Photo credit (above): Hellmy | Flickr
A peek into Tunku’s background
Born in Alor Setar, Kedah on Feb 8, 1903, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj was the seventh son of the Ruler of Kedah, Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah. His mother was Che Manjalara.
Tunku received his early education in a Malay and English school in Alor Setar, followed by the Penang Free School and a Siamese school in Bangkok.
In 1920, a state scholarship took him to England for his tertiary education. He entered St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge, and studied history and law. He graduated in 1925 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He then joined the Inner Temple, in London.
In 1931, he returned to Kedah and joined the Kedah state civil service. He served as district officer in Kuala Nerang, Langkawi, Sungai Patani and finally in Kulim.
In 1948, Tunku became chairman of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) Kedah. He returned to the Inner Temple, London to complete his law studies and was called to the English Bar.
Upon his return to Malaya in 1949, he was appointed deputy public prosecutor, and in 1951, succeeded Datuk Seri Onn bin Ja’afar as president of UMNO.
On Jul 27, 1955, the Federation’s first elections to the Federal Legislative Council was held. In the new Government, Tunku became Chief Minister.
Dec 31, 1955 saw Tunku heading a delegation from the Alliance Party to London for talks with the British government on the future constitution of the Federation. This led to Malaya’s declaration of independence that took place on Aug 31, 1957 and Tunku became the first Prime Minister.
It was during his administration that the Bangkok Declaration was signed to form the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
A keen sportsman, Tunku had been a football fan all his life. He was president of the Football Association of Malaya, president of the Asian Football Confederation, and president of the Asian Badminton Confederation.
His other personal interests include golf, sailing and photography. In addition, he was the owner of a remarkable collection of Malay weapons, especially the keris.
Datuk Din Merican is a blogger. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.