The Tunku Tapes: Post-Merdeka blues - Part 1Last modified:Wednesday December 26, 4:52 pm10:41am, Wed: specialThe negotiations for Independence (Merdeka) started in 1955 and Malayabecame an independent country on Aug 31, 1957 with Tunku Abdul Rahman asprime minister. Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah joined the Malaysian merger in1963. However, Singapore left the federation two years later.Meanwhile, within the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA), there was factionalstrife. A faction emerged in 1957 around Dr Lim Chong Eu. In 1958, Lim wasvoted MCA president over Tan Cheng Lock. As the 1959 federal elections drewclose, Lim pressed for more seats against the 29 allocated by the AllianceNational Council. The Tunku replied by announcing that Umno would contestthe election without MCA. In the process, Lim resigned as MCA leader andonly MCA members acceptable to the Tunku appeared on the Alliance ticket forthe 1959 elections.K Das: As Merdeka got closer and closer, how did Singapore slip out of thisarrangement?Tunku: We got to work very closely with Singapore when we were formingMalaysia. After my press statement, Singapore requested to join us too. So(Lee) Kuan Yew represented Singapore, Halim Fuad, Tuan Stephens, and TunMustapha - they all came to work for Malaysia. They were holding meetingsand later on it was obvious that Malaysia had to be formed. The Britishterms were that Singapore could not be on its own but was free to joinMalaysia. So Kuan Yew accepted all the terms and it was only after he joinedMalaysia that he started to interfere.K Das: I was going back a bit earlier to 1955/1956 when Malaya was achievingMerdeka. At what point did they become separate, because before the war, wewere all under the British and Malaya included Singapore? How was it done -how did Singapore separate? At what year would that be? When the Merdekatalks began, why was Singapore not included?Tunku: Before Kuan Yew, there was no approach for independence. They werevery keen to join but I did not see that in David Marshall and Lim Yew Hock,they had a powerful enough leader to control Singapore.K Das: There were approaches? Wasnt the PAP (Peoples Action Party) itselfcontrolled by the communists for a while?Tunku: That is why the British were not keen to give them independence ontheir own. So they had to join us or carry on being a colony of Britain.That is why Kuan Yew decided to join us. After that he did everythingpossible to break away. That is where he has remained today, he is not a man
to be trusted.K Das: But T H Tan was always very suspicious?Tunku: .and (Tan) Siew Sin.K Das: How about (Tan) Cheng Lock?Tunku: He was an old man.K Das: How did he feel about Singapore?Tunku: He did not express his feelings very well. He was too old then -suffering from senility.K Das: Leong Yew Koh was also getting old?Tunku: He was pure Kuomintang so he actually wanted to join us. He was veryanti-communist.K Das: Why did H S Lee leave the Alliance? He left with (Lim) Chong Eu?Tunku: He left with Chong Eu, so I kicked them all out.K Das: In your book you mentioned that Chong Eu wanted to leave - he askedfor 40 seats. Is that correct?Tunku: Not 40, it was 32.K Das: 32?Tunku: We gave him 29.K Das: He asked for 32 ... there is a bit of argument over this. Some say heasked for 40.Tunku: There were only 104 seats. If I had given him anymore, I would havegot into trouble.K Das: They were all Malay seats?Tunku: So when he decided to break away, I said good luck, get out.K Das: But later on he came back and said he had made a mistake - what wasthe trouble? Was he having trouble with his young supporters?Tunku: He was not having trouble. He wanted to have a strong say in thegovernment. I said, "No, you can only have that number of seats, no more."He should have been satisfied with all that. I said, "We can work together
for the good of Malaya so long as we can get the country running well." Thatwas all that mattered to us. I was running it very well.Tunku as PMK Das: In those days, how did you have the time for films, sport..Tunku: I used to go and train the footballers myself, I rode and dideverything. I could never be quiet you know, I didnt know how to do that.Whatever time I had, I rode. You see, with my colleagues, we were workingtogether - I never interfered in their work, they did their own work andthen we would discuss all this during every Wednesday cabinet meeting. Afterthat, we would adjourn to lunch. There were some ministers like Aziz Ishakwho were out of control. He was minister of agriculture but what he did henever told us, he did on his own.K Das: What did he do?Tunku: He was minister of agriculture.K Das: And what were the things he did?Tunku: Everything! He was also head of the Co-operative Society. He woulduse Co-operative money to buy land when the co-operative society was toosmall and couldnt pay. For instance, the piece of land