“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?”

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bapa Kemerdekaan (Part 1)

Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah (February 8, 1903 – December 6, 1990) usually known as "the Tunku" (a princely title in Malaysia), and also called Bapa Kemerdekaan (Father of Independence) or Bapa Malaysia (Father of Malaysia), was Chief Minister of the Federation of Malaya from 1955, and the country's first Prime Minister from independence in 1957. He remained Prime Minister after Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore joined in 1963 to form Malaysia.

Early Life

Born in Istana Pelamin, Alor Setar, Kedah, Abdul Rahman was the fourteenth son and twentieth child of Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah, the twenty-fourth Sultan of Kedah. His mother, Cik Menjalara, was a daughter of Luang Naraborirak (Kleb), a Thai district officer during the reign of King Rama V of Thailand.

Abdul Rahman began his education in 1909 at a Malay Primary School, Jalan Baharu, in Alor Setar and was later transferred to the Government English School, now the Sultan Abdul Hamid College, Alor Setar, where he studied during the day and read the Qur'an in the afternoon. Two years later, when he was eight, he was sent to study at the Thebsirintrawat School (Debsirin School) in Bangkok along with his three brothers. In 1915, he returned and continued his studies at Penang Free School.

In 1918, Abdul Rahman was awarded a Kedah State Scholarship to further his studies at St Catharine's College in the University of Cambridge, where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1925. He was the first student from Kedah to study in the United Kingdom under the sponsorship of the Kedah State Government.

Upon his return home, Abdul Rahman worked in the Kedah public service and was appointed as District Officer of Kulim and Sungai Petani. Some time later he returned to England to complete his law studies at the Inner Temple, but was forced to stop them in 1938 and, on the outbreak of World War II, he returned to Malaya. He resumed his studies at the Inner Temple in 1947 and, in 1949, he qualified for the Bar.

During this period Abdul Rahman met with Abdul Razak Hussein (later known as Datuk and Tun). He was elected president of the Malay Society of Great Britain, and Abdul Razak, who was twenty-six, was his secretary.

Early Political Career

After his return to Malaya in 1949, Abdul Rahman was first posted at the Legal Officer's office in Alor Star. He later asked to be transferred to Kuala Lumpur, where he became a Deputy Public Prosecutor. He was later appointed as president of the Sessions Court.

During this period, nationalism was running high among the Malays, with Datuk Onn Jaafar leading the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) in the struggle against Britain's Malayan Union. (see History of Malaysia). Abdul Rahman joined UMNO and became active in Malayan nationalist politics. In August 1951, and internal crisis in UMNO forced Datuk Onn to resign as party president. Abdul Rahman was elected as the new president, holding the post for 20 years.

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