14 March 1999

There are few reminders of him. I am disappointed and accept that even several members of his family rarely talk about him now. Everyone is obsessed with his or her family and the future, that is where everyone's heart and mind are.

On March 11, Tun Abdul Razak would have been 77 years old. He died on Jan 14, 1976, and we buried him two days after that 12 days before what would have been the most dramatic cabinet reshuffle in our history

After only two decades and three years, Razak has become part of the past - sunk into history and hardly written about.

The American people preserved George Washington's cherished home in Mount Vernon, Virginia, which the American founding father loved better than any other on earth, whilst the British turned Winston Churchill's beloved homestead, Chartwell in Kent, into a national landmark and a heritage.

In Mount Vernon, which I had visited, you could feel Washington's presence. I am planning to visit Chartwell the next time I am in England.

Hundreds of books have been written about both Washington and Churchill, and a dozen feature films have been made to popularise and perpetuate the memory of them. How many books have been written or films made about Tunku Abdul Rahman and Razak?

And what about their homes - Tunku's homes in Alor Star, Penang and Kuala Lumpur and Razak's homestead in Pekan?

Razak, for the benefit of young readers was a kampung boy though his father was a District Officer and a major territorial chief of Pahang. He was raised by his paternal grandfather, Mohamad Taib, in kampung Jambu Langgar in Pekan.

Razak's father, Datuk Hussein, was the District Officer of Bentong before, during and after the Japanese occupation of Malaya. He took another wife. Razak's mother, Fatimah, stayed in Pekan.

During the Japanese occupation, Razak decided to follow his grand uncle, Mahmud bin Mat (later Datuk Sir Mahmud), then District Officer of Tapah, to return to his hometown of Pekan to live with his mother and grandparents (Before that, he was living with his father in Bentong).

Razak never forgot his roots. In times of adversity, he felt secure in his kampung.

After Malay school, he was sent to Malay College Kuala Kangsar where he was headboy in 1939. He was only 17 years old, and an all rounder sportsman. His deputy who succeeded him was the present Yang di-Pertuan Agong who was also an excellent all-rounder sportsman.

He was an arts student at Raffles College in Singapore when World War II interrupted his studies.

In 1947, he went to study law on a Malayan Union scholarship, and when he returned in 1950, went straight into politics and became deputy president of Umno at age 29, Deputy Prime Minister at 35, and Prime Minister 13 years later, the youngest man ever to hold the office in Malaysia.

He died at a relatively young age of 53, at the most important time of his premiership. He was to announce a major cabinet reshuffle on Jan 26, 1976 in Langkawi, but before he could do so, he passed away. It is a matter I shall write about in due course.

Razak's sudden demise changed the course of our history. Things began to change fast after his death

Back/Next