he bought from BrownEstate for more than a million dollars - in those days it was a lot ofmoney. But he did not get the money to pay and so I had to take it over,paid for it and made a Malay settlement there. That area is called BayanBaru.We had to pay for it and so I sold half the land to the Penang stategovernment. Chong Eu bought that and built all those housing estates for hisdevelopment plan. I had to sell half and then pay the other half. Thegovernment of Malaysia paid and settled all these people in Bayan Baru. Thatis the sort of things he did. Then he went and built a urea plant when hehad no money to pay for it and we had to take it over - he startedeverything well but he never followed up on them.K Das: Can you recall the circumstances under which Col (H S) Lee left thecabinet?Tunku: Yes I can recall it very well. The MCA had by that time come underthe leadership of Dr Lim Chong Eu and there were all the young Chinese bloodwho had taken over from Tun Tan Cheng Loke. It was then that H S Lee joinedthat gang. So these people, the young Chinese, all ambitious, power-mad,power-crazy posed a certain threat to the well-being of the Alliance.They came after I had taken the decision to give them 29 seats but they said
they wanted 32. So I told them I have given you more than enough - 29 seatsand half that number is from the Malay constituencies. I cannot do any morethan that. The Malays have been very patient with you people but now you arestill making demands. You get out. It was during this time that H S Lee gotinvolved with that gang. I do not know what they promised him. So I rang himup and told him to get out.K Das: So he joined Chong Eus party?Tunku: He was not in the MCA.K Das: So he joined the other side?Tunku: There was no other side. There was only one MCA. Therefore he was inthat.K Das: So he joined the young faction?Tunku: They took over the MCA.K Das: At this time Col H S Lee was the finance minister?Tunku: He was a senator. Yes, he was minister of finance.K Das: Then he left?Tunku: He left. I kicked him out.K Das: And you appointed Siew Sin (Tan Siew Sin)?Tunku: That is right. When I kicked him out, this new lot also got out. Ithen gave up my job and appointed Razak as PM and I went around the countrycampaigning. In the meantime MCA had a meeting at the Chinese Assembly Halland appointed their new officers with Siew Sin as its head.Happiest PM in 1959K Das: When you went on the campaign in 59?Tunku: You know I went completely - I retired. I did not go on leave. Iresigned. I did not get any pay and I did not have any money. That is why Iwas selling some of my houses again. When the new MCA was formed, I cameback to take over as PM again. Then the election followed - MCA lost theirseats. Only Chong Eu won his seat in Penang. All the others lost.K Das: In your campaign for Umno, what was your main campaign line?Tunku: To support Umno, take action against MCA. Only if the MCA found newleaders would we support them.
K Das: And before you resigned, you also had some problems with the Malayschoolteachers?Tunku: Oh, yes!K Das: What was that about?Tunku: They wanted better pay, they wanted to be treated on the same scaleas the English teachers.K Das: The same as the graduates?Tunku: Yes. I said, "You cant, because you are not qualified like theEnglish teachers...Your schooling is only up to a certain point in Malayvernacular schools. If you had gone on to higher levels like SeniorCambridge or what not, I can give you the same pay. But we have alreadyincreased your pay from what it was under the British."So they decided to boycott Umno, they left en masse.K Das: Was that one of the reasons why you went to campaign?Tunku: No.K Das: The main reason was the MCA?Tunku: Only the MCA. I did not worry about them. They said, "If youcampaign, we will also campaign against you people."So I said, "Carry on, do what you want. It is for the people to decide."I mean, the country was well served at the time. The economy was good,everything was good, so what was there to be afraid of? The people could notsay that business had gone down, that our money had shrunk.The people couldnot say that because we were having a very good time. So I was not afraid ofanybody. If the people were not happy and they wanted to support thoseparties, those who had shown no particular talent in politics except to talkup to you, let them.K Das: If I remember correctly, 1959 was the year in which you said you werethe happiest PM. Can you recall why you were so happy that particular year?Tunku: In fact I was saying so even before that. You see, we were doing sowell.K Das: Because that happened to be the year you resigned. It was also whenyou said you were the happiest PM.
Tunku: That was the time we broke away from the MCA and so on. I dont know,things were going so well, so many things happened that year.K Das: But that was a very good year for elections. You won 74 out of 104seats.
