December 1st, 2015

Respect sanctity of Bahasa Malaysia

IT would seem that the position of Bahasa Malaysia (BM) as the national language is being challenged by enthusiasts of the English language who want English to be the second official language to be used in Parliament and state assemblies.

Some even suggest that the English language replace BM as the medium of instruction in our educational system, but with a face-saving gesture that BM be continued as a subject with the proviso that students must obtain a credit in that subject.

Such pronouncements ignore the fact that Malay is enshrined in the Constitution as the official and national language. Let us be reminded that the essence and ethos of any civilisation is reflected in its norms and values, traditions, artistic expressions and especially its language.

Language is the core of any human civilisation as it is used to record its evolution as well as express various experiences of its evolution and existence. In fact, the psyche, thoughts and expressions of creativity of its people are through its language.

So, language is the pride of its people, and to belittle the language is to humiliate its people. Just look at nations around the world such as France, Germany, Spain, Greece and Israel.

They regard their language with pride and esteem, and regard with hostility those who deride their mother tongue.

But, in Malaysia, there has emerged a trend to challenge and undermine the Malay language. It would seem that certain sectors of the people have a stigma against the Malay language, looking condescendingly at it as one bereft of intellectual capacity and capability.

These people may not be aware that Malay was the lingua franca of this region known as the Old Malay World that comprised most of the Asean countries.

It was a language of intellect and commerce. Historical records and literary works, such as hikayat, syair, and traditional medical compendium, such as Kitab Tib, were recorded in the Jawi script, which is now almost defunct.

The Constitution clearly states that Malay is the national and official language of Malaysia. There should not be any unilateral or multilateral attempt to undermine the sanctity of the language by proposing English to be the second official language and the main medium of instruction in schools and universities.

This does not mean that we are discarding English. As in countries such as France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece, among others, where their respective languages are paramount in every sphere of governance, the English language is now widely used for international relations and corporate engagements.

Likewise, there should be uniformity in the use of the official language in the governance of this country that incorporates administration, security, justice, education and in the deliberations of the lawmakers in Parliament.

Diplomatic engagements and international commerce may be conducted in English or other languages as the case may be. But to deny the Malay language its constitutionally sanctioned and pivotal position and to negate its importance as the lingua franca of the Malay Archipelago (spoken by almost 300 million people) even before the advent of the Indian and Islamic influence is tantamount to disrespect.

This unfortunate position is due to the fact that even after 58 years of independence, a sizeable number of our citizenry is unable to converse, let alone write intelligently, in the national language.

One cannot deny that the existence of vernacular schools has contributed to the stigma against the Malay language.

It is imperative that this language issue be put in its proper perspective according to the tenets of the Constitution, and the practised and accepted conventions underlined by the reality of the acquisition of knowledge and global engagements, without sacrificing the sanctity of the national language. Mohamed Ghouse Nasuruddin, Penang The NST Online 30 November 2015

STEM grads must be competent in English

IN line with the Education Ministry’s aspiration to have secondary school leavers adequately proficient in two or even three languages, the Dual Language Programme (DLP) will be launched next year. Under the DLP, students can choose to study a subject in either Bahasa Malaysia (BM) or English.

The ministry has set three criteria for schools to qualify for DLP. These are available learning resources, qualified teachers and parental approval. Schools are either selected by the ministry or have to apply to implement the programme. Initially, only 300 schools (primary as well as secondary) will be targeted to run the programme.

Nevertheless, implementation will be in stages with 20 to 30 schools acting as pilots next year. All this is well and good.

For students to be proficient, competent and confident in any language, it is a fact that sufficient exposure time in the language is a determining factor.

All schools must try their best to offer students the option of DLP at the soonest possible time. The ministry must also be perceived to be bold in leading changes and be ready to offer help to all aspiring schools and students. Here are a few areas of concern that I think the ministry or the government’s Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) should address.



All schools must try to offer students the option of the Dual Language Programme at the soonest possible time.
FIRSTLY, primary schoolchildren who have followed the DLP should continue in the programme when they move on to secondary school.

This may not be the case if only a few selected or approved schools, primary as well as secondary, are allowed to run the DLP.

Without continuity, earlier efforts put in to hone their language skills will go to waste, besides bringing confusion and frustration to the students concerned and their parents.

