Tribute to Kedah’s Greatest Son and Malaysia’s Statesman–Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra


February 4, 2017

Tribute to Kedah’s Greatest Son and Statesman–Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Father of Independence of Malaysia

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by Wan Saiful Wan Jan @www.thestar.com.my

NEXT week, on February 8, will be the 115th birthday of Malaysia’s First Prime Minister and Father of Independence, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj.

Tunku was the seventh son of Kedah’s Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah. Tunku’s mother is Che Menjalara, the daughter of Luang Naraborirak from Thailand.

He was educated in Alor Setar, Bangkok and Penang, before graduating from Cambridge University at St Catharine’s College in 1925. He then completed his legal training in 1949.

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Tunku’s Alma Mater, St Catharine’s College, Cambridge

He successfully led the series of negotiations that resulted in our independence from Britain. For that, he will forever be known as our Bapa Kemerdekaan (Father of Independence).

On August 31, 1957, Tunku read out the Proclamation of Independence. The proclamation was the basis and the principles behind the founding of our nation.

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In the proclamation, Tunku said our nation shall “be for ever a sovereign democratic and independent State founded upon the principles of liberty and justice and ever seeking the welfare and happiness of its people and the maintenance of a just peace among all nations”. Liberty and justice – these are the principles that must guide our actions and policies.

In 1963, Tunku brought four entities – Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and Malaya – into one, to form Malaysia. Rightfully, that made him our Bapa Malaysia too.

On the day that Malaysia was formed, rather than reading out a different statement, he opted for the same proclamation, turning what was once called the Proclamation of Independence into the Proclamation of Malaysia.

Of course, as Prime Minister, he made his fair share of mistakes. There were actions of his that many of us today would consider as far short of the ideal. But on balance, many Malaysians today are longing for the environment fostered by Tunku’s administration.

He turned the principles of liberty and justice into actual policies, all aimed at ensuring the welfare and happiness of the people. He was determined to ensure every single citizen of the country enjoys liberty and justice equally, regardless of race and religion.

One thing for sure, his vision of how to unite the country was the correct one. He did not put one group above the other because he knew very well that a happy country can only exist if its citizens were equals.

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Sadly, this vision of equal treatment disappeared soon after Tunku’s departure from office. Until today, we are still affected by the consequences from divisive ethnic-based social engineering.

When Tunku Zain Al-’Abidin Tuanku Muhriz, Wan Mohd Firdaus Wan Mohd Fuaad, and I decided to start the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas), we made a conscious decision to dedicate our work to injecting Tunku’s ideals into all facets of public policy.

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We launched Ideas on February 8, 2010, at an event that was also designed to celebrate Tunku’s birthday. Therefore, next week will also be Ideas’ eighth anniversary.

The last eight years has been challenging but fulfilling. The nature of an independent think tank is not widely understood in Malaysia, where labels of either being pro-government or pro-opposition are thrown around too easily.

When we say that we believe in principles rather than partisanship, many people become confused because we do not fall within their traditional labels.

The culture of “only bad news can become news” does not help either. Our criticisms get picked up by the media more frequently than our praises.

I have now become used to politicians and policymakers from both sides saying that we only criticise them and that we never give them credit. This wrong perception can only be expected because when we give credit when it is due, it is hardly covered.

As far as challenges go, last year was by far the most challenging one. We were very close to shutting down in August because of a major cashflow crisis after two large funders suddenly pulled out.

I had to go cap in hand to various people begging for money to keep us alive. Thanks to two donors, one from Britain and another from Johor Baru, we got through the crisis.

Moving forward, our quest to translate Tunku’s vision into policy proposals will continue. In an increasingly divided Malaysia, we will stay true to his unifying vision.

There are far too many people who, in private, complain like mad but refuse to speak up publicly even though they know they can change the country’s course towards the better. I promised my team at Ideas that we will never become like that. Hopefully history will show that I keep my word.