The Tunku Tapes: Why Brunei backed out - Part 2Last modified: Wednesday December 26, 4:52 pm10:13am, Thu: After the 1959 general elections, Tunku Abdul Rahman visitedAustralia where he spoke out strongly against apartheid.In 1961, Tunku announced the idea of a Malaysian merger which would includeMalaya, Singapore, North Borneo, Brunei and Sarawak. The Sultan of Bruneibacked out of the Malaysian Federation in the end because of disenchantmentwith certain financial and constitutional aspects of the Malaysian proposal.K Das: Tunku, I met you in 1959 after the elections. You went to Australiaand I was there. I was a student, you gave a small dinner party to thestudents in Melbourne and that was the first time we had satay in Melbourne.Tunku: Was that over here in 1959?K Das: No, it was in Melbourne and you were passing through from Adelaide.You stopped in Melbourne for a few days. What I want to know is what was theoccasion in 1959, after the trouble with the MCA, after the trouble withUmno schoolteachers, elections came and then you were in Australia. It wasquite a long visit. Do you remember?Tunku: That was nothing special. The Australians were very friendly.K Das: Was that an official trip or was it a holiday?Tunku: I think it was more of a holiday. Menzies was very friendly, he gaveme full support. The only trouble I had with him was...K Das: Apartheid.Tunku: Oh! You realise that, he was a very strong supporter. After the firstor second year, we expelled South Africa. Then he groaned, "My God, my God."K Das: He did?Tunku: Yes.K Das: At the conference?Tunku: Yes.K Das: But actually that man is very strange you know. As a prime ministerhe was very powerful.Tunku: Very English.
K Das: .but not very popular. His power was through the party and he wasvery clever at manipulating the party. But he was a very good PM in manyways.Tunku: One thing, he was very friendly to us.K Das: He was good at economics but he was not very popular. They admiredhim though.Tunku: The Australians are not classy people although he was very classy. Hewas certainly one of those who closely supported me - Nehru, Ayub Khan, theyall supported me very strongly.K Das: On what issues?Tunku: On everything. When I went to negotiate independence with theBritish, I used to stop sometimes in India, other times in Ceylon ... theywere all very friendly. But I was very surprised that when the massacre tookplace in Sharpeville they did not bring it up. Only I brought it up and Imade it known to the British government before I left. I said I had to takeit up but they tried to advise me not to.K Das: Before you went to London you told them already?Tunku: They were right about that. As soon as Sharpeville took place, I saidwed got to do something about this.K Das: And you spoke about it in Parliament?Tunku: Yes, in our Parliament after my return.K Das: I think you did it before. Because you told me at the conference youcame to the direct mandate...Tunku: When we met again, Verwood, the PM came. He did not say very much.Normally at the Conference of Commonwealth countries, as PM, you are invitedto Chequers, but I did not go and the PM was very disappointed because I goton very well with him.K Das: Who was it then? MacMillan or Wilson?Tunku: I think it was MacMillan. Then Verwood, the PM of South Africa, cameto see me in my hotel. He came to try to explain about what they had donefor the blacks and what not. Then he invited me to go to South Africa. Isaid, "What you have done to the people because of their colour is somethingthat worries me, that you could shoot more than 70 of them down in coldblood."Later on, they kicked him out.
Sultan of Brunei opts outK Das: Who was the British official at the time?Tunku: The foreign minister himself, Duncan Sands.K Das: What did he say?Tunku: He said, "You take over."K Das: Regardless?Tunku: Regardless. Transferred power over to me. They trusted me to lookafter the place. He told me there was no use in negotiating with the Sultanof Brunei, that he was so stupid. I said, "Every little thing has life. Idont want to interfere. I dont want to take them over against theirwishes."In fact, at first they were very keen to join Malaysia. I think he must havebeen influenced by the Shell people so they met and they used theirinfluence on him. That is why I could not prove why he changed suddenly fromwanting to join Malaysia and then deciding against joining Malaysia simplybecause of the need to contribute revenue towards defence.K Das: Tunku, in your negotiation, after you spoke to Duncan Sands, did youspeak to the Sultan afterwards?Tunku: I did not see him afterwards, he was at his house when we had thismeeting. I remember there was (Tan) Siew Sin and I, and then there was hislawyer Lawson.K Das: Where did the conversation take place?Tunku: At the Brunei Palace, Istana Brunei. We decided then that there wouldbe a parting of ways. They had also suggested they should be the first Agongbut we had agreed to appoint the Agong through the order of succession.K Das: What was his reason for saying he must be the first Agong?Tunku: He did not give any reason. That is why I said he couldnt, we had tofollow the rules set up according to the order of succession. If the Sultanof Brunei had joined us he would have had to ascend the throne only afterthe Sultan of Peraks turn.What were his objections? To paying for defence . but it was the same forSingapore who had to pay so much for defence and so much for other revenue.Where else could we get this revenue?
