HISTORY OF MALAYSIA
TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN PUTRA (1957 - 1970)
For his contributions and sacrifices in bringing the country from colonialism to independence, Tunku Abdul Rahman is known as the Father of Independence. He became the first prime minister of the Federation of Malaya from 1957 to 1963, and of Malaysia from 1963 to 1970.
Tunku was born on February 8, 1903 in Alor Setar, the capital of the State of Kedah. He is the seventh prince of Sultan Abdul Hamid Shah, the twenty fourth Sultan of Kedah, and Che Manjalara. Said to be a robust and bright boy with a particular fondness for sports, Tunku received his early education at the Debsurin School, Bangkok and Penang Free School.
On a Kedah Government scholarship, he went on to study at St. Catherine's College, Cambridge University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in law and history in 1925. A firsthand experience in racial discrimination with the college's administration was said to have intensified his conviction in fighting for equality and ignited his desire in making his homeland an independent state, free from British colonialism.
His leadership flair also unfolded in England. Realizing the Malay students there were not represented by any organization, he established the Kesatuan Melayu Great Britain (Malay Association of Great Britain) and became its first secretary.
After returning home, he joined the Kedah Civil Service as a cadet in the Legal Advisor's Office, and then as a district officer in several Kedah districts. He proved unpopular among some British officials thanks to his outspokenness and tendency to introduce reforms in his quest to improve the living standards of the people.
His attempt at completing his law studies
at the Inner Temple in England in 1938 came to a halt due the outbreak
of the Second World War. He resumed his studies eight years later and
came home with his legal qualifications in 1949.
The political awareness he gained while making friends with people from various nations in England did not go to waste, when he was made chairman of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) soon after his return. On August 26, 1951, Tunku became the UMNO President succeeding Dato' Onn Jaafar. He traveled all over the country meeting people from all walks of life to promote unity. His efforts in overcoming the country's political problems by way of cooperation among the various ethnic groups saw the birth of the Alliance Party in 1955.
Under his leadership, the Alliance won the country's first general election in July 1955. Tunku was then appointed the country's Chief Minister and Minister of Home Affairs. In 1956, he led a mission to London for a discussion with the British government concerning the independence for Malaya. The meeting resulted in the signing of the Independent Treaty at Lancaster House in London on February 8, 1956 and consequently, the independence of Malaya in August 31, 1957. Tunku was then elected as the first Prime Minister of Malaya, and led the Alliance to victory in the 1959, 1964 and 1969 general elections.
In May 1961, Tunku proposed the idea of Malaysia - a federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, North Borneo (later called Sabah) and Brunei. All but Brunei joined in the federation on July 9, 1963. Singapore however withdrew from Malaysia in 1965 due to disputes. On Sept 22, 1970, Tunku stepped down as the Prime Minister and was succeeded by Tun Abdul Razak.
Tunku, who was blessed with seven children from his marriage to the late Sharifah Rodziah Syed Alwi Barakbah, passed away in 1990.
TUN ABDUL RAZAK BIN DATO' HUSSEIN (1970 - 1976)
Tun Abdul Razak succeeded Tunku Abdul Rahman as the second Prime Minister of Malaysia, heading the country from 1970 to 1976.
Born in Pulau Keladi, Pahang on March 11, 1922, Tun Razak is the only child to Dato' Hussein bin Mohd Taib and Hajah Teh Fatimah bt Daud. A bright student, Tun Razak received his early education at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar in 1934.
After joining the Malay Administrative Service in 1939, he was awarded a scholarship to study at Raffles College in Singapore in 1940. His studies at the college ceased with the onset of the Second World War.
With a Malayan Union scholarship, Tun
Razak left for Britain in 1947 to study law. In 1950 he received a
Degree of an Utter Barrister from Lincoln's Inn. During his student days
in England, Tun Razak was a member of the British Labour Party and a
prominent student leader of the Kesatuan Melayu Great Britain (Malay
Association of Great Britain). He also formed the Malayan Forum, an organization
for Malayan students to discuss their country's political
Upon his return, Tun Razak joined the Malayan Civil Service. Owing to his political caliber, in 1950 he became the youth chief for United Malays National Organization (UMNO). Two years later, he worked as the Assistant State Secretary of Pahang and in February 1955, at just 33 years of age, became Pahang's Chief Minister. He stood in and won the country's first general elections in July 1955 and was appointed as the Education Minister. Tun Razak was also a member of the February 1956 mission to London to seek the independence of Malaya from the British.
