General (R) Tan Sri Dato' Zain Hashim was born on 1 August 1930 in Hamstead, London. He received his first and second years of primary education at Seputeh Malay School (1935-1936) and his third and fourth years at Kota Raja Malay School (1937-1938). He then attended SMC I Monks Hill in Singapore (1939) and SMC II Monks Hill in 1940. He furthered his studies at Junior Cambridge level at Raffles Institution (1945) and Senior Cambridge level at Ismail English School (1946) in Kota Bharu, Kelantan. eliau kemudiannya melanjutkan pelajaran ke peringkat ‘Junior Cambridge di Raffles Institution' (1945) dan ‘Senior Cambridge' di ‘Ismail English School' (1946) Kota Bharu, Kelantan.
He worked for Malayan Airlines from 1947-1949 before becoming a recruit in the Malay Regiment in 1949. In 1950, he attended the Officer Cadet School in Eaton Hall, Chester before moving on to the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, England from 1951-1952.
During his military service, he had the opportunity to attend military and professional courses. He took the Company Commanders' Course in Warminster (1958) and the Squadron Leaders' Course in Bovington (1958). Additionally, he studied at the Staff College in Camberley (UK) and the Joint Service Staff College in Latimar (UK). In 1971, he attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in London and also had the opportunity to take the Advanced Management Programme (Harvard Business School) at the University of Harvard, United States.
In the armed forces, he held various positions beginning with Troop Leader FACR (1952) and Adjutant Malayan Contingent for Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation in 1953. In 1967, he was the Chief of Staff at the Ministry of Defence. He later served as the Commander for the KL Garrison (1968-1969) as well as the Chief of Personnel Staff before being posted to Sarawak as Commander of the 3rd Brigade from 1969-1970. He was also the Commander of the 7th Brigade in Kluang (1972-1973) before becoming the Commandant of the Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College (1974).
Following this, he served as the Commander of Region Two (1975-1976) and the Chief of Logistics Staff (1977) before moving on to be the Deputy Chief of Army (1978-1980) and Lieutenant-General in 1980. He was later promoted as General and made the Army Chief from 20 January 1981 until his retirement from the military on 15 January 1984.
After retiring from military service, he remained remainde active in various activities especially in banking and sports. Among other things, he served as a fellow for the Institute of Bankers of Malaysia, President of the Malaysia-Pakistan Economic Association (MAPECA) (1989), Board of Governors of Bankers Club (1987) and Chairman of Perwira Affin Bank. In sports, he was active in the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), serving as the Chairman of the FAM Players' Status Committee', Vice Chairman of the FAM Football Referees' Committee and Council Member of the FAM Investment Committee.
Historical Narration of Luminaries In The History of Opposition and Peace: Communists in Malaysia
2 December 1998
Tunku Abdul Rahman Memorial