Friday, February 10, 2017
Penang declares Feb 8 Unity Day in conjunction with the birthday of the nation's first prime minister, also known as 'Bapa Kemerdekaan'.
KUALA LUMPUR: Several well-known veteran figures recalled nostalgic moments with the country’s “Bapa Kemerdekaan” (Father of Independence) and first prime minister, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, and his endearing traits in conjunction with Tunku’s 114th birthday yesterday.
Penang Malay Association (Pemenang) president, Yussof Latiff, who knew Tunku since he took over the Umno leadership from Onn Jaafar in 1951, said Tunku’s integrity was his most distinct personal trait.
“When it came to Tunku’s integrity, there was no compromise, it could not be doubted or questioned. Tunku was honest and sincere. When he took over the Umno leadership, the party had no money, so Tunku sold his house in Penang to fund the running of Umno,” he told Bernama.
Yussof, who is now 86, also said Tunku was like a father who people, whether Malays or non-Malays, sought for “shelter” when he was a leader.
He said Tunku’s family and the staff at his residence were multiracial and multi religious.
“That was typically Tunku. His cook was a Malay, his driver an Indian and his domestic helper who washed the clothes and dishes was a Chinese.
“Tunku also adopted children, especially of Chinese descent, into the family. He raised five of them from small until they became adults and got married,” Yussof said.
He also regarded Tunku, who died in 1990 at age 87, as a gift from God to lead the Malays and Umno, and then obtain independence for the country and become a leader for all races.
Yussof said that since 2003, a gathering of the Penang state muhibbah consultative council comprising 16 ethnic bodies was held in remembrance of Tunku’s birthday. Feb 8 meanwhile, was declared Unity Day for Penang.
“In discussions, Tunku was very open and could accept everything that was voiced out. Tunku Abdul Rahman was irreplaceable,” he said.
Extremely simple, kind and warm
Former inspector-general of police, Hanif Omar said he first got close to Tunku when he was a member of Tunku’s security detail for the protracted Maphilindo (Malaysia/Philippines/Indonesia) talks in Manila in June 1963.
“He was extremely simple, kind and warm and remained so throughout his life which was guided every day by the Quranic verses that he opened at random every morning after subuh prayers,” he said.
Hanif said Tunku used to allow him the use of his beachfront home in Penang.
“May Allah abundantly bless his soul and that of his late wife Tun Sharifah Rodziah,” he said.
Former Bukit Aman director of internal security and public order, Zaman Khan said he too had fond memories of Tunku when he was the OCPD of Butterworth before the 1969 general election.
The former prime minister would come to Butterworth and stay at his small wooden bungalow at Telok Ayer Tawar where he used to hold meetings with Umno and the then Alliance.
Zaman Khan said when he was Penang chief police officer, his quarters was just a house away from Tunku’s.
He said he was advised by Tun Abdul Razak, who succeeded Tunku as prime minister, to keep Tunku company which he did usually after Isyak prayers. And almost every Thursday, Tunku would host local Umno heads for “chit chat sessions with lots of old stories”.
Former banker Rais Saniman said he had the honour of serving Tunku in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, when Tunku was secretary-general of the then Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) soon after he stepped down as prime minister in 1970.
“Tunku had an idea with King Faisal to set up the Islamic Development Bank and I was directed by Tun Razak to go and join the international team of experts to set up and get the bank going,” he said.
Rais said: “I started with unease with Tunku but I ended up kissing his feet. He was warm and kind.
“Open the first page of the Encyclopaedia of Democracy. He is on the first page. The greatest Malaysian.”
(All video from Youtube)