PURSUING INTERESTS:Besides his passion for cooking, the mayor plans to open a cafe or write a recipe book
HIS immediate plans upon retirement is to cook dinner for his family to break fast. This will be followed by working on opening a restaurant or cafe, or writing a recipe book.
The outgoing Kuala Lumpur mayor, Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail, whose last day in office is today, said he has always had a passion for cooking and recipes, which he learnt from his mother.
"The last time I cooked for my family was in 2000 when I was the Subang Jaya Municipal Council president. Among the dishes we prepared for buka puasa were mutton briyani, kuey teow and mi rebus.
"We'll see if I can break the record I made 12 years ago by cooking and breaking fast at home the whole of Ramadan. I've been 'away' from my family for too long," he said.
Speaking about his plans for the food outlet, Ahmad Fuad who will turn 60 soon, said he would like to serve "either authentic Malay or Thai food", stressing that it is merely an idea for now.
Streets met up with the mayor at his office in City Hall headquarters. Even in his last few days in office, he was as busy as ever, meeting stakeholders and chairing various meetings.
Catching a breather in between meetings, he said his day was busy just the way it was when he came to office on Dec 14, 2008.
"I had a meeting with department heads and went straight to work. Now I'm doing whatever I can before I leave office," he said.
Ahmad Fuad said he was thankful for the support from the public as well as from his staff during his tenure.
"We have good people (staff) in City Hall. With proper direction and guidance, we can achieve many things.
"I also got to meet residents' associations, business operators, hawkers, developers, town planners, architects, some of whom I've never met (for work) during my tenure at Housing and Local Government Ministry (as secretary-general).
"As the mayor, I also got to meet ambassadors and high commissioners and have had good relations with them. Public engagement by meeting them personally is as important when making decisions and carrying out programmes like the River of Life project, drafting the KL City Plan 2020, working on redeveloping the traditional villages, and the market upgrade in Jalan Raja Bot."
As the mayor, Ahmad Fuad had his share of challenges, and one of them was to work on City Hall's finances. He also said improving its service delivery was another challenge.
"When I came here, we only had RM900 million in funds, but now we have almost RM3 billion to spare. We cut cost, revamped the organisational structure and increased funds by imposing higher development charges.
"On top of that, I told my staff that our work must be properly documented and stay consistent with our client charter.
"ISO certifications (International Organisation for Standards) are proof of our efforts to improve. Providing online services is also one way to ensure faster delivery. We can never win a battle if we are not prepared."
The other challenge, he said, was dealing with the Bersih 3.0 rally in April.
"No one has challenged the Dataran Merdeka bylaws before, so it was the first.
"We had to make the call to prohibit people from holding the sit-in protest there primarily because it is a tourist attraction and we don't want people to have the idea to gather there whenever they are not satisfied with something. Dataran has enjoyed the second highest tourist visits after KLCC."
His other passion, as many know, is for preserving the greens, and he counts the transformation of Lake Gardens into Botanical Garden which he personally looked into, as one of his best accomplishments.
"We managed to do it with a RM20 million budget, of which RM8 million was from City Hall and the remaining contributed by the private sector."
Ahmad Fuad admitted inheriting his mother's green thumb and interest for cooking, fashion as well as poultry.
"Where I grew up, my mother grew different plants including heliconia and reared chicken so we were basically exposed to such an environment. She also had her own tailoring business," said the father of five.
Not short of speaking in metaphors and being philosophical, Ahmad Fuad described his job as mayor to "playing golf".
"You can play golf however you want, with the choice of sticks, but at the end of the day, the result will reflect your decision."
Born on July 16, 1953, among the posts he had held included being the Public Service Department's chief assistant director, president of Subang Jaya Municipal Council, general manager of Penang Development Corporation and was Housing and Local Government Ministry secretary-general (2006-2008) before being appointed as KL mayor in 2008.