This would be most unfair. This leads us to think that the “incubation” period for DLP should not be prolonged. We are looking at tens of thousands of affected students each year if the programme is delayed for final full implementation. Perhaps a more “aggressive” approach, involving many more schools even at the initial stage, should be strategised.

SECONDLY, in the past few years, the ministry has conducted tests to gauge the competency level of teachers teaching the English language in schools.

Subsequently, many of these teachers were called to attend courses in “Upskilling of English”. It has been reported that as a result of these courses, many teachers had improved their competency in teaching the English language.

However, it must be pointed out that these are all English language teachers or teachers teaching English language as a subject.

Now for DLP, we need teachers of other subjects, like Science and Mathematics, who can teach in English. From what I have gathered, no Science and Mathematics teachers so far have been enlisted for any “Upskilling of English” course.

There was some such retraining when PPSMI (the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English) was on.

However, these training courses fizzled out after the abolition of PPSMI. So, are we to expect the English language teachers to teach Science and Mathematics in English under the DLP?

I shudder at the thought!

THIRDLY, under the present policy, all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects are taught in English from Form Six/pre-university.

This means that Science and Mathematics graduates have undergone all the relevant courses in English while they are in university.

They would have been exposed to English textbooks, references, citations and lectures for four or more years while in university, not counting their pre-university years.

So how is it that when they become teachers, they are suddenly “lost” in English? It is most intriguing, to say the least.

The failure of teachers to teach competently in English was a main reason for abolishing PPSMI back then. This raises the question: What is actually happening in the teaching of Stem courses in English in our universities today?

DLP for STEM subjects especially will not see the light of day if our present teaching and training practices fail to produce Stem graduates competent to teach in English.

In conclusion, it seems to me that the success of DLP depends on factors that go beyond the confines of the school walls. The ministry has to adopt a more wholesome approach.

See also: DLP Needs holistic approach

Students overcame fear to speak in public

WHILE the long school break provides an opportunity for students to unwind by taking a vacation with their families or spending time on their hobbies, it is also a perfect time for them to join programmes that benefit their wellbeing and future.

They may attend tuition, music or martial arts classes, or participate in fun activities that develop their confidence, thinking skills and passions.

I was thrilled to have participated in the Mega Trenglish Camp (MTC) for three days, and I would love to share my experience as a teacher in-charge of the programme attended by 175 Form Four students from Terengganu.

They not only came from different types of school but were also of different religions, races, social backgrounds, levels of English proficiency, personalities and talents.

The aim of the programme was to promote English among students, develop their creative and innovative skills, forge bonds between teenagers with different stories of life, bridge the gap between the well-off and the underprivileged, and teach students about the importance of teamwork, knowledge, unity, respect and having goals in life.

I was surprised to see many participants sharing ideas and experiences during every session. With encouragement and help from newfound friends, they overcame their fears and anxiety to speak in front of an audience, despite having difficulty in choosing the right words to convey meanings.

With an ice-breaker and team- building activities, they mixed easily and built camaraderie, not only with team members, but also with the rest of the participants and facilitators.

Their eagerness to ask questions during sessions with speakers proved their interest, confidence, concentration and curiosity about issues, especially relating to ways to succeed in their studies and careers.

This positive attitude and feedback show that learning experiences are more meaningful and joyful if the right approaches and strategies are applied.

Not only has MTC helped participants make new friends, but it has also been a physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally healthy programme that benefits the students.

I hope that government or non-governmental bodies will conduct such programmes that focus on discipline, leadership and motivation to learn and improve communication skills, especially during the school holidays. MUHAMAD SOLAHUDIN RAMLI, Marang, Terengganu NST Online 1 December 2015

Well-dressed teachers suited for the job

THE late American author John Henrik Clarke said: “A good teacher, like a good entertainer first must hold his audience’s attention, and then he can teach his lesson.”

He is right and I can relate with my own experiences.

I developed an interest to read books in Bahasa Malaysia, although I was more comfortable reading English books.

Looking back, I considered the writers as my mentors.

When we are attracted to a teacher, we are inclined to like the subject that he teaches. I believe that being a great teacher is a constant struggle to keep improving.

Teachers must have qualities that are different from others. They must have a passion for teaching. Some teachers may think that change is threatening.

