Some say that the best solutions to future challenges lie with learning from the experiences and struggles of the past.
As such, Malaysians must never forget our past and what our forefathers fought for! Let us also take lessons from their struggles for the people and nation and be guided by their unwavering principles and steadfastness.
Malaysia’s second prime minister, the late Tun Abdul Razak, must surely go down in history as a genuine leader and true Malaysian.
The younger generations of Malaysians have never met him but they must surely know of his valuable contribution to the country while he was with us – a short life of only 53 years which was tragically cut short by leukemia.
Former international trade and industry minister Rafidah Aziz recalled that Razak,who was Umno president at the time, appointed her to the economic bureau where she was asked to examine the welfare and fate of rubber smallholders.
He was concerned that they were oppressed as they did not get a fair deal and suffered from poverty.
“I was a lecturer at the faculty of economics and administration, University of Malaya. I felt very proud to be given this task. I did the best I could and submitted the report which recommended the formation of Risda to take on the welfare of the smallholders.
He accepted my proposal and I was appointed to Risda’s board. In 1974, he selected me to be a senator, and later a state assemblyperson, said Rafidah, adding: “for that I owe him a debt that cannot be repaid.”
Razak was a man who listened intently and held onto a clear vision for the country and people. He focused on the country’s development issues, the equitable distribution of wealth and socio-economic imbalances.
“He never “played politics”, the only politics he knew was for the betterment of the country and its people.
“There was no “hype” that carried his leadership, he did what he thought and knew to be fair for all; not to gain popularity but because it was the right thing to do.
“I always remind myself that I was in the presence of the forefathers of Malaysia’s independence.
“There is so much I have learnt about the politics of development and national integration from genuine leaders - those who hold onto integrity, wisdom and without self-interest,” she said.
Rafidah affirmed that she was one of those brought up in an era where the political culture allowed them to be respected, but that culture has been eroded through time and is less motivated by the strengths of national unity and the demands of a country like Malaysia, which strives on its diversity.
“Tears flowed freely that day Tun Razak passed away. In such a short time, a strong foundation for the nation’s development was built under his leadership. He left a legacy which future leaders could build on and strengthen the nation further,” said Rafidah.
Razak never wanted to use the powers granted under the National Operations Council (NOC) and even seemed fearful of them, said Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Speaking about his father, Najib said Razak did what many others would not by restoring parliamentary rule.
“Indeed, his actions went against the grain of many leaders in the world and in the region at the time. He never wanted to use the powers he wielded.”
Najib said that by 1971, peace and order had been restored in the country and Razak had re-established parliamentary rule. For that alone, Tun Abdul Razak would be remembered as one of Malaysia’s greatest leaders.
In an ironic turn, the Najib-led government of the day recently tabled the contentious National Security Council (NSC) Bill that could very likely grant emergency powers to the prime minister.
Naturally, the Bill has come under heavy criticism by politicians, legal groups and human rights activists.
Razak was a staunch believer of democracy and this was proven when he returned power to Parliament.
In paying tribute to Razak, former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the former could have continued to rule through the National Operations Council (NOC) following the suspension of Parliament in 1969.
Parliament was suspended at the time and an emergency rule was put in place following the May 13 racial riots.
However, Abdullah said Razak wanted to return power to Parliament and give democracy back to the people as he believed a strong Parliament would help the country achieve better success.
“After the establishment of the NOC, the process to return power back to Parliament was Tun Razak’s best policy,” he said at a Special Commemorative Seminar on Tun Abdul Razak on Jan 14.
Earlier, Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein echoed this view that Tun Razak could have ruled through the NOC but did not do so and instead led his government to victory in the 1974 elections.
Thursday, 14 Jan 2016 marked the 40th anniversary of Tun Razak’s passing.
Indeed, Malaysians can learn a lot from this great man.