Malaysian History Blog – May 13 Related Articles

April 19, 2009 at 11:40 pm Leave a comment

Policies emerging from May 13

Policies emerging from May 13
MANY consider the May 13, 1969 racial riot as the darkest chapter in our country’s 50 years of independence. Because it was such a traumatic event that scarred the nation, the government endeavoured, through national policies, to address the root causes that were thought to have sparked off the clashes.

According to the national unity and national integration department’s website, three major policies emerged after the riots namely, the National Education Policy, the National Cultural Policy (NCP) and the New Economic Policy (NEP). These policies were further strengthened with the introduction of the Rukunegara and other policies on national development and vision.

Mother of all policies’

Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, who joined the civil service in 1959 and was directly involved in the formulation of major public policies including the NEP, described the policy, introduced in 1970, as the “mother of all policies”.

 “The dominant, underlying preoccupation was with administering the NEP. And the other policies have all emerged, in one way or another, from the NEP,” he told theSun.

Among others, Ramon was Finance Ministry deputy secretary-general from 1979-86. He retired in 1989 as Transport Ministry secretary-general. “I still subscribe to the goals of the NEP which was necessary and which has contributed greatly to our peace, stability and progress,” he said. However, Ramon remains dissatisfied with the NEP’s implementation. “It was not fully implemented according to its spirit.”

He said this has resulted in the prevalent polarisation and disunity among Malaysians which runs contrary to the NEP’s goal as envisaged by the then Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and his cabinet.

“The NEP has succeeded and also failed. It succeeded by reducing poverty drastically and in creating access for bumiputras into all areas of economy. “Today the bumiputras are well represented in all the major professions and dominate in the public sector at all levels.

“There is also a greater sense of economic and social stability, but these have been at the expense of national integration and unity,” he said. Ramon believes that if the NEP was implemented to remain faithful to its words and spirit, there would be no or much less polarisation.

“But it was abused when the minority gained at the expense of the majority,” he said. Referring to the bumiputras, he noted that the people who are penalised most are those whom the NEP was meant to help the most.

“That is why there is an income gap within the Malays, and between the Malays and non-Malays.”

When the NEP expired in 1990, many of its affirmative action approaches were continued in the National Development Policy, which was in place until 2000, when it was replaced by the National Vision Policy, effective until 2010.

Ramon stressed that it was not the NEP or the other related policies emerging from 1969 that were wrong. “It’s the bad implementation of these policies through bad governance, corruption and greed that has created a rentier class that has sought to benefit itself at the terrible expense of the poor and the underprivileged of all racial groups.”

That, he said, was certainly not the intention of the nation’s leaders such Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak and Tun Hussein Onn who were mainly responsible for the formulation and earlier implementation of the original NEP. Ramon also believes that the target for 30% bumiputra equity ownership – which has not been achieved according to the government – was not part of the original plan.

“The original target was social restructuring to remove the identification of race with economic functions. But slowly, the 30% target came in. Somebody introduced it during the implementation process but I can’t remember in which year.”

The long-standing debate on the NEP created a controversy earlier this year when it was revealed that bumiputra corporate equity ownership could have reached 45% – higher than the target of 30% and official figure of 18.9%. Ramon said it was crucial for Malaysia to begin introducing real competition at all levels for all Malaysians with assistance for the genuinely handicapped and underprivileged, regardless of race and religion, as was the NEP’s original vision.

Historian Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Khoo Kay Kim agrees that the NEP was “badly implemented”. He said the NEP aimed to balance the economic well-being between the Malays and non-Malays, but not by taking from the non-Malays’ portion.

“There was this theory of expanding the pie first to give more to the Malays. But, how do you get an expanding pie? “At that time, the leaders favoured industrialisation. They believed it was the answer to every country’s problem, rather than tin and rubber which were already considered old-fashioned then,” Khoo said.

On the NCP, Ramon said it started out with the good intention of fostering multi-culturalism but the nation has ended up with mono-culturalism instead. “We are a bit more multi-cultural but there is no direction or focus. It (the policy) has also been abused for political gain,” he said.

However, Khoo said the NCP did not emerge from May 13 because it was already in the pipeline since after independence in 1957. “It was always stressed, from the very beginning, that Malay culture would be the core of national culture while other cultures could be incorporated.”

