Malaysia: The Making of a Nation

By Cheah Boon Kheng | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE

1957—70
“Pluralism” in Nation-Building
during the Tunku's Administration

He [the Tunku] had a simple philosophy: the role of the Malays was to control the machinery of the state, to give out licences and collect the revenue, and most important of all, to ensure that they were not displaced. Unlike the Chinese and Indians who had China and India to return to, they had nowhere else to go. In his soft-spoken, gracious way, he was absolutely open about his determination to maintain the ascendancy of the Malays and ensure that they and their sultans would remain the overlords of the country.

Lee Kuan Yew, The Singapore Story:
Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew,
p. 442

TUNKU ABDUL Rahman was not only Malaya's first Prime Minister, but also the leader who led the country to independence; hence, his title Bapa Kemerdekaan (Father of Independence). 1 He is also known as Bapa Malaysia (Father of Malaysia), or father of the nation, a title given for bringing about the present wider federation of Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah. These are major nation-building achievements. He was also independent Malaysia's first world statesman. He received numerous tributes and awards from foreign countries for his services towards international peace and co- operation. He was best known in the Commonwealth for his strong stand against apartheid, and for his pioneering role in the formation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). On retirement as

-75-

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