a conservative religious school in Sumatra where the facilities were very basic,” she said, while reminiscing about taking baths in a communal pond.
“We managed to complete our Islamic lessons and Arabic Language but we were homesick and missed our mother.”
Though their stint in Sumatra was short-lived, the experience had stayed in her heart and mind.
“It taught me to be humble and that we were blessed to live in a land of abundance called Malaysia.
“I feel the need to treat people fairly as I am grateful for what I have achieved and understand that not everybody is as lucky,” she said, stressing the importance of education to improve the livelihood of Sarawak’s people.
Raziah said: “I am a Malaysian. It does not matter whether I am a Malay or Melanau. Race is not an issue in Sarawak.”