Most of the time, we expect students to change for the better, but many times, we forget to change ourselves. It has to be a two-way street. What about self- reflection?

The failures and the triumphs in a classroom should be analysed.

Some people argue that a teacher’s dressing influences students. I used to admire teachers who dressed like the stars. They followed the dress code but the way they carried themselves inspired me.

Having a good dress sense gives students a head start in the classroom.

Teachers may become the objects of students’ adoration. In the past, English teachers were known not only for their up-to-date dressing but also for their flawless grammar.

Sadly, the situation is not the same anymore.

While I agree that teachers are not in school to participate in a beauty contest, there is nothing wrong with investing in nice clothing and being a bit fashionable to influence our learners with a good intention.

I have heard students comment that the dressing of some teachers is nothing to shout about. Some wear faded dresses, over-sized clothes and there are those with unkempt hair, tattoos, piercing and heavy make-up.

What do students take away from these teachers?

Some people could argue that dressing is an individual thing and cannot be associated with students’ performances.

Be that as it may, teaching is a noble profession and teachers should be remunerated adequately so that it will be shown in their dressing.

Let’s dress up well and hold the attention of our students. SUMATI MUNIANDY, Johor Baru, Johor NST Online 1 December 2015

Your gift to your kids is to spend time with them

THE most anticipated time of the year for students is here. Schools are closed till Jan 3. Students may release themselves from education commitments and have plans to occupy themselves during the break.

Some will take a trip to either a local or overseas destination, some will participate in programmes organised by non-governmental organisations, such as camping and motivational workshops.

To all parents, please make sure you have planned activities for your children. This is the best time to be with them since they are free.

There are parents who always send their children to visit the grandparents.

They think that children will enjoy the activities in their hometown. However, without realising it, this may burden the grandparents. As a parent, our role is to be with them.

The most valuable present for your children is your time with them. Take leave and enjoy these moments with your family. During the school holidays, most television channels air movies and cartoons.

The programmes may be suitable but it will be great if children watch television programmes that can boost their self-development. I remember watching informative television programmes during my school holidays.

They included subjects like house cleaning, time management and interpersonal communication. Such programmes can develop students’ behaviour and attitude.

A trend faced by many parents is their children being too attached to their gadgets. It is not wrong to allow them to play with electronic devices but this must be controlled.

Furthermore, parents should be wary if children want to hang out with their friends. According to a survey conducted among residents of a drug rehabilitation centre in Malacca, 27.8 per cent of children agreed that lack of attention from their parents led them to getting involved in drug abuse.

Last but not least, use the time with your children as time flies so fast. Do not tell them that you are busy with your work. Remember your loved ones. They deserve quality time with you.

See also : Have a meaningful school holiday SYAZMIR SHUHAIMI,Klang, Selangor NST Online 1 December 2015

Coping with challenges of 21st century learning

I ATTENDED a seminar on “Empowering English Language Teachers to Become 21st Century Educators” at a public university recently.

The discussion was an eye-opener as the speaker shared his experiences, opinions and hopes on the topic.

The speaker highlighted four pillars of education for the 21st century – to know, to do, to live together and to be.

As teachers impart knowledge to the millennial generation, these four primary purposes of learning should be the focus in producing balanced individuals who are able to value the learning experience by exercising healthy and exemplary lifestyles and upholding strong virtues.

As we work on creating an education system that is not too academic so that meaningful and lifelong learning can take place, to solely concentrate on equipping learners with knowledge is not enough. Under the concept of “learning to do”, they need to apply their knowledge creatively and appropriately in real life, provided that their actions and decisions can benefit others.

Their ability to understand the knowledge they gain should teach them to live together, respect one another and develop a strong wil­lingness to learn about other cultures, traditions and values as far as our plural society is concerned.

They should realise that discrimination, prejudice and stereotyping will lead to disharmony and disunity.

Education should shape the learners’ personality and develop their thinking abilities to help them become well-mannered, wise, humble and passionate persons whose yearning to discover new knowledge never fades.

When learners succeed to meet the fourth objective of “learning to be”, they are unlikely to be easily influenced by negative peers who will manipulate inquisitive and immature minds to engage in enjoyable but unworthy habits and hobbies.

The resistance from these bad influences will help reduce youth involvement in crime and immo­ral activities.