After the general elections in 1959, he became the Minister of Rural Development in addition to holding the portfolios of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. His achievements include formulating the development policy known as the Red Book. On September 1970, Tun Razak succeeded Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra as the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Tun Razak is also renowned for launching the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1971. He and the "second generation" of Malay politicians saw the need to tackle vigorously the economic and social disparities which fuelled racial antagonism. The NEP set two basics goals - to reduce and eventually eradicate poverty, and to reduce and eventually eradicate identification of economic function with race.
Tun Razak set up the National Front on January 1, 1973 to replace the ruling Alliance Party. He increased the membership of its parties and coalitions in an effort to establish "Ketahanan Nasional" (National Strength) through political stability.
For his contributions in the area of national and rural development, Tun Abdul Razak is known as the Father of Development.
TUN HUSSEIN ONN (1976 - 1981)
Tun Hussein Onn was Malaysia’s third prime minister, leading the country from 1976 to 1981. He was born in Johor Bahru, Johor on February 12, 1922 to Dato Onn Jaafar and Datin Halimah Hussein.
He received his early education in
Singapore and at the English College in Johor Bahru. After leaving
school, he joined the Johor Military Forces as a cadet in 1940 and was
sent a year later to the Indian Military Academy in Dehra Dun, India.
Upon completion of his training, he was absorbed into the Indian Army
and served in the Middle East when the Second World War broke. After the
war, his vast experience prompted the British to employ him as an
instructor at the Malayan Police Recruiting and Training Centre in
Tun Hussein came back to Malaysia in 1945 and was appointed Commandant of the Johor Bahru Police Depot. The following year he joined the Malaya Civil Service as an assistant administrative officer in Segamat, Johor. He was later posted to the state of Selangor, becoming Kelang and Kuala Selangor’s district officer.
Tun Hussein, who came from a family with deep nationalistic spirit and political roots, resigned from the civil service to go into politics. In 1949, he became the first youth chief of UMNO (United Malays National Organization), a party his father helped established. In 1950, he was elected the UMNO secretary general. Tun Hussein however left UMNO in 1951 to join his father in forming the Independence of Malaya Party (IMP).
With IMP losing momentum, Tun Hussein went to London to study law at Lincoln’s Inn, qualifying as a Barrister-at-Law. He came back as a certified lawyer and practiced in Kuala Lumpur.
Tun Hussein returned to politics in 1968 after being persuaded by Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak to rejoin UMNO. He stood in and won the general elections in 1969 and was then appointed as the education minister. Tun Hussein’s meteoric rise continued when on August 13, 1973 he succeeded the late Tun Dr Ismail as the Deputy Prime Minister. On January 15, 1976 he was appointed as the prime minister of Malaysian after the passing away of Tun Razak.
Tun Hussein is renowned for stressing on the issue of unity through policies aimed at rectifying economic imbalances between the communities. For instance, April 20, 1981 saw the National Unit Trust Scheme being launched. He also gave serious consideration to the concept of Rukun Tetangga and the fight against the drug menace.
Tun Hussein, who was married to Toh Puan Suhaila Tan Sri Haji Mohd Noah, underwent a coronary bypass in early 1981. On July 17 the same year, he retired from active politics and relinquished his prime minister post due to health concerns. He passed away on May 29, 1990 at the age of 68.
For his efforts in promoting goodwill among the various communities, Tun Hussein Onn is remembered as the Father of Unity.
