A Dictionary of Political Biography

By Dennis Kavanagh | Go to book overview

A

Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj,Tunku (b. Alor Setar, 8 Feb. 1903; d. Kuala Lumpur, 6 Dec. 1990)

Malaysian; Prime Minister of Malaya 1957-63 and of Malaysia 1963-70

A son of the Sultan of Kedah, the Tunku was educated at schools in Bangkok, Alor Setar, at the Penang Free School and St Catharine's College, Cambridge. He entered Kedah government service in 1931 and in December 1941 prevented the British from taking his father out of the state as they retreated before the Japanese. After the Japanese occupation ( 1941-5), during which he continued in administration, he resumed legal studies at the Inner Temple. Having been called to the bar, in 1949 he joined the Kedah Legal Department and then the Federal Legal Department, but in August 1951 he resigned to succeed Dato Onn bin Jaafar as leader of the United Malays National Organization.

Lacking flamboyance, abrasiveness, and bureaucratic skill, the Tunku flourished as a consensus politician. From 1952 he deftly guided UMNO in an Alliance (with the Malayan Chinese Association and, later, the Malayan Indian Congress) which became heir apparent to the British colonial regime. Counter-insurgency successes against Communist guerrillas from 1953 encouraged the Alliance to demand, and the British to grant, constitutional concessions. In July 1955 the Alliance won 51 of the 52 electable seats in the Federal Council and the Tunku became Chief Minister of a virtually self-governing Malaya. In December he met, but refused to compromise with, * Chin Peng (leader of the outlawed Malayan Communist Party). He was now in a position successfully to demand independence by 31 August 1957.

Under the Tunku, independent Malaya remained close to Britain. In 1963 Malaya became Malaysia through incorporation with the former British colonies of Singapore, Sarawak, and North Borneo ( Sabah). While prospering economically, however, Malaysia was challenged by Indonesian 'Confrontation' ( 1963-6), the secession of Singapore ( 1965), and communal riots in May 1969 which left hundreds dead in Kuala Lumpur. The 1969 crisis effectively ended his political career. Having presented himself as the father of a multiracial nation, the Tunku resigned as Prime Minister and leader of UMNO in September 1970.

From 1970 to 1973 the Tunku served as secretary-general of the Islamic Secretariat in Jeddah. In retirement in Penang he contributed to public debate through the Star newspaper and became an outspoken critic of Dr * Mahathir. His reminiscences were published in a series of collections starting with Looking Back ( 1977).

Acheson, Dean Gooderham (b. Middleton, Connecticut, 11 Apr. 1893; d. 12 Oct. 1971) US; Secretary of State 1949-53

Acheson received a privileged education at Groton and Yale and, in 1918, graduated LLB from Harvard Law School. At this time it was customary for distinguished Supreme Court judges to pick the two most gifted men in the graduating Harvard law class to assist them. Acheson was chosen by Justice Brandeis. During the First World War Acheson served for a time in the Navy. On returning to civilian life he became a practising lawyer.

In 1933 he gained his first experience of public office when F. D. *Roosevelt appointed him Under-Secretary of the Treasury. An inability to justify Roosevelt's fiscal unorthodoxy prompted Acheson's early departure from office.

In 1939, when Europe once again became embroiled in war, Acheson, an

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A Dictionary of Political Biography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vi
  • Preface vii
  • List of Contributors viii
  • Contributors and Countries xi
  • Abbreviations xii
  • A 1
  • B 27
  • C 79
  • D 129
  • E 157
  • F 164
  • G 177
  • H 201
  • I 237
  • J 238
  • K 252
  • L 278
  • M 304
  • N 356
  • O 369
  • P 373
  • Q 400
  • R 402
  • S 426
  • T 464
  • U 483
  • V 485
  • W 494
  • X 512
  • Y 513
  • Z 518
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