While educators need to cope with new challenges and tensions in educating different types of learners of Generation Y, English teachers need to ensure that students are proficient in the language without eroding their roots and losing their national identity, especially their acquired skills in speaking their mother tongues.

This effort of preserving the beauty of the first language and originality of the culture, tradition and customs with which they grow up should not be given less attention and importance.

At the end of the day, our mother tongue will be endangered and worse, the next gene­ration will not be able to converse in their mother tongues, let alone, be fluent in using the language.

Nevertheless, these challenges should not make English teachers resort to applying limited strategies in helping students master their second language.

Instead, the teachers should stay motivated and explore creative and effective pedagogy that include both western and local contexts while helping learners reason the purpose of learning.

Teachers need to conduct researches and consider suggestions from experts as they strive to accomplish the goal of producing intellectuals with excellent proficiency in both national and international languages.

Muhamad Solahudin Ramli , Marang The STAR Home News Letters 30 November 2015

DLP needs holistic approach

THE Dual Language Programme (DLP) is set to be launched next year in line with the Education Ministry’s aspiration to have secondary school leavers adequately proficient in two or even three languages.

Under the DLP students can choose to study a subject in either of two languages, that is, Bahasa Malaysia (BM) or English.

The ministry has set three criteria for schools to qualify for the DLP. These are:

1) Available learning resources;

2) Qualified teachers; and

3) Parental approval.

Schools are either selected by the ministry or have to apply to implement the programme.

Initially only 300 schools (primary and secondary) will be targeted for the programme.

Nevertheless, implementation will be in stages with some 20 or 30 schools acting as pilot projects next year.

All this is well and good. For students to be proficient, competent and confident in any language, it is an established fact that sufficient exposure time in the language is an important determining factor. All schools must try their level best to offer their students soonest possible the option of DLP.

On the other hand, the ministry must also be perceived to be bold to lead change and ready to offer help to all aspiring schools and students.

Here are a few areas of concern that I think the ministry and/or Pemandu should address.

First, primary students who have followed the DLP should continue in the programme when they move on to secondary school. This may not be the case if only a few selected or approved schools, primary as well as secondary, are allowed to run the DLP.

Without continuity, earlier efforts put in to hone their language skills will go to waste besides causing confusion and frustration to the students concerned and their parents. This is most unfair!

This leads us to think that the “incubation” period for the DLP should not drag. We are looking at tens of thousands of affected students each year the programme is delayed for final full implementation. Perhaps a more “aggressive” approach involving many more schools even at the initial stage should be strategised.

Second, in the past few years, the ministry had conducted tests to gauge the competency level of teachers of the English Language in schools. Subsequently, many of these teachers were called to attend courses in “Upskilling of English”.

It is reported that as a result of these courses, many teachers have improved their competency in teaching the English Language. However, it must be pointed out that these are all English teachers or those teaching the English Language as a subject.

For the DLP, we need teachers of other subjects, like Science and Mathematics, who can teach these subjects in English. From what I have gathered, no Science and Mathematics teachers thus far have been enlisted for any “Upskilling of English” courses.

There was some such retraining when PPSMI (the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English) was on. However, these training courses fizzled out after the abolition of PPSMI.

So, are we to expect the English teachers to teach Science and Mathematics in English under the DLP? I shudder at the thought!

Third, under the present policy, all STEM (Sciences, Technologies, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects are taught in English from Form Six/Pre-University onwards. This means that our Sciences and Mathematics graduates had undergone all the relevant courses in English while they were in university. They would have been exposed to English textbooks, references, citations and lectures for four or more years while in university; not counting their pre-university years.

So, how is it that when they decide to become teachers, they are suddenly “lost” in English? It is most intriguing, to say the least.

Failure of teachers to teach the subjects competently in English was a main reason for abolishing PPSMI back then.

This raises the question: What is actually happening in the teaching of STEM courses in English in our universities today?

The DLP for STEM subjects especially will not see the light of day if our present teaching and training practices fail to produce STEM graduates competent to teach in English.

In conclusion it seems that the success of DLP depends on factors that go beyond the confines of the school walls. The ministry has to adopt a more holistic approach.