Khoo was involved in providing input for the NCP. He considers two other post-May 13 outcomes as being more significant. First was the 1970 change of the Sixth Form exam from the Higher School Certificate (HSC) to the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM); and second, the 1974 establishment of Barisan Nasional (BN).

Pre-1970, Khoo said, the HSC exam was in English. As a result, Malay-medium students could not go to university; at that time only Universiti Malaya (UM) was around. Because of the change, in the early 1970s, UM was flooded with Malay school teachers who had sat for the STPM. “This had to do with May 13. The government wanted to speed up Malay development so that more of them could enter university and contribute to economic development.”

Continued Politicking

The BN was ostensibly formed to reduce communal politicking. Up to May 13, 1969 and a little later, three ethnic-based political parties formed the Alliance – Umno, the MCA and the MIC.

“The thinking was, after May 1969, if a unit or organisation could be created where the opposition parties could also come in, it would be possible to discuss critical sensitive issues within the organisation, without bringing them out to the public.”

“The BN was formed to reduce politicking. But, it never happened because they still brought these issues out to the public.

“It is bad enough when leaders of political parties don’t get along but when they get the public involved, the whole nation becomes like that, and instead of reducing politicking, it continues,” Khoo lamented. He said there was a need to revive the spirit of “unity in diversity” for a better future. He added that government efforts thus far to address disunity are insufficient.

“They have not succeeded yet. You have to find ways and means of getting the people together.

“It is possible. I can say that because I lived through a period in Malaysian history when that was possible,” Khoo, who turned 70 this year, said.

Source: Husna Yusop, The Sun, Friday, July 27, 2007
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Watershed elections of 1969

Watershed elections of 1969

TECHNICALLY, the 1969 general election was the first national elections for Malaysia. Prior to that, Singapore, Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya had had their respective elections separately from 1963 to 1964.

Electorally, this explained part of the uncertainty over the outcome of the 1969 elections – 40 out of 144 representatives would be elected from East Malaysia. But, the actual uncertainty was smaller because Tun Mustapha Datu Harun’s United Sabah National Organisation (Usno) won 10 out of 16 seats unopposed for the Alliance on nomination day.

If winning a two-third parliamentary majority or 96 seats was the minimum goal for the Alliance, then it needed only to win another 86 seats, from the peninsula (104 seats), Sarawak (24) and Sabah (6). By 1969, the peninsula’s political landscape had changed significantly from 1964.

Firstly, a few opposition parties had faded out from the electoral arena. The People’s Action Party (PAP), for one, had retreated to Singapore after the island state was expelled from Malaysia in 1965, but the Democratic Action Party (DAP) continued its struggle here.

The once powerful Labour Party chose to boycott the elections to protest the mass arrests of its leaders. Meanwhile, former MCA president Lim Chong Eu had abandoned his United Democratic Party to form in 1968 a new centre-left party, Gerakan, with former Labour leaders like Tan Chee Khoon and university professors like Syed Hussin Al-Atas and Wang Gungwu. Secondly, old coalitions disintegrated and a new one was made. The Socialist Front (SF), which contested the 1959 and 1964 elections had collapsed due to the disputes over language and other issues between the Labour Party and Partai Rakyat (PR), leaving the latter to contest six seats on its own. The Malaysian Solidarity Convention (MSC), sponsored by the PAP, had died a natural death with the separation of Singapore from Malaysia.

Three parties competing for largely non-Malay support – the DAP, Gerakan and the People’s Progressive Party – had, however, reached an electoral pact to ensure a multi-cornered contest. In 1964, failure to put up a single candidate had cost the Opposition seven seats or 6.7% of the peninsula’s 104 seats. The Alliance won these seats instead despite more than half of the voters rejecting it.

The 1969 elections was dominated by communal sentiments over the questions of language, education and equality. The Alliance lost supporters to PAS and the three non-Malay opposition parties coming from two ends of the political spectrum.

Such competition is in fact not uncommon for the “centrist party” in multi-ethnic societies. In 1971, Zambia’s multi-ethnic ruling party Unip which led the country to independence found itself attacked by two opposition parties which represented competing ethnic interests. Unip’s defeat in five of eleven by-elections alarmed President Kaunda who in the end chose to ban opposition parties altogether and turned Zambia into a de jure one-party state.

Very interestingly, the attrition of Malay support was much higher than that of the non-Malays. Malay opposition parties’ vote shares in the peninsula increased drastically from about 15% in 1964 to 25% in 1969 while the support for non-Malay opposition parties remained roughly the same at 26% in both elections. Thanks to the electoral system, however, PAS seats increased from nine to 12 seats only while the non-Malay opposition parties from eight to 25.

