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6, 1990) was Chief Minister of the Federation of Malaya from 1955, and the country's first Prime Minister from independence in 1957. He remained as the Prime Minister after Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore joined the federation in 1963 to form Malaysia. He is widely known simply as "Tunku" (a princely title in Malaysia) and also called Bapa Kemerdekaan (Father of Independence) or Bapa Malaysia (Father of Malaysia),
Tunku Abdul Rahman was born on February 8 , 1903, in Alor Setar, Kedah. He was born in a building known as the "Istana Tiga Tingkat" of the Three-Storey Palace which looked like a pagoda in the palace complex known as Dalam Kota. Tunku was the twentieth child of Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah, the twenty-fourth ruler of Kedah. Tunku's mother was Che Manjalara, the fourth wife of Sultan Abdul Hamid. Together with his mother and her other children, Tunku lived in the pagoda. As soon as he was old enough, Tunku ran outside the palace enclosure to play with boys of his own age who lived in the town. His mother strongly disapproved of it but she was too preoccupied with caring for the Sultan and Tunku's nurses were unable to control him. At that time cholera and malaria were very common all over Kedah and at least two of Tunku's brother and an elder sister died from cholera while Tunku himself suffered from intermittent attacks of malaria until he left for London in 1920.
When Tunku was four years old, he was vaccinated. Although he tried to elude his mother's servants , he was finally caught and taken to his grandmother's room where the painful innoculation took place. When Tunku was six years old , one day , as he was
Tunku was admitted to the Debsurin School. Tunku Yusuf spent his time on military operations againts bandits. a lit fragment of firewood fell on his left ankle and burnt him.toasting keropok (fish fritters) in his mother's kitchen . remained in the palace for three weeks. But the wound turned septic and it was three years before it healed completely and Tunku was able to resume his football games outside the palace. In the afternoon. Tunku was never lonely because he possessed an unrivaled capacity for making friends with people of all communities. When Tunku's eldest brother. including Tunku. Malay and Javanese shadow plays were performed nightly for their entertainment. he contracted pneumonia in the jungle and died on his return to the Siamese capital. In Bangkok. he was circumcised together with seven other boys who were his playmates from town. wishing to conceal the accident from his mother. where lessons were taught in Siamese. Tunku Yusuf returned to Alor Setar from England. It was extremely painful. They attended the same school and were inseparable. The Royal Circumciser performed the minor operations in only a few seconds but the healing was slow. Tunku. Tunku's formal education started when he was about six years old at the only Malay elementary school in Alor Setar. All the patients. His mother had hoped that the school would keep him out of mischief but he often ran away from class. He decided to take Tunku with him to Bangkok by sea from Singapore in 1913. Tunku 2 . wrapped a cloth around his ankle and hoped that it would heal. Tunku's mother sent him there instead. His best friend was Tavil Guptarak. he realized that Tunku was not making any progress in his studies. When a small English medium school was opened by a teacher named Mohamad Iskandar. When Tunku was nine years old. In 1915 . Tunku was taught to read the Quran. The event took place in a room in the palace complex .
By his first wife. a Thai Chinese woman named Meriam Chong. Here . Violet Coulson. When the ship loaded cargo in the Klang River. a representative named Eccles met him to take him to his temporary new home in Little Stukeley near Huntingdon. he was awarded a scholarship which allowed him to further his studies at Cambridge University. Most of the boys were English but when Tunku arrived. Edgar Vigers. with whom he adopted four children. He then married Sharifah Rodziah Syed Alwi Barakbah. Tunku boarded the vessel in Singapore. He managed to get a seat onboard an old 9. he had Tunku Khadijah and Tunku Ahmad Nerang. 1920. the elderly Rector of the parish.000-ton cargo ship which carried only 12 people. Tunku contracted a fresh infection of malaria. When Tunku was 16. On Meriam's death. Sulaiman. His mother then sent him to study in the Penang Free School. Abdul Rahman married at least four times. lived in a brick Recotry which was three storeys high. there were three siamese boys. he married his former landlady in England. including Tunku. He had high fever during the voyage and barely recovered when the ship arrived at Tillbury on June 1 . It was that Tunku began to developed a keen interest in his studies and twice obtained a double promotion. He had registered his name with his Crown Agents.then returned to Kedah accompanied by his brother's widow. Mariam. He supplemented his income by tutoring teenage boys who needed coaching before they sat for a variety of minor examinations. Sharifah Hanizah (granddaughter) and Faridah. and they sent him some students. He was ordered to divorce her by the Regent of Kedah. The Rev. 3 .
