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First woman Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Ariah Tengku Ahmad passes away

KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Ariah Tengku Ahmad, Malaysia’s first woman deputy chief minister, died on Sunday morning at the age of 86.

According to her son, Tengku Datuk Fuad Tengku Ahmad Burhanuddin, his mother died in her sleep at her residence.

Mum’s life is characterised as one of distinction and service,” Fuad said in a statement on Sunday.

Known to her close friends as Irene Pritchard, Ariah captained the Jesselton Athletics Team, was crowned Miss Jesselton 1956, was a radio announcer, journalist, assemblywoman for Kawang, Social Services Minister and Deputy Chief Minister (during the PBS administration), among others.  

In his social media posting, Fuad said, ” It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my beloved Mother, Datuk Ariah Tengku Ahmad, who passed away peacefully at her residence today, the 16th day of June 2024 at age of 86 .”

Ariah, known to her close friends as Irene Pritchard, was the wife of the late Brig. Gen. Tunku Ahmad Bin Tunku Besar Burhanuddin, mother of Fuad, mother-in-law to Shirley and Grandmother of Adam, Alexander and Anthony.

“Mum’s life is characterised as one of distinction and service. She captained the Jesselton Athletics Team, was crowned Miss Jesselton 1956, was a radio announcer, journalist, ADUN for Kawang, Minister of Social Services and Deputy Chief Minister, among others,” Fuad added .

“But above all, she was an amazing Mother and Grandmother whom we all loved and shall miss dearly.”

“Indeed we belong to Allah and indeed to him we return,” Fuad said.

“May Allah bless her soul, forgive all her sins and place her in Jannatul Firdaus among the soliheen, ” Fuad said.

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