See also : STEM grads must be competent in English

Liong Kam Chong Seremban The STAR Home News Letters 1 December 2015

Over 2,000 'Datuk', 'Datuk Seri', 'Tan Sri' and 'Tuns' at federal level

KUALA LUMPUR: Minister in Prime Minister's Department Datuk Azalina Othman Said revealed that there are 2,256 honorary order titles at the federal level.

Of this number, 85 carry the title of ‘Tun’ with 42 Seri Maharaja Mangku Negara award holders and another 43 who received Seri Setia Mahkota award. Azalina said this in a written reply to Nga Kor Ming (Taiping-DAP), who asked for the actual number of individuals who received the titles ‘Dato’, ‘Dato Seri’, ‘Tan Sri’ and ‘Tun’.

Nga also asked the government to comment on the Royal address of the Johor Sultan who had commented that there were too many individuals carrying the title "Datuk".

"There are 134 Panglima Mangku Negara award holders and 886 Panglima Setia Mahkota.
The number of Federal titles presented to its recipients.

Both the awards carry the title of ‘Tan Sri’," Azalina said. "

There are 976 Panglima Jasa Negara award recipients and Panglima Setia DiRaja, 175.

Both the awards carry the title ‘Datuk’," she added. The number includes recipients who are no longer alive.

Azalina also said that the honorary order titles awarded at state level are the prerogative of the Rulers of the respective states.

"The records of the recipients are coordinated by the state secretary's office," she added.

How it all started 69 years ago

ON March 1, 1946, a large-scale all-Malay congress was held at Sultan Sulaiman Club, Kampung Baru, in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

The first-ever Malay Congress, organised by the Selangor Malays Association was attended by representatives from 41 Malay organisations throughout Malaya, and Datuk Sir Onn Jaafar, from Johor Malays Association, was congress chair.

After the four-day meeting, the congress decided on three things, to donate for the national Malay education, to oppose the establishment of the Malayan Union and set up the United Malays National Organisation (Umno).

A committee, consisting of Onn, Datuk Panglima Bukit Gantang, Datuk Nik Ahmad Kamil, Datuk Hamzah Abdullah and Zainal Abidin Ahmad, was chosen to prepare the Umno constitution to be presented in the next Malay Congress.

At the third Malay Congress on May 11, 1946, held at Istana Besar in Johor Baru, attendees from 29 Malay-based organisations accepted and passed the Umno constitution, with the consent from the then Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail and Umno was born.


This was where it all began, 69 years ago. Onn became a revered Malay leader, honoured for his vigour to champion the Malays and from then, Umno became an organisation that played an active and significant role to object the Malayan Union set up by the British in April the same year.

In 1947, Onn was appointed as the Johor menteri besar, a move by the then Sultan Ibrahim I, which gave recognition to the Malays and Umno leaders.

As the years progressed, Onn felt the need to include non-Malays in Umno, to increase the numbers in the party to fight against colonialism.

In May 1949 at an Umno delegates assembly in Arau, 14 to eight delegates voted for Onn’s proposal to give associate memberships to non-Malays.

At the assembly, Onn urged for a wider political outlook and said: “It is absolutely important for Malays to obtain closer relations with other people in this country.

It is time for us to take the view wider than the ‘kampung’ view. Let it not be said that Malays are narrow-minded and suspicious.” Selangor Umno, meanwhile, rejected the motion with 25 to 11 votes.

Party members threatened that if Umno was to open its doors to non-Malays, the “Malays in kampungs would throw away their Umno badges”. Onn’s ideals were eventually accepted, and the party allowed non-Malays to join as associate members.

Only one associate member, a Ceylonese, attended the party’s general assembly held in Butterworth, Penang, in 1949. Umno veteran Datuk Malik Munip said Onn’s bold attempt to open the party’s door to non-Malays was reasonable but faced rejection as there was a lack of clarity in how a “Malay” was defined. Malays at that time, he said, were at odds on how the government under Onn’s leadership would define the characteristics of a Malay. “Malay was not defined as a single ethnic group.

In fact, it was a common denominator of various races. “It (Malay) also referred to a national group living in a geo-cultural region called the Malay archipelago consisting of various ethnic groups.” Malik said the Malays did not know how to respond to Onn’s ideals of a multicultural Umno due to lack of clarity. “

The number of non-Malays who were considered citizen at that time was small. Umno needed more supporters to fend themselves against colonialism.” It was at the 1949 general assembly that things took a turn.