was his secretary. him angering the colonial administration cost him many chances of promotion to higher offices. both Malay and Chinese. he returned to England to complete his law studies at the Inner Temple but was forced to stop in 1938. Many people from Kulim today lay claim to owing their lives to the Tunku. the British Administration in Kedah could not do anything as he was a prince and the son of the Sultan. However. had the people's interest at heart. And in 1949. Abdul Rahman met Abdul Razak Hussein (later known as Datuk and Tun). and he used this to his advantage. This made him cross swords with the British Administration many times. He was elected president of the Malay Society of Great Britain. During this period. he qualified for the Bar. At the outbreak of World War II. the Tunku was responsible for saving many lives. During the Japanese Occupation of Kedah. In colonial Malaya. who was the only Malay District Officer at that time. He being of royal blood was highly revered by the Japanese and could not be touched by them. He resumed his studies at the Inner Temple in 1947. He had two daughters with her. Some time later. 4 . he secretly married another Chinese lady named Bibi Chong who converted upon marriage. then twenty-six. However.Wanting to have more children of his own. Abdul Rahman worked in the Kedah public service and was appointed as District Officer of Kulim and Sungai Petani. and Abdul Razak.[ Upon his return home. Tunku Noor Hayati and Tunku Mastura. he returned to Malaya. Abdul Rahman. almost all the District Officers were British.
eventually holding the post for 20 years. He was later appointed as president of the Sessions Court. Abdul Rahman was elected as the new president. 5 . Abdul Rahman led a delegation to London to seek independence for Malaya. nationalism was running high among the Malays. Race relations was the cause of Onn Jaafar stepping down. with Datuk Onn Jaafar leading the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) in the struggle against Britain's Malayan Union (see History of Malaysia). The British were reluctant to grant independence. where he became a Deputy Public Prosecutor. He was popular and later became head of the Kedah branch of UMNO. Abdul Rahman was first posted at the Legal Officer's office in Alor Star. He later asked to be transferred to Kuala Lumpur. In August 1951 an internal crisis in UMNO forced Datuk Onn Jaafar to resign as party president. The coalition proved to be popular among the people. Abdul Rahman saw a way around this by forming a political alliance with the Malayan Chinese Association called the Alliance Party.After his return to Malaya in 1949. He wanted UMNO to be open to the Chinese and Indians but UMNO members were not ready to accept this. In 1954. Abdul Rahman joined UMNO and became active in Malayan nationalist politics. His successor. representing the Indian community. During this period. but the trip proved to be unfruitful. The Alliance was later joined by the Malayan Indian Congress (MIC) in 1955. using the excuse that there needed to be evidence that the different races in Malaya were able to work together and cooperate before independence could be obtained.
Sarawak. and the Alliance Party (Perikatan) won fifty-one out of the fifty-two seats contested. and 1964 general elections. the racial factor was worsened with the inclusion of Singapore. and led the Alliance to landslide wins in the 1959. Sambanthan. and Brunei. Both UMNO and the MCA were nervous about the possible appeal of Lee Kuan Yew's People's Action Party (PAP. made a trip to London to negotiate Malayan independence. then 6 . On 16 September 1963. In 1961 he made a speech at the Foreign Correspondents Association of Southeast Asia in Singapore. When the British flag was lowered in Kuala Lumpur on independence day. with the federation of all these states except Brunei. Abdul Rahman led the crowd in announcing "Merdeka!" (independence). the first federal general election was held. Singapore. However. which increased the Chinese proportion to more than 40%. Abdul Rahman was selected as Malaya's first Chief Minister. Abdul Rahman dominated the politics of independent Malaya (which became Malaysia in 1963). have become familiar icons of Malaysian independence. Later in 1955 Abdul Rahman. The formation of Malaysia was one of Abdul Rahman's greatest achievements. Sabah. Tunku Abdul Rahman proclaiming Malayan independence. Photographs of Abdul Rahman raising his hand. T.In the same year. proposing a federation Malaya. along with Tun Sir Tan Cheng Lock and Tun V. and recordings of his emotional but determined voice leading the cheers. Abdul Rahman was formally restyled Prime Minister of Malaysia. and 31 August 1957 was decided as the date for independence.
