Tuesday, December 10, 2013

TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN, MALAYSIA’S FIRST PRIME MINISTER DIED ON 6 DECEMBER, 1990…NELSON MANDELA DIED ON THE SAME DAY, TWENTY-THREE YEARS LATER…

By Mansor Puteh



A funeral service for Nelson Mandela will be held in a stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa today.

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Tunku Abdul Rahman, 87, Dead; First Prime Minister of Malaysia
Published: December 07, 1990

Tunku Abdul Rahman, the gregarious noble who led in the founding of Malaysia and who was for 13 years its first Prime Minister after it became independent from Britain in 1957, died yesterday in General Hospital in Kuala Lumpur. He was 87 years old.

The Tunku, or prince in Malay, as he was called, had heart and kidney problems, the Government said. He went into a coma on Wednesday.

As he wished, the Tunku will be buried in accordance with Muslim rites at the Langgar Royal Mausoleum in his birthplace of Alor Star, a Malaysian state. The chief secretary to the Government, Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, said the Tunku would be given a full state funeral. A national holiday was declared yesterday.

The Tunku was the seventh son of Prince Abdul Rahman Ibni, a sultan who ruled for 61 years in Kedah, a northern principality. His mother was Makche Menjelara, who was half Burmese and half Siamese. She was a daughter of Luang Mira, a chieftan of the Siamese Shan states. Law Student in England

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Above are the first few paragraphs in the Obituary on Tunku Abdul Rahman, who was Malaysia’s first Prime Minister who died on 6 December, 1990 published in The New York Times (NYT) the next day, 7 December, 1990.

Unfortunately, what the NYT had failed to also mention in the report is how Tunku Abdul Rahman or Prince Abdul Rahman was the first leader in the British Commonwealth who called for the expulsion of South Africa in the Commonwealth’s Heads of Government Meeting that was held in Brisbane, Australia from 8 to 14 March, 1961.

And the motion was adopted by the Commonwealth which caused the apartheid state of South Africa to be outcast from the organization and much of the world.

But it still had to take a lot of effort by the international community to finally cause the apartheid government to relinquish power that finally allowed the Black South African freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela from being released from Robbins Prison where he had been incarcerated for twenty-seven years.

Unfortunately, Tunku or The Prince was never given the right recognition by the post-apartheid South African government. Mandela himself was not aware of what Tunku had done to help fight the apartheid regime, as he was in prison and was most probably not informed of the move by the Commonwealth.

Mandela made visits to some of the countries and met with the then leaders of those countries to give them a general acknowledgement, without ever mentioning Tunku’s name including to Malaysia in 1994 where he met the then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohammed.

Nelson Mandela or Madiba as he was affectionately called died on 6 December, and twenty-three years after the death of Tunku.

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Below is what is currently available in Wikepedia.:

The 1961 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference was the eleventh Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Nations. It was held in the United Kingdom in March 1961, and was hosted by that country's Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan.

While Commonwealth conferences were normally held biennially, this conference was held after an interval of only a year as the May 1960 conference due to disagreement over South Africa and whether the country should be removed from the commonwealth due to its policy of racial segregation with Malaya's prime minister demanding South Africa's expulsion.

The prime minister of the Union of South Africa, H.F. Verwoerd, attended the conference to give formal notice that his country was to become a republic in May 1961 after having approved the constitutional change in an October 1960 referendum.

South Africa's application was opposed by the leaders of African states under black majority rule, Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Malaya's Tunku Abdul Rahman, and the other non-white Commonwealth countries as well as Canadian prime minister John Diefenbaker due to South Africa's policy of apartheid. Canada was the only member of the old white Commonwealth to oppose South Africa's application.

The "Keep South Africa In" group included Britain's Harold Macmillan, Rhodesia and Nyasaland's Roy Welensky, Australia's Robert Menzies and Keith Holyoake of New Zealand.

Canadian prime minister John Diefenbaker proposed that South Africa only be re-admitted if it joined other states in condemning apartheid in principle.[2] Once it became clear that South Africa's membership would be rejected, Verwoerd withdrew his country's application and left the conference.

Concerns were also expressed about Britain's prospective membership in the Common Market and the possible impact on trade relations between the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth also expressed its support for worldwide disarmament "subject to effective inspection and control".

Cyprus' application to join the Commonwealth, following its independence the previous year, was approved over the opposition of the United Kingdom which objected as Cyprus had not applied for membership prior to independence as had been customary. Cyprus' president, Archbishop Makarios III, joined the conference once the decision on his country's membership was made. The membership application of Sierra Leone was also accepted and became effective upon its independence on 27 April.

This was the first Commonwealth conference in which one of the heads of government was a woman, Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike, who was also the first female prime minister in the world.

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I write this in order that this coincidence is also not missed by the admirers of Madiba and also of Tunku, the two men who had charted the course of their own country’s future, with Tunku, gaining Independence or ‘Merdeka – a word which was borrowed from the Dutch word for independence’ for the then Malaya from Britain.







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