Mother's Day Special: Ezra Zaid and Datin Suliana Shamsuddin

BFM radio host Ezra Zaid talks about his mother’s best qualities and how they have rubbed off on him over the years.

For those who tune in to the evening radio, the voice of Ezra Zaid — the host of BFM Radio’s Evening Edition — will definitely be a familiar one.

Compassion for others run deep through his family. Like his mother Datin Suliana Shamsuddin who has dedicated her life to help the underprivileged through Yayasan Orang Kurang Upaya Kelantan, Ezra too is not one to shy away from rolling up his sleeves for charity and taking a stand for social issues. Some say he takes after his father Dato’ Zaid Ibrahim, a prominent lawyer turned politician.

To those who know them personally, this mother and son duo are two sides of the same coin. For this Mother’s Day special, Ezra tells us all about life’s important lessons he has learned from his mother.

What is your favourite way to spend time with your mother?
We are quite different individuals on our own but it’s important to me that we catch up on what’s happening with each other’s lives. What does come to mind is when we’re playing the occasional round of golf; we have these brief conversations that take place between shots.

Adding that competitive element to the mixture is always fun because she’s a pretty decent golfer and I’m always keen on winning. Predictably, she seems to emerge victorious on most occasions.

What is the one thing your mother does that you’ve always found amusing?
When my folks do engage in a conversation on any particular topic, an argument or debate is bound to happen. More often than not, she will almost purposefully say something that will provoke a reaction from my dad.

So, she may or may not believe what she’s saying, but I’m convinced she does it in jest. There’s a certain mischievous element involved and I find it quite funny every single time it occurs.

What are your fondest memories of her?
It would probably be my relationship to homework when I was a young kid. I wasn’t always forthright or remember what was expected at school, so she would always painstakingly ensure that I would complete whatever was due until the wee hours of the morning.

It would be such an adrenaline rush too. In hindsight, most of my grades at that time probably belonged to her as she did so much to get me over the finishing line.

Growing up, how did you mother keep you in line?
You see, she’s always had this gentle and loving nature. That’s why seeing how her whole demeanour would transform itself into a disciplinarian was such a terrifying proposition.

It would be a mixture of things: everything from a light spanking to being reprimanded or not being allowed to watch TV and play video games. It certainly kept me in check.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from her?
Mum has always had a strong centre about her and I have always admired that. She has this core of moral, spiritual and ethical values that I’ve always aspired towards. She sets the benchmark for the rest of the family.

And because of that, I’ve been lucky enough to observe, appreciate and understand the nuances of empathy and compassion.

What is the most extravagant gesture you have done to show your love to your mother?
On one particular year when my folks were celebrating their wedding anniversary, I presented them with a framed candid photo of them on their wedding day.

I knew mum would appreciate it because of the fact that there weren’t many photos of just the two of them on this very occasion. Now, it permanently sits on one of the desks in the living room along with the rest of the family photos.

She will be reading this, no doubt. What would you want to say to her?
I’ll be home for dinner and yes, I’ll fix whatever isn’t working with the WIFI network, smartphone, computer and tablet.

Please stop worrying: I won’t grow old alone nor will I allow myself to get arrested by the authorities. Love you, Ma.