The opposition parties’ gain at state level was more shocking to the Alliance Party which not only continued to lose to PAS in Kelantan, but also to political infant Gerakan in Penang. No party commanded an absolute majority in two other states. The Alliance held only 14 out of 24 seats in Selangor and 19 out of 40 in Perak. Some quarters became anxious that non-Malays would become mentris besar.

Two days after the announcement of the result, ethnic riots broke out in Kuala Lumpur on May 13 and soon spread to other areas. The official explanation blamed the riots on the opposition’s victory parades but declassified British intelligence have since pointed to other causes.

The riots prompted the declaration of Emergency Rule and the suspension of Parliament. Uncompleted elections in Sabah, Sarawak and a Malacca constituency were suspended. A selected circle of politicians, bureaucrats and security officers formed the National Operations Council (NOC) and ruled the country by decree until 1971.

Harshly attacked by young Malay nationalists in Umno including Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tunku stepped down in 1970 on ceremonial grounds, saying he did not want to serve as premier for the next Yang di-Pertuan Agong who was his nephew. In reality, many observers noted that the power had long passed into the hands of his deputy and successor Tun Abdul Razak.

The 1969 ethnic riots, officially attributed to inter-ethnic socio-economic disparity and political division, warranted sea changes in Malaysian society, in economy and politics. On the first front, the New Economic Policy (NEP) was introduced to achieve its twin goals of poverty eradication and restructuring of society. The attrition of Malay support for Umno had clearly sent a powerful message.

To curb so-called “politicking”, once parliamentary rule was restored, the Constitution was immediately amended to place four sensitive issues, namely the special status of bumiputras (Article 153), national language (Article 152), the position of Malay Rulers (Article 181) and citizenship (Part II), beyond public discussion. Local elections, suspended since 1965, were permanently abolished in 1973.

Tun Razak’s coup de grace in consolidating Umno’s dominance was the formation of coalition governments at state and local levels in 1970 and 1971, followed by the expansion of the Alliance into Barisan Nasional (BN) by 1974.

The co-optation started with Sarawak after the resumption of elections in East Malaysia in mid-1970. Like Perak and Selangor, Sarawak had a hung assembly (totaling 48 seats), with two possible coalitions: a 23-seat coalition of Muslim- and Chinese-based parties or a 32-seat Dayak-Chinese coalition.

The federal government broke the deal for the former which resulted in a 35-seat coalition of a Muslim-dominated Sarawak Alliance (15 seats), Chinese-majority Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) (12 seats) and the Dayak-based Parti Pesaka (8 seats). SNAP, whose former leader was the first Chief Minister Stephen Kalong Ningkan, was left in the cold with twelve seats. In return also for its support in Parliament, SUPP was rewarded with a federal ministership.

The Sarawak formula was soon tried out in the peninsula. Despite holding a two-third majority, Penang’s ruling party Gerakan decided to share its state power with the Alliance in February 1972 in return for federal support and aid. This caused a break-up of the Gerakan party, producing the short-lived Pekemas party led by Dr Tan Chee Khoon.

The Alliance’s third coalition government was formed in Perak, at state and municipal levels, with the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) which ruled Ipoh. Nominally, PPP remained an opposition party at the federal level.

PPP’s gain, by being coopted, was perhaps the least of all the co-opted parties’ but it feared not having any other alternatives. As state governments started taking over municipal councils, it feared the loss of its power base in Ipoh.

Finally, on New Year’s Day of 1973, the Alliance and PAS sealed the last coalition agreement. PAS gained a number of federal and state positions while Umno benefited from two state executive council seats in Kelantan. On July 1, 1974, the Alliance and its new coalition partners officially re-engineered their coalition into the Barisan Nasional (BN). This brilliant project killed three birds with one stone.

>> it effectively eliminated nearly all political competition as the opposition seat share in Parliament shrunk from 37.5% to 15.3% with only the DAP and SNAP remaining as Opposition.

>> the proliferation of parties within the BN left Umno in a stronger position vis-a-vis its partners than in the Alliance era.

>> the proliferation has also provided differentiation, leading some voters to believe in the diversity of choices and alternatives within BN.

