About Tunku Abdul Rahman

All life is experience, and everyone makes mistakes... Talking for myself, I made more mistakes as a youth than most men my age, but today they have proved to be of inestimable value to my career as the leader of my nation.

YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman, in the Malayan Youth Council, 1960


YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj

When Malaysians are asked, “Who is Tunku Abdul Rahman?”, the answers are clear: “Bapa Kemerdekaan”, “The first prime minister of Malaysia”, “The figure that united the people in Malaysia” and so on.

What many do not know is that Tunku initially struggled academically. He was notorious for mischief and was not a high performing student, driving concern among his family members until his eldest brother decided to take him to Bangkok, Thailand, to study. When Tunku pursued his studies at St. Catherine College in University of Cambridge, his application to stay at the college residence was initially rejected due to discrimination of skin colour. The application was later accepted upon the discovery that he was a prince, but with dignity, Tunku refused the offer and rented a room throughout his studies.

Almarhum Tan Sri Khir Johari, who was appointed as the first chairman of the YTAR board of trustees and who knew Tunku for 48 years, described him as follows: “…[having] high sense of patriotism, as well as loyalty, and kindness to his friends and fellow human beings… without any regard to the colours of their skin, to their religious background and status in society.”

What Tunku received as a child was someone who believed in him enough to support him academically, ultimately becoming the stepping stone to the person he became for Malaysia. Yayasan Tunku Abdul Rahman was established to embody this: to help Malaysians from a variety of backgrounds achieve the greatest heights possible.


In the spirit of Tunku, we focus on honing the potential of the future leaders of Malaysia, regardless of colour or creed.