KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has credited his boss, Prime Minister Najib Razak, with having "extraordinary" calmness under pressure, patience and a caring attitude.
These qualities, he said, had served Datuk Seri Najib well during his four decades in politics.
"Despite the many challenges he faces, Najib continues to be patient and does not let any situation get him down," he said in his speech when launching the coffee table book on Mr Najib's involvement in politics, titled Najib Razak: 40 Years, 40 Pictures.
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid, who worked as Mr Najib's political secretary from 1986 to 1995, related three little-known incidents about his boss.
The first was a tense situation in 1987 when Mr Najib was Umno Youth chief and three of the movement's executive committee members were arrested under the Internal Security Act.
"The Special Branch came to his house to interview him. I was with Najib at the time and I felt that maybe Najib too had been listed to join those in detention," he said.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said he saw how Mr Najib was unusually calm when he was questioned despite the pressure he must have felt.
"I saw the calmness of a man that I believed would one day become a great leader," he said.
The second incident was when Dr Ahmad Zahid and Mr Najib were both travelling together in a car from Johor to Pekan.
Mr Najib, who was seated at the back, had fallen asleep when the driver sped up, hoping to make better time to the destination, Dr Ahmad Zahid said.
During the journey, the driver had to slam on the brakes when he spotted a herd of goats crossing the road ahead. The abrupt stop thrown Mr Najib forward, causing him to hit the back of the front seat.
"Najib then asked the driver how fast they were going.
"And when the driver replied that they were doing 220kmh when he braked, Najib merely remarked that it was almost as fast as an aircraft about to take off, before continuing his nap.
"I thought surely he would have gotten angry or sacked the driver, but he just laid back and closed his eyes, which shows his patience," Dr Ahmad Zahid said.
The third story centred on Mr Najib's caring attitude towards all the senior Umno Youth officials who had served under him while he was the movement's chief from 1987 to 1993.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said Mr Najib made it a point to keep track of all the 165 party division Youth chiefs during his tenure.
"He knew the condition of each person and he would get his officers to check up on those who were not well.
"It is this caring attitude that I have also tried to emulate," said Dr Ahmad Zahid.