Compared to some leaders in the developing world who banned opposition parties, Tun Razak was a political genius. He understood the importance of government legitimacy. In his own words, “the view we take is that democratic government is the best and most acceptable form of government. So long as the form is preserved, the substance can be changed to suit conditions of a particular country”.

Source: Wong Chin Huat, The Sun, Thursday, July 26, 2007
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Why did it happen? (May 13, 1969)

Why did it happen? (May 13, 1969)

It was bound to happen and was waiting to happen.

Much of the underlying causes could have been resolved early, and some of the symptoms could have been heeded to nip the problem before it conflagrated. In fact, even as early as the 1959 general election when there was much racial tension within the Alliance and outside of it, some observed that the country’s worst enemy was not the communists in the jungles but communalism in the cities.

Beginning with the communist terrorist activities against the Malays after the Japanese surrender, to the Malayan Union where the non-Malays were happy with the rights they got, to the Federation of Malaya where they lost much of these rights and the Malays had their special rights entrenched, communalism festered.

It reared its ugly head prior to the 1955 general election, during the drafting of the national constitution, and prior to the 1959 elections.

The various rights – Malay special rights, citizenship rights, language, culture and education – were publicly debated when the People’s Action Party (PAP) participated in Malaysian politics after Singapore joined Malaysia in 1963.

Because the Alliance participated in the Singapore elections in 1963, the PAP participated in the federal elections in 1964 and told the Chinese not to vote for MCA for betraying them to the Malays.

Preparations were made to defeat the PAP in the Singapore elections scheduled for 1967. Malaysian radio and televisions accused the PAP of undermining racial harmony, while Singapore radio and television called for a “Malaysian Malaysia”, meritocracy and the removal of quotas.

Following the 1965 ouster of Singapore from Malaysia, much of the discussion on these issues were somewhat muffled. But all stops were pulled during the five week campaign period before polling day on May 10, 1969.

Bloody incidents were also not new to the country. Beginning with the January 1957 incident in Penang where four people were killed, there were minor clashes between small groups of Malays and Chinese long before 1969.

But the foretaste of the communal violence to come erupted in November 1967 in Penang where political demonstrations eventually spread to Perak and Kedah, resulting in 25 people being killed.

Meanwhile, the DAP and the newly formed Gerakan grew into formidable rivals. Where the Alliance thought the general election was a walkover, it suddenly had to contend with these two parties which attracted Chinese and Indian voters in droves.

During the long campaign period, the DAP spoke quite unreservedly about a Malaysian Malaysia. It targeted the MCA for letting down the Chinese with the passing of the National Language Act 1967 and for accepting the use of Malay as the sole medium of instruction in school.

Gerakan felt strongly that the special Malay rights and the language policy in schools were inequitable to other races. The MCA and MIC had to defend the Alliance stand, while Umno had to fend off PAS’s allegations that it was “selling out the Malays to the immigrant races”.

The Labour Party, allegedly communist infiltrated, did not participate in the elections but were busy organising demonstrations against the government. Just a fortnight before polling day, an Umno member was murdered, allegedly by a Labour Party member. Tensions ran high but was quickly contained.

Ten days later, police shot dead a Labour Party member for resisting arrest in Kuala Lumpur. The party applied for a police permit to hold a funeral procession on May 10 – polling day. Permission, however, was granted for May 9. About 10,000 people took part and they flouted every police instruction, including the routes they were supposed to take.

They passed through the heart of Kuala Lumpur and clogged up traffic on almost every street. They carried the Red Flag and portraits of Mao-zedong and sang The East is Red. They provoked Malay bystanders with shouts of “Malai si” (“Death to the Malays!”) and “Hutang darah dibayar darah” (“Blood debts will be repaid with blood”).

It was to the credit of the Royal Malaysian Police that nothing ugly happened that day. But it set the stage and primed the mood for what was to happen following the “celebrations” on May 11 and 12. While it is a dark blot in the nation’s history, Malaysians – old and young – will never be allowed to forget May 13. Mostly, it is used to scare people away from public discussions and debate on such subjects as citizenship, education, culture and religion.

We are constantly reminded of the incident so that we will refrain from questioning the regime in place, from saying things about it or doing things that may be construed as undermining racial harmony and national unity.

Many are agreed that Malaysians should also treat May 13 as a lasting reminder of the danger of disregarding the Merdeka Constitution and of playing about with the sensitivities, customs and traditions of the country’s various ethnic groups.