despite an earlier agreement that he would not do so (see PAP-UMNO relations). Abdul Rahman announced to the Parliament of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur that it should vote yes on the resolution to have Singapore leave the Federation. The duo later became Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia respectively. choosing to "sever all ties with a State Government that showed no measure of loyalty to its Central Government" as opposed to the undesirable method of repressing the PAP for its actions.seen as a radical socialist party) to voters in Malaya. Abdul Rahman's powers as Prime Minister were severely curtailed. the Alliance's majority was greatly reduced. and on 22 September 1970. On 7 August 1965. and tried to organise a party in Singapore to challenge Lee's position there. Lee in turn threatened to run PAP candidates in Malaya at the 1964 federal elections. Some UMNO leaders led by Tun Abdul Razak were critical of Abdul Rahman's leadership during these events. Singapore's secession and independence became official on 9 August 1965. At the 1969 general election. This provoked Abdul Rahman to demand that Singapore withdraw from Malaysia. Demonstrations following the elections sparked the May 13 racial riots in Kuala Lumpur. in the midst of severe opposition of the 'Young Turks' comprising party rebels such as Mahathir Mohammad and Musa Hitam. He subsequently resigned as UMNO President in June 1971. and an emergency committee MAGERAN took power and declared a state of emergency. he was forced to resign as Prime Minister in favour of Abdul Razak. 7 .
The following year. Abdul Rahman was supported by the third Malaysian Prime Minister. 8 .After making Islam the official religion in 1960. On the occasion of his 80th birthday. the Pestabola Merdeka (Independence Football Festival) in 1957. He was President of PERKIM until a year before his death. he was elected as the first president of Asian Football Confederation (AFC). Therefore he supported and initiated many sports events. One of the events Tunku initiated was an international football tournament. Malaysia must continue as a secular State with Islam as the official religion. In 1961 Malaysia hosted the first International Qur'an Recital Competition. an organisation to help Muslim converts adjust to new lives as Muslims. Tunku Abdul Rahman was a firm believer that sports can be a good catalyst in bringing about greater social unity among Malaysians of various races and religions. an event that developed from Abdul Rahman's idea when he organised the first state-level competition in Kedah in 1951." Being an avid sportsman. Abdul Rahman established the Islamic Welfare Organisation (PERKIM). Hussein Onn." In the same issue of The Star. a post he held until 1976. who stated that the "nation can still be functional as a secular state with Islam as the official religion. Abdul Rahman stated in the The Star newspaper of 9 February 1983 that the "country has a multi-racial population with various beliefs.
Tunku also loved horse racing and was a regular at the Selangor Turf Club. The welleducated. His columns. especially on Friday the 13th for him. In 1977. but its registration was quashed by Mahathir Mohamad. Tun Hussein Onn. Abdul Rahman later supported Semangat 46. a Penang-based newspaper. and in 1987 Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad banned the newspaper. 9 . "Looking Back" and "As I See It". with Abdul Rahman and another former Prime Minister. who set up his own UMNO Baru ("New UMNO"). and that he would win horse races that were held on the 13th of the month. Abdul Rahman became the newspaper's Chairman. were critical of the government. having acquired substantial shares in The Star. He campaigned actively for the latter in the General election of 1990. He claimed that his lucky number is 13. a splinter group of UMNO led by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. setting up a new party called UMNO Malaysia. but was already in very poor health. visionary Tunku clashes with Mahathir's brand of nationalism that was meant to help the economically and socially stunted Malays of Malaysia (allegedly due to the effect of colonial British 'divide and rule' system). This led to a split in UMNO.
he adorned part of the collection of Past Prime Ministers of Malaysia stamps issue. He is the one ³Bapa Merdeka´. His Political Involvement bring a lot of changes in our country. In 2003. and was laid to rest at the Langgar Royal Mausoleum in Alor Star. 10 . stamps of Tunku Abdul Rahman were issued to commemorate his 100th birthday anniversary and to pay tribute to him as he was the first prime minister of Malaysia since Malaysia became an independent nation in 1957. His challenging life must be a good lesson to the future youngest generation.CONCLUSION Tunku Abdul Rahman died on 6 December 1990 at the age of eighty-seven. and was appointed an honorary Companion of the Order of Australia in 1987. Tunku Abdul Rahman was appointed to the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) by Queen Elizabeth II. Awards and recognition y In 1961. y Tunku Abdul Rahman Stamp Issues: In 1991.
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