During the closing session, Onn announced that he would be taking “indefinite leave” as Johor menteri besar to tour the country and learn more about his people. Onn continued to face further difficulty when a citizen proposal for a communities liaison committee (CLC) — containing equal rights for all ethnic groups — was accepted.

This was met with strong dissent, with members condemning and accusing Onn of being a “traitor to Malays and the country”.

Following this, Onn resigned as Umno president, together with the entire exco line-up on June 12, 1950. A meeting was held a few days later to plead for him to stay, with members saying that Umno could not afford to lose his guidance.

In July, Onn later consented to be nominated as president following a mass demonstration in front of his residence in Johor Baru, where more than 4,000 people participated.

After being re-elected, Onn continued to push for an open policy for Umno, saying the party had reached the stage that it should be expanded and put on a full national footing by offering equal membership rights and privileges to all races. He proposed the party to be renamed as United Malayan Organisation but this idea was not well received.

In April 1951, at the Umno General Assembly, Onn announced he would give up his presidency in August and the party persuaded Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra to take the helm.

After his leave from Umno, Onn formed Independence of Malaya Party, and later formed Parti Negara in 1953.

Tunku's rise and fall

AT 48, Tunku Abdul Rahman became the second Umno president on Aug 26, 1951, succeeding party founder Datuk Sir Onn Jaafar, who resigned to form the Independence of Malaya Party (IMP).

A year after taking office, Tunku became the driving force behind a very important development in Malayan politics. His first challenge was the 1952 Kuala Lumpur municipal elections.

The elections had intended to give Malayans a taste of politics before forming the Federal Government. It was in these elections that Malaya witnessed political cooperation between race-based parties, cooperation that paved the way to independence.

As Umno president, Tunku, through Kuala Lumpur Umno and Selangor MCA, had formed a pact which proved to be a beneficial partnership.

Although Onn’s multi-ethnic IMP enjoyed the support of Malay aristocrats and non-Malay political leaders, the Umno-MCA pact had handsomely beaten IMP, who had teamed up with MIC, by nine seats to two in the 12-seat contest. This victory, along with other successful endeavours in other major towns, sealed the Umno-MCA pact.


Tunku Abdul Rahman addressing Umno Youth in 1958.
This partnership held a National Assembly on Aug 23, 1953, at the Selangor Miner’s Club, Kuala Lumpur, to discuss the road to independence with both agreeing to form the Alliance party, which MIC joined a year later.

It was in 1954 that Tunku began his campaign for Malaya’s independence, but his initial efforts proved futile.

The British administration was averse to the idea of granting independence for Malaya, worrying about racial harmony and economic self-sustainability.

Tunku’s persistence began to bear fruit when the British administration finally agreed for Malaya to hold its first general election to the Federal Legislative Council, to be held in 1955. It was announced that nomination day would be in June and that July 27 would be polling day.

Tunku travelled tirelessly, campaigning for the coalition, which later gained popularity among the people. In 1955, Umno, under the leadership of Tunku, braced for Malaya’s first general election, fielding 34 candidates.





The Alliance won the 1955 General Election with a landslide victory, winning 51 of the 52 total seats.

This was a resounding defeat for Party Negara, formed by Onn, who did not capture any seats from the 30 it had contested.

The sole opposition seat was secured by the Pan-Malayan Islamic Party.

The ruling Alliance party, now consisting of three political parties of Malaya’s three major races, played an important role in negotiating the transition to independence from British rule while facilitating the preparation of its constitution.

Now Malaya chief minister, Tunku continued his work to gain independence for Malaya.

Tunku held constitutional talks in London in January 1956 with the Secretary of States for the Colonies Alan Lennox-Boyd. On Feb 8, 1956, on Tunku’s 53rd birthday, he and Lennox-Boyd signed the Independence Agreement, which was scheduled for Aug 31, 1957.

Tunku announced the success of the Merdeka Mission in a public announcement at Padang Bandar Hilir, Malacca, on Feb 20, 1956.

His brief speech was muffled by the constant chorus of “Merdeka” being chanted, and it was celebrated with much jubilation.

After Malaya’s independence, Tunku, as its first prime minister, continued to dominate Malayan politics.

He led Umno to its second successful general election in 1959, where the Alliance won 74 seats out of the 104. Umno’s performance, however, showed a decrease.