Source: The Sun, Thursday, July 26, 2007
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The tragedy of May 13, 1969

The tragedy of May 13, 1969

WHEN in 1968 the Alliance began preparations for a renewal of its mandate which was due to end in 1969, little did it suspect what the results would unlock.

As far as it was concerned, the 1969 general election was to be a routine affair, and there was no doubt in the mind of Alliance leaders that it would win as decisively as it did in 1964.

After all, the cancer that was Singapore had been cast off in 1965, the economy was happily humming, the Indonesian confrontation had just ended and diplomatic relations with the Southeast Asian giant re-established, and the opposition was weak and fragmented.

The Alliance boasted that it could easily win more than two thirds of the 144 seats in the Dewan Rakyat or about two thirds of the 104 Peninsular Malaysia seats, capture Kelantan, and retain control of all the other state legislatures. But that confidence was shattered in the early hours of May 11, 1969 when the results of the May 10 elections were known.

The Alliance had won only 66 seats, down from the 89 it won in 1964. It also lost Penang, failed to capture Kelantan, and came close to losing Perak, Selangor, Kedah and Terengganu. The Opposition was surprised, too. The DAP, which reconstituted itself from the People’s Action Party (PAP), won 13 seats when the Singapore-based party had only one in 1964. PAS got 12 seats, an increase of three; PPP won four, an increase of two; while the new party Gerakan won eight. Even though the Alliance had not lost power – and Sabah and Sarawak had yet to decide – the Malays were alarmed. They felt that the government they had dominated all this while was going to collapse.

During the Alliance meeting held to assess the results, a number of Malay representatives blamed the losses on the MCA which saw 20 of its 33 candidates defeated. Hurt and weak, the MCA announced on May 13 that it would not participate in the government at federal and state levels. What appeared as punishment of the MCA by Umno became an additional factor contributing to further racial tensions and anxieties.

Opposition supporters, especially the Chinese and Indians who had voted for the DAP and Gerakan were jubilant. And they showed it. They celebrated their “victories” by marching through Kuala Lumpur and in their exuberance shouted insulting epithets at Malays living near the city fringes. They even showed vulgar gestures at Malay women.

On May 12, Gerakan got police permission for 1,000 party members and supporters to hold their own demonstrations that evening. Word got around quickly and the number swelled to 4,000 which later broke up into smaller groups that conducted their own “demonstrations” away from the restrain of party leaders. They, too, taunted the Malays with insults, using similar words that had been hurled by the previous day’s demonstrators, such as: “Melayu balik kampung, kita sudah berkuasa sekarang” (“Malays, return to your villages, we are now in power”) and “Hey Sakai bolih balik ke hutan” (“Hey Sakai, you can return to the jungle”).

Meanwhile, groups of Malays from outside Kuala Lumpur gathered at Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Harun Idris’ house in Kampung Baru. They urged Harun to lead a victory demonstration to show they had not lost power. Before long, it was announced a demonstration would begin from Harun’s house at 7.30pm on May 13.

Violence started at about 6pm that day when about 100 Malays from Gombak made their way through Setapak – the scene of the previous evening’s demonstrations – carrying banners and shouting slogans. Soon, street clashes broke out between them and Chinese and Indian youths. Parang, sticks and iron pipes were used.

Most of the Malay demonstrators made it to Harun’s house where exaggerated versions of what happened had already reached the 5,000 people gathered there. They were in an ugly mood. When some Chinese and Indians in a passing bus made some taunting remarks at them, the vehicle was attacked. By 6.40pm, the first three Chinese lay dead beside the road.

Word of what happened in Setapak and Kampung Baru spread and within hours the whole city was engulfed in communal rioting the size of which had never been experienced by the country before.

The worst of the rioting burned itself out during that first night.

On May 14, a state of Emergency was declared and Parliament was suspended indefinitely. On May 16, Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman set up the National Operations Council (NOC) to rule the country by decree with his deputy, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, as director of operations.

Sporadic small clashes continued after May 14 and they fizzled out only after about a month. The last serious outbreak was between Malays and Indians on June 28 in Kuala Lumpur in which five people were killed.

In January 1970, Tun Razak set up a National Consultative Council to find ways to promote and strengthe racial harmony so that normalcy would return and Parliament restored. On Sept 21, the Tunku retired as prime minister, depressed and sad that the racial harmony he had devoted much of his political life to strengthen had collapsed under his watch.

