February 7, 2010
Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Remembered
by Din Merican
“Tunku was a true Malaysian. As we have forgotten him, we have also forgotten how to be Malaysians. We must learn again how to be free and equal citizens of a constitutional democracy. In our national life we must learn again how to be a Federation of sovereign states governed by the rule of law”.–Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah
Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra–On Mahathir’s UMNO
Let us remember this great Malaysian and Father of Malaysian Independence. His Birthday is February 8, 2010. He remains in the hearts of all peace loving Malaysians as a very special statesman. He had something to say about our Fourth Prime Minister and his UMNO Baru. Tunku said that UMNO Baru is the creation of Mahathir Mohamad. He also described Mahathir’s action to have UMNO declared illegal by our courts and to form UMNO Baru as zalim.
Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Alhaj was born in Alor Star, Kedah, on February 8, 1903, the seventh son of the Ruler of Kedah, Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah. His mother was Che Manjalara.
Tunku received his early education in a Malay and English School in Alor Star, at Penang Free School and a Siamese school in Bangkok. In 1920, a State scholarship took him to England for tertiary education. He entered St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge, and read history and law. He graduated in 1925 with a B.A. Degree. He then joined the Inner Temple, in London.
In 1931, he returned to Kedah and joined the Kedah State Civil Service. He served as District Officer in Kuala Nerang, then Langkawi, Sungai Patani, and finally in Kulim.
In 1948, Tunku Abdul Rahman became Chairman of UMNO Kedah. He returned to Inner Temple, London to complete his law studies and was called to the English Bar. On his return to Malaya in 1949 he was appointed as a Deputy Public Prosecutor. In 1951, he succeeded Dato Sir Onn bin Ja’afar as President of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). On July 27, 1955, the Federation’s first elections to the Federal Legislative Council were held. The Alliance Party swept through the polls, winning 51 out of 52 seats. In the new Government Tunku Abdul Rahman became Chief Minister.
On December 31, 1955, Tunku Abdul Rahman headed a delegation from the Alliance, to London for talks with the British Government on the future constitution of the Federation. On August 31,1957, Malaya became independent and Tunku Abdul Rahman became her first Prime Minister. In September, 1963, he became the Prime Minister of Malaysia. It was during his Administration that the Bangkok Declaration was signed to form the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). He handed over power to Tun Abdul Razak in 1970 and took personal responsibility for the tragic riots of May 13, 1969.
A keen sportsman, Tunku had been a football fan all his life. He was President of the Football Association of Malaya, President of the Asian Football Confederation, and President of the Asian Badminton Confederation. His other personal interests include golf, sailing and photography. In addition, he was the owner of a remarkable collection of Malay weapons, especially the kris.
Tunku passed away at the age of 87 on December 6, 1990.
February 7, 2010
20 Years too late, Rais Yatim
If anything, the Kedah prince is only famous for bringing Merdeka to Malaya, forming Malaysia with Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore, then kicking Singapore out and later kicking out one Dr Mahathir Mohamad from UMNO.
Today, Information Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim proposed to name December 6 as Tunku Abdul Rahman Day in memory of his death in 1990 and his struggles for the nation. All well and good, to actually have a day dedicated after being dead for nearly 20 years.
Yet, the self-declared “happiest prime minister in the world” would not find good company among those who seek to recognise his struggles two decades later. The Tunku, as he was known among the media, had stood for real substantive democracy, unity among the races and strong institutions in his time helming the young nation called Malaya and later Malaysia.
In his time, the country was rich with rubber and tin, talent and skills, and most important of all, hope and equality for all under the Malayan sun until the dark days of May 13 which pushed him out under a cloud of despair.
Yet, he fought for a just and equitable Malaysia in his political life until his death, with his footballing passion ensuring he believed in fair play for all occasions.
It is that belief that led him to refuse to join UMNO Baru that was resuscitated from the ashes of UMNO declared illegal in 1988. In fact, he openly campaigned against UMNO by throwing support behind Semangat 46 which was, ironically, led by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah with Rais in tow.
Today, both are in UMNO Baru that is bereft of icons like Tunku but sprinkled with influential right-wingers who believe in being exclusive in race and religion, even the economy. For them, Malaysia is for Malays, not Malaysians, notwithstanding party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s prime ministerial mantra of 1 Malaysia.
And so today, Rais has decided to bring Tunku back out of the cold and the sidelines of party and national history by dedicating a day to him. By linking to him, the current Barisan Nasional government hopes to benefit from his popularity and warmth that a section of the electorate – be they Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kelabits or Kadazans – remember of the avuncular Bapa Kemerdekaan.
Well, 20 years is a bit too late to name a day after Tunku Abdul Rahman. Because for those who still follow his dream of an ideal Malaysia, every day is Tunku Abdul Rahman Day.
Not just December 6. Not just February 8. And not just because Barisan Nasional finally had an attack of conscience and hope to gain support by remembering him.
It will just be taking Tunku’s name in vain. Stick to his ideas and dream of a Malaysia where justice and prosperity is for all – from the man in the street to the royalty in the palaces – and then truly celebrate Tunku Abdul Rahman Day.