TUN DR MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD (1981 - 2003)
- born Dec 20th, 1925, Alor Setar, Kedah, Malay states [now in Malaysia]
In full TUN DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD, MOHAMAD also spelled MOHAMED or MUHAMMED, Malaysian politician who served as prime minister from 1981 - 2003 and oversaw his country's transition to an industrialized nation
The son of a schoolmaster, Mahathir was educated at Sultan Abdul Hamid College and the University of Malaya (King Edward VII College of Medicine) in Singapore, where he studied medicine. After graduating in 1953 he worked as a government medical officer until 1957 when he set up his own private practice in Alor Setar, Kedah. Dr. Mahathir has been active in politics since 1945. He has been a member of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) since its inception in 1946. He was first elected to Parliament in 1964 as a member of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the dominant party within the ruling governmental coalition. In 1969, however, Mahathir was expelled from the UMNO after his forceful advocacy of ethnic Malay nationalism brought him into conflict with Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman. (Though politically dominant, Malaysia's ethnic Malay majority was much poorer than the ethnic Chinese minority, which dominated the economy.) The New Economic Policy that the government adopted in 1971 to improve the economic situation of Malays embodied many of the ideas Mahathir had advocated.
Owing to his keen interest in the country's education, he was appointed Chairman of the first Higher Education Council in 1968, Member of the Higher Education Advisory Council in 1972, Member of the University Court and University of Malaya Council, and Chairman of the National University Council in 1974. After Tun Abdul Razak became prime minister in 1970, Mahathir rejoined UMNO and was reelected to its Supreme Council in 1972. In 1973, Dr. Mahathir was appointed a Senator, a post he relinquished in order to contest in the 1974 General Elections. He was reelected to Parliament unopposed in 1974 and was then appointed Minister of Education. When Datuk Hussein bin Onn became prime minister in 1976, he made Mahathir his Deputy Prime Minister in addition to being Minister of Education. In a Cabinet reshuffle two years later, he relinquished the Education portfolio for that of Trade and Industry. As Minister of Trade and Industry, he led several investment promotion missions overseas.
Dr. Mahathir was elected as one of the three Vice Presidents of UMNO in 1975. In 1978, he won the Deputy President seat. In June 1981, soon after Datuk Hussein had announced his retirement, Mahathir was elected president of the UMNO, which ensured his succession as the Fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia on 16 July 1981. He was the first commoner to hold that office. He was returned unopposed as President in 1984. In the 1987 party elections, Dr. Mahathir defeated his challenger to retain the Presidency and in 1990 and 1993, he was again returned unopposed as party President. Under his leadership, the ruling party Barisan Nasional (National Front) won landslide victories in the 1982, 1986, 1990, 1995 and 1999 General Elections.
Mahathir weathered several challenges to his leadership from within the UMNO, which won four general elections under his leadership in the period from 1982 to 1995. His long prime ministry gave Malaysia the political stability it needed to pursue policies that would foster sustained economic growth. The government welcomed foreign investment, reformed the tax structure, reduced trade tariffs, and privatized numerous state-owned enterprises. Mahathir sought to bridge Malaysia's remaining ethnic divisions by increasing general prosperity. In this regard, the New Economic Policy, which had encouraged Malay economic success, was replaced in 1991 by the New Development Policy, which emphasized general economic growth and the elimination of poverty. Under Mahathir's leadership, Malaysia acquired one of the most prosperous and dynamic economies in Southeast Asia, with a burgeoning manufacturing sector, an expanding middle class, rising literacy rates, and increased life expectancies.
Dr. Mahathir is married to a doctor, Datin Seri Dr. Siti Hasmah bt Mohd Ali, and they have seven children Marina, Mirzan, Melinda, Mokhzani, Mukhriz, Maizura, and Mazhar and ten grandchildren
DATO' SERI ABDULLAH AHMAD BADAWI (2003 - present)
Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, affectionately known as "Pak Lah", is the fifth and current Prime Minister of Malaysia. Abdullah was born on November 26, 1939, in the northern Malaysian island of Penang. He received a Bachelor of Science in Islamic Studies from the University of Malaya in 1964. He held a series of civil service posts, including deputy secretary general (1974-78) in the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, before entering politics. Abdullah was elected to parliament in 1978 for his constituency in Kepala Batas (Penang), and begin his rise in the government and UMNO, serving as education (1984-86), defense (1986-87), foreign (1991-99) and, finally, deputy prime minister (1999-2003) following the dismissal of Anwar Ibrahim. In 2003 he succeeded Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad as prime minister of Malaysia. Calling for modern and progressive Islamic rule as well as reform, he led the Barisan Nasional coalition to a stunning landslide victory in the 2004 parliamentary elecitons, by winning 198 out of 220 seats in parliament, and wresting control of the Terengganu state government back from the opposition.