Tun Razak succeeded Tunku as the country’s second prime minister, and eventually the NOC came to an end after 21 months, and Parliament convened again on Feb 23, 1971.

Source: Zainon Ahmad, The Sun, Thursday, July 26, 2007

Monday, 30 July 2007

Tunku Abdul Rahman (1957-70)

Father of Independence

Arguably the most loved of Malaysian prime ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman exuded grace and warmth, but had a steely resolve.

Who can forget the Tunku’s calm demeanour in defusing what would have been a riot when supporters of Sports Minister Datuk Harun Idris tried to prevent the police from arresting him for corruption in 1978?

“If you do not obey the law, then this country would go to the dogs for Umno is the custodian of liberty and justice.”

After saying his piece, the crowd parted and allowed Harun to surrender. Such was the Tunku’s effect and influence.

Still, in 1987, despite being the patron of and a columnist at The Star, the government suspended the daily for six months following a front-page report that was deemed sympathetic to Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees who had been arrested during Operation Lallang.

“I am Bapa Malaysia (the Father of Malaysia). So how can they say it is a threat to national security?” said the bitter Tunku.

His greatest achievement was, of course, gaining independence and securing the formation of Malaysia, but his post-premiership saw him push even harder for a united nation for fear that the race to acquire wealth was causing internal conflicts within the various communities.

The Tunku maintained the need for special privileges for the majority but also made it clear that this had to be in tandem with the protection of the rights of the minority.

His first words to newly-independent Malaya via a radio address are immortalised: “Independence was won by the spontaneous support of all communities in this country – Malays, Chinese, Indians and others who regard Malaya as their home.”

The May 13, 1969 tragedy marked the end of Tunku’s premiership. In September 1970, he resigned in favour of his long-time and loyal deputy Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.

But in spite of the adversities he faced, the Tunku never lost his wit. theSun’s political editor Zainon Ahmad remembers one meeting with the Tunku.

“Tunku was old and in frail health. I was to interview him with the understanding that it might be his last interview. Arriving at his home, I saw the Tunku in shorts and slippers cleaning the drain.

“He said: ‘Hang nak interview saya buat apa? Saya dah tua. Dah tak penting lagi. Hah! You ni nak buat obituary lah ni! (What do you want to interview me for? I’m already old. No longer important. Hah! You want to write my obituary, don’t you!) Ok, then. If we have to, then let’s do a good job of it!’”

Former New Straits Times news editor Felix Abisheganaden remembers Tunku for his openness and as a friend of the press.

“He would always ask us for our opinion. He would say that the press and the government were one and made us feel that we were also playing our role in nation building,” said Abisheganaden.

Press conferences, he reminisced, would be preceded by a round of drinks.

“When everyone was high and happy, he’d say: ‘Ok gentlemen, what are we here to discuss?‘ And he’d give you the whole story.”

Abisheganaden said Tunku’s wit and humour were legendary, citing an incident upon Tunku’s return from the Haj together with then Education Minister Khir Johari (later Tan Sri).

“When the press asked him: ‘Sir, we can refer to you as Tunku Abdul Rahman Al Haj, but how do we refer to Encik Khir?’, Tunku’s reply was, ‘That’s simple. Call him Khir Johari Al Cohol.’”

Describing the Tunku’s administration as the “golden years”, Abisheganaden said it was an innocent period before ultra-racial sentiments started creeping in.

“Tunku’s liberal lifestyle was, of course, the focus, and he was called un-Islamic,” Abisheganaden said referring to Tunku’s critics, PAS and Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Despite the manoeuvrings in Umno to get rid of him, the Tunku was steadfast. “I will resign properly,” he said.

And this, according to Abisheganaden, was how the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) came about. “The Saudis decided on having this body and elected Tunku as its first secretary-general. You can say the OIC started off as a retirement plan for the Tunku!”

Under Tunku Abdul Rahman’s premiership:

>> Bahasa Melayu becomes the official language
>>Bank Negara and Bank Bumiputra are formed
>>The Emergency ends with the historic 1955 Baling talks
>>Primary education is given free
>>Malaysia is formed
>>Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) is formed
>>The Youth and Sports Ministry is established
>>Three-year Confrontation with Indonesia ends
>>First Malaysia Plan launched
>>Asean, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is formed
>>Majlis Amanah Rakyat or Mara, to encourage and develop bumiputra entrepreneurship, is established
>>Malaysia International Shipping Corporation is established
>>Makes Islam the official religion

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