Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Kenangan Tunku

A portion of my last weekend was spent on Kenangan Tunku, by K. Das and Kua Kia Soong. It is a collection of interview transcripts between Almarhum Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra and the late K. Das, who was working on Tunku's only authorised biography. The biography was never finished because K. Das passed away in 1994. Kenangan Tunku is filled with candid recollection by our Bapa Kemerdekaan of his younger days, the Japanese rule, Merdeka, 13 May and UMNO. It was also my first real attempt at reading something from Malaysian history (aside from the stuff for Sejarah exams way back in school).

I realised a few things after reading this book:
  • Tunku was part royalty. This gave him the insight on the significance of the Malay Sultanate on the state and national governments and on the rakyat.

  • Tunku was a law graduate, as were the next two following PMs. It seems there are major differences between a leader how understand the philosophy behind law and its role in society and one who does not.

  • Prominent, younger politicians have tried to oust and silence Tunku for critising NEP (DEB) and other government policies.

  • Allahyarham Ghafar Baba was with UMNO since the beginning (and he was, IMHO, rather under appreciated).

  • A lot of things Tunku critised then still rings true today, despite the change of leadership.

Check it out if you have the opportunity. It's an interesting personal look how at the struggles made to bring this country into existence.

On a related note, another of Tunku's close associates, Allahyarham Khir Johari, passed away on the day I was reading this book. Al-Fatihah.

I'll admit that I know very little about our country's forefathers, but my fondest memory of them is from a sketch by Dato' Lat. I can't remember what it was about, but I remember a caricature of Tunku looking very cheerful and calling Khir Johari over the telephone. Khir was at home, in his sarung (!), responding nervously to whatever that Tunku said. It still brings me to smiles every time I think about it.


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