The day after I came back from a short holiday in a neighbouring country, I saw a full-page advertisement in one newspaper, a condolence message and a prayer for Dr Zainal. I was shocked. Shocked because he was a known fitness fanatic. He was physically healthy, very healthy.
I didn’t know the good man, though. I only worked under him for nine months, when I joined MIER in 1989 and he was the number two guy then, its Deputy Director (MIER – the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research).
But enough to know that he was a very nice character, with a very good sense of humour but, most of all, he was a humble fellow.
He lived in Taman Tun Dr Ismail but would cycle to the office (at that time, MIER was given an office at Bank Negara’s complex). Such was the way he lived his life; keeping fit and healthy.
I had not met Dr Zainal again after I left MIER, though would see him appear on tv every year for the budget commentaries, read his writings and articles in the newspapers and business magazines from time to time.
But alas, Allah loved him more. Dr Zainal, member of the Malaysian National Economic Action Council and a few other posts, passed away on April 30th of a massive heart attack, just a few days before he would turn 67.
May Allah bless his soul always.