Meanwhile, let us spend the few days ahead remembering Tunku for the great Malaysian that he was and for his vision of liberty and justice. May his ideals of liberty and justice live forever. Alfatihah.

  • Wan Saiful Wan Jan is chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (www.ideas.org.my). The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

8 thoughts on “Tribute to Kedah’s Greatest Son and Malaysia’s Statesman–Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra

  1. February 8 is my late Mother’s Birthday. As I remember her, I will reflect on the legacy of YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman, the man who led a life of service for Malaysia.

    He was forced by a group of Young UMNO Turks which included Dr. Mahathir and Musa Hitam after May 13, 1969 to leave office and hand over power to NOC chief Tun Abdul Razak. The Tunku died in 1990 but lived long enough to see UMNO destroyed by Dr. Mahathir and his associates.

    In my book, Tunku was a highly principled leader of our country. –Din Merican

  2. Quote:- “He was determined to ensure every single citizen of the country enjoys liberty and justice equally, regardless of race and religion”

    Bad Idea, which explains why he was not PM for 22 years.

  3. In memory of our Father of Independent Malaysia let us vote out the undemocratic, corrupt and kleptocratic thieves and liars. Let us give ourselves a chance to live decent lives free from fear and want.

  4. Tunku’s wisdom is and will be proven for centuries to come. The man who destroyed much of what Tunku tried to build, now in his final lap, relying on what Tunku left behind to undo his own failures. No matter whether Mahathir win or lose, Tunku wins but if Mahathir loses this time, then the Malays and the country lose.
    _______________
    Bigjoe,

    I think LKY was prescient about Mahathir and Malaysia.He never trusted us because he thought the Malay leaders in UMNO and PAS were insecure, unstable and corrupt.He understood the Tunku but was uncomfortable with Tun Razak. For example, he realised in early in his illustrious political career that he could not rely totally on Malaysia for its water supply and worked assiduously to seek alternatives. He also made sure to invest in a strong technology savvy military force using Israeli Defense Force doctrines. He never allowed Tun Tan Siew Sin and his Malay successors to manage Singapore’s reserves when Singapore was in Malaysia (1963–1965),although Tun Tan was prudent. In stead, he put his faith in Goh Keng Swee, Hon Sui Sen, Lim Kim San,Richard Hu, and technocrats like Joe Pillay (at Monetary Authority of Singapore). and Sim Kee Boon (Ministry of Finance). Today, Lee Hsien Loong has a cosy relationship with Malaysia’s most corrupt Prime Minister Najib Razak.What has changed? –Din Merican.

    • Singapore will be delighted if Najib can remain PM until he drops dead. He is seen as a corrupt leader. Show him money and he will probaly open all doors including offering a crooked bridge (more length and bends mean more money to make). But fortunately both Johor Sultan and Singapore want a less crooked bridge. So Najib is left with less room to maneuver.

  5. Reading news about Hadi Awang and younger generation Malay towards non-Muslim, I suspect Tunku Abdul Rahman version of Malaysia will exist after this general election. Malaysia is on the course to be an intolerant towards other religion.

    Salam

  6. /// I think LKY was prescient about Mahathir and Malaysia.He never trusted us because he thought the Malay leaders in UMNO and PAS were insecure, unstable and corrupt….

    …… Today, Lee Hsien Loong has a cosy relationship with Malaysia’s most corrupt Prime Minister Najib Razak.What has changed? –Din Merican. ///

    What has changed?

    1. Singapore is no longer part of Malaysia and her defence, finance and security are not under Malaysia’s control.

    2. Singapore has attained water self-sufficiency. Her sovereign wealth funds (GIC and Temasek) are much bigger than 1MDB. Did I just mention 1MDB??? Her reserves are ample and beyond Malaysia’s kleptocratic hands.

    3. Her defence is formidable – so can afford to relac one corner.

    • Most important Singapore sees a weak Malaysia reeked by corruption and kleptomania a ready victim for exploitation. MO1 as seen with POTUS is ready to sign away anything to win a reprieve.

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