Only 51 candidates won out of the 69 the party had fielded.

Tunku remained as prime minister, and proceeded to oversee the formation of Malaysia, which was described as one of his greatest achievements In 1961, Tunku spoke at the Foreign Correspondents Association of Southeast Asia in Singapore, where he proposed a federation of Malaya, Singapore, North Borneo (now Sabah), Sarawak and Brunei.

Two years later, on Sept 16, all of the states, except Brunei, formed Malaysia.

The country went into its 3rd General Election in 1964, and while the Alliance party emerged victorious once again, support for the Alliance party had severely deteriorated in the 1969 elections.

The opposition won 54 seats, causing the Alliance to lose its two-thirds majority. The Alliance lost its grip on Penang to political party infant Gerakan, Kelantan to Pas and lost its footing in Perak and Selangor.

The drastic change in the political landscape resulted in the racial riots in Kuala Lumpur on May 13, 1969, three days after polling day.

A state of national emergency was declared by the king, resulting in the suspension of Parliament. While coping with the May 13 racial riots as well as with losing a few local governments to opposition parties during elections, Umno was plagued by in-fighting, which later saw the young Dr Mahathir Mohamad (later Tun) requesting Tunku to resign.

Due to these crises, the government had announced emergency rule all over the Malay peninsula under the National Operations Council, helmed by the then deputy prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.

Tunku was forced to resign as prime minister in favour of Razak on Sept 22, 1970, and stepped down as Umno president in 1971. Umno Veteran Club secretary-general Datuk Mustapha Yaakub said Tunku’s biggest contribution to the country was that he brought about independence, with the help of Umno and its allies under the Alliance coalition.

The reason Dr Mahathir became critical of Tunku’s leadership, Mustapha said, was the fact that he was not entirely successful at fulfilling the Malays’ aspirations after gaining independence.

“Tunku was indeed the Father of Independence, but many Malays were against his premiership, as they believed his achievements did not go beyond securing independence for the country. “

Mahathir did not agree with the way Tunku managed the country at that time and this caused a rift.

Despite this tension, however, Umno remained strong at the highest levels, which made the leadership transition to Razak rather smooth,” he said.

Mustapha said Umno had been able to weather leadership issues as all leaders in branches and divisions believed that unity was important. “We would always fall back to our slogan ‘Bersatu. Bersedia. Berkhidmat’ (Unite, Be loyal and Serve).”


TOMORROW: Tun Abdul Razak Hussein’s leadership and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
See also : How it all started 69 years ago

Razak rebuilds nation, Dr M rises

AFTER the 1969 riots, Malaysia began its healing process under the steady hands of a capable leader. Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, succeeding Tunku Abdul Rahman as the second prime minister, had a huge responsibility to reunite and rebuild the faith of Malaysians who were deeply scarred by the May 13 racial riots.

After taking over from Tunku, Razak began asserting Umno’s leadership in the Alliance. He introduced the country’s most significant foundation in the social, political and economical aspects, which has made Malaysia what it is today. One of his earliest moves as prime minister saw the introduction of Rukun Negara.

The national philosophy declaration made on Aug 31, 1970, encouraged a shaken nation and its people on the path of unity. When Parliament reconvened in 1971, negotiations began with former opposition parties Gerakan and People’s Progressive Party.




A year later, both parties joined the Alliance, followed by Pas. This led to the birth of Barisan Nasional (BN) in 1974.

It also saw the inclusion of Sabah- and Sarawak-based political parties. It was done out of a dire need to revamp the Alliance following its electoral performance in 1969.

The “grand coalition” of 11 parties, under Razak’s stewardship, triumphed in the 1974 elections. BN won 135 seats out of the 154 it contested, gaining an overwhelming majority in Parliament. Umno won 62 seats.

Another pivotal move was Razak’s introduction of the New Economic Policy (NEP).

This was a social re-engineering and action programme formulated by the National Operation Council (NOC) that Razak headed. NOC ran the country when Parliament was suspended following the riots.

NEP was drawn up to eradicate poverty, subsequently eliminating identification of race by their economic function and geographical location.

NEP’s policy goals also led to redistribution of the economic pie. It saw economic progress being made and absolute poverty reduced by 1990.

NEP and the setting up of BN, saw not only Umno, but also the nation becoming stable during Razak’s administration.

