YTM TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN PUTRA AL-HAJ (1903 – 1990)
YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj was born on 8 February 1903 at Istana Tiga Tingkat, Alor Setar Kedah. He was the 20th son of Sultan Abdul Hamid Halimshah, the 24th Sultan of Kedah. His mother was Che’ Menjalara; the daughter of Luang Nara Borirak, the Chief of Mataban in Thailand.
YTM Tunku began his official schooling at the age of six, enrolled at Alor Setar Malay School, then to Government English School. When he was ten years old, YTM Tunku was sent to Bangkok to live with his eldest brother, YTM Tunku Yusuf and together, they attended Debsurin School. Upon the passing of YTM Tunku Yusuf in 1915, YTM Tunku returned to Kedah and continued his schooling at Penang Free School.
Tunku Abdul Rahman pursued his studies at St. Catherine’s College, Universiti of Cambridge in 1920 with a scholarship from the Kedah State. There, Tunku experienced racial discrimination for the first time. His application to stay in college was rejected due to his color. Only after they realized that he was a prince, he was offered a place to stay in college, but based on his principle; he declined the offer and stayed in a rented room throughout the course.
He attained Bachelor of Law and History from University of Cambridge in 1925. In 1926, with his leadership attribute and burning nationalistic spirit, Tunku began working on the establishment of Malay Association of Great Britain and he became its first secretary.
In 1947, driven by strong determination YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman went to England to finish his education at the Inns of Court. He managed to get his legal qualification and returned to Kedah. In 1949, Tunku was appointed as chairman of the Kedah branch of United Malay Organization (UMNO) and on 26 August 1951 he replaced Tunku Dato ‘Onn Jaafar to become the Yang di Pertua UMNO.
During his tenure as the UMNO President, Tunku worked hard to resolve the political problems in Malaya by seeking the cooperation of all races, leading to the formation of the Alliance consisting of UMNO, MCA and MIC.
Following the first general election held in the country, where the Alliance won 51 of the 52 seats contested, YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman was appointed as Chief Minister and Minister of Home Affair.
In 1956, YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman led a delegation to London to discuss with the British government to seek independence for Malaya. The negotiation was a success and British had agreed to give Malaya its independence. The date of 31 August 1957 had been set as the date for independence.
In 1961, during a luncheon with foreign correspondents in Singapore, YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman announced that Malaya would enter an agreement with Britain, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia. The formation of Malaysia, comprising the Federation of Malay Peninsula, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak, was declared on 16 September 1963. However, Singapore left Malaysia on 9 August 1965.
On 22 September 1970, Tunku Abdul Rahman, who was very sad about the tragedy of 13 May 1969, resigned and Tun Abdul Razak became the second Prime Minister of Malaysia.