KUALA TERENGGANU, Sept 21 — The services and sacrifices of former Terengganu Mentri Besar Tan Sri Wan Mokhtar Ahmad, who died this morning, will always be remembered by Terengganu people from all walks of life.
During his 25-year long tenure as Mentri Besar from 1974 to 1999, Wan Mokhtar, 88, was known as a state leader who emphasised the importance of education as one way out of the shackles of poverty.
Among his initiatives was to introduce cash rewards for those who excelled in the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) and Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examinations.
The incentive continues to be practiced by the state administration until now which has been extended to cover Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) students.
The long-serving Wan Mokhtar was also known as a leader who always prioritised the development and dissemination agendas of Islamic education.
He was one of the individuals responsible for establishing the Terengganu Islamic Foundation in 1974 to help any individual or organisation in the efforts to further spread Islam.
Apart from that, he also successfully established the Terengganu Family Development Foundation in 1986 which, among other things, provides care services, early childhood care and development, as well as providing capital and facilities to help increase income for low-income families.
Wan Mokhtar’s political journey began in 1963 with his active involvement in Umno and he subsequently became the MP for Kemaman after winning the Second General Election (GE) in 1964.
The Al-Azhar University graduate, Egypt, continued to excel in the political arena and won the Chukai state constituency in the Fourth GE in 1974. He was subsequently given the mandate as Mentri Besar.
During his tenure, he brought a lot of infrastructure development such as roads and electricity to rural areas.
Apart from that, he also served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) from 1973 to 1976.
Meanwhile, Wan Mokhtar also held the position of Terengganu Sports Council chairman for a year in 1980, and became the president of the Terengganu Football Association for 17 years from 1980.
Although he was no longer the menteri besar, it turns out that his services and contributions were still needed when he was appointed as the Malaysian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2000 to 2005.
Wan Mokhtar died at 6.20 this morning at Prince Court Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur, due to heart complications.
He is survived by five children, including Wan Abdul Hakim who is former Air Putih assemblyman. — Bernama