It was under his leadership that the country became the world’s largest rubber producer.

It also saw Malaysia making forays into the electronics, as well as the oil and gas sectors.

These successes were attributed to Razak’s “Red Book” development policy, on which the nation’s foundation was built.

Sungai Petani Umno division permanent chairman Makbul Ilahi lauded Razak’s achievements as the then Umno president and prime minister, as he championed the rights of Malays, who were in need of much economic leverage to escape poverty.

“Not only did Razak succeed in maintaining unity in Umno, but he also fought hard to better the lives of Malays in rural areas.

“His hard work and legacy in defending marginalised Malay communities as Umno president continues till today, as we can see non-urban areas remaining as Umno stronghold,” he said.

He added that Malays were also able to progress due to Razak’s initiatives, such as Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) and Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra).

At the height of Razak’s administration, Makbul said, Umno became a venerable party and the backbone of BN. “Barisan Nasional was virtually rift-free and mutual respect was maintained between the parties, as Razak was known for his fair-mindedness and grassroots advocacy,” he added.

Six years after holding office, Razak succumbed to leukaemia and died in London on Jan 14, 1976.

Following his death, Tun Hussein Onn, the son of Umno founder Datuk Sir Onn Jaafar, became the third prime minister and subsequently Umno’s president.

Hussein, the sixth of Onn’s 12 children, was heavily involved in Malaya’s early political scene. He was known for his dexterity and rigour, especially in matters involving unity and economic balance between the races.

After the 1977 Kelantan Emergency, state elections were held and BN won the Pas stronghold state after its 19-year rule.

Hussein led Umno and BN to victory in the 5th General Election in 1978. It saw Umno winning 69 out of the 74 seats it contested.

As Razak’s successor, Hussein had a tough task in choosing between Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad (now Tun), Tun Muhammad Ghazali Shafie and former Malacca chief minister Tun Abdul Ghafar Baba as deputy prime minister.

It was not an easy decision for Hussein to make, but after six weeks, Dr Mahathir was appointed as his deputy. In early 1981, Hussein underwent a coronary bypass.

Due to health concerns, he retired from politics and relinquished his post on July 17 of the same year.

Dr Mahathir assumed the post of prime minister at the age of 55.

In his initial years as premier, Umno continued to prosper, with its candidates winning 70 out of the 75 seats contested in the 1982 General Election.

BN also won big, gaining 132 parliamentary seats out of the 154 it contested. In inheriting the NEP, Dr Mahathir also actively pursued the privatisation of government enterprises.

Under his leadership, the national carrier, utilities and telecommunication firms were privatised. He also oversaw the formation of Proton, which eventually became the largest car maker in Southeast Asia by the end of the 1980s.

Things, however, changed in the 1987 Umno elections. It saw the emergence of two camps — Team A and Team B — one belonging to Dr Mahathir and the other to Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (Ku Li) respectively.

The rivalry was a result of Ku Li challenging Dr Mahathir for the party leadership. With a slim 41-vote majority, Dr Mahathir won the party election and subsequently removed all Team B members from the cabinet.

This saw Team B leaders claiming that many party delegates were improperly elected, and they eventually filed a suit to revoke the outcome of the party polls.

This saw the party being declared illegal on technical grounds in 1988. Dr Mahathir immediately reconstituted Umno, with only Team A members as “Umno Baru”.

Makbul said Dr Mahathir’s guile and ferocity had helped him emerge from the wilderness during Tunku Abdul Rahman’s premiership to becoming the longest-serving prime minister.

However he also attributed much of the instability within Umno to Dr Mahathir’s pragmatic and ruthless ways.

“During his reign, Dr Mahathir’s ways had, more often than not, contradicted Malay mannerisms and values.

“This went against Hussein’s softer approach, which was a continuation of Razak’s legacy.”

Being an irrefutably intelligent leader and impressive orator, Makbul said Dr Mahathir managed to influence and gain trust from the majority of Umno leaders.

It was also undeniable, he added, that Dr Mahathir ruled with an iron fist and this caused a major friction within Umno. Makbul added that the infamous Team A and Team B debacle almost saw Dr Mahathir’s downfall but he was “saved” by Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s u-turn decision to back him a day before Umno held their polls to choose a new leader.


See also : Tunku's rise and fall