K Das: This is one of my problems. I want to travel to London and Brunei andother places because other people still have records and documents...Tunku: Weve got records here but they wont give us.K Das: They dont give it here. Also, I want to personally see the peopleinvolved at the time to talk to them and see...Tunku: Well there is nobody else. Siew Sin has died and then there was LordCobbold but at the meeting with the Sultan of Brunei, he was not there. Icannot remember which British officials were there now.K Das: It was the time of Duncan Sands?Tunku: But he was not there at the last meeting. That is why when I saw himin London, he said, "Take it."K Das: Were there any officials from Siew Sins office?Tunku: Siew Sin himself was not there. I was alone. There were no officials.It was not one big meeting but it should have been a big meeting to decide.He was playing an evasive game at that time. He wanted to join . he didntwant to join... That is why I felt the Shell people were influencing him.
The Tunku Tapes: Jailing Harun - Part 3Last modified: Friday December 28, 4:33 pm11:00am, Fri: specialAfter the ethnic violence following the worst defeat for the Alliance at the1969 general elections, Tunku Abdul Rahman retired from office and the primeministership passed to Tun Abdul Razak in 1970.It was the passing of an era which saw the control of the ruling party Umnoshift from the old-style English-educated Malay aristocracy to the emergentand ambitious new Malay capitalist class.Razak is credited with initiating much of the racial restructuring of theMalaysian economy under the New Economic Policy. He died in 1976 and hissuccessor was Hussein Onn, son of Umnos founder Onn Jaafar. The new primeministers first test was to confront Harun Idris, the powerful chiefminister of Selangor, who represented an increasingly militant communal wingin Umno.Haruns activities became so blatant that in 1975, the prime ministerdecided to press charges of corruption against him. He was sentenced to sixyears imprisonment on charges of corruption and forgery in 1978 but stillmanaged to win a seat in the Umno supreme council that same year. He wasreleased from prison in 1981.Tunku: Yes, 1959 was good, 1964 was also good but 1969 was the worst yearbecause the communists started trouble and my own people, like (Abdul)Razak, started trouble - trouble started by Harun, Mahathir (Mohamad),Ghazali (Shafie). They wanted to take over power. Things were going so well,they kept on calling me forgetful and what not. So I said, "All right, go onand take over. As for myself, I work for the country and for the people. Ifyou can do better, take it." So that is why I left ...I was then appointed secretary general of the Organisation of IslamicCountries. The headquarters were at my office in Kuala Lumpur. So I just hadto carry on with my new job. I was not feeling upset, I did not feel bad. Itold them, "If you want to do the job, do so by all means." The King ofSaudi picked me to organise the OIC, so I did. I always feel happy when Ihave to organise something, so I was happy to go and organise the OIC.K Das: Tunku, since the terrible May 69 days, this country has progressedrapidly economically and more and more Malays have gone into business andare doing very well, but there are people who say that perhaps they aregoing too fast. How do you feel about this?Tunku: I think they might be right in the sense that it is going a bit toofast for people who have had no previous experience in business and
economics and as a result, there is a certain section, and a very smallsection at that, who can take advantage of all these projects that are aimedat benefitting the Malays. The rest are still behind and cannot takeadvantage of it. In a sense, we can say that it is all going too fast.Whatever happens, I feel that in the whole economic progress, youve got totake the whole country with you, youve got to pay more attention to thosewho have less and those who are a little inexperienced in this type of work.You have got to try and help them along. But you cannot, so to speak,benefit one section of the people at the expense of another. That is thething we must not do.I think on the whole, the Chinese and others are quite happy to help theMalays along and so we must not hurt their feelings or show discriminationin any sense in this matter, but try and bring them all along together andget them to try and help Malaysia. It is difficult I know, but that is thesort of policy I tried to carry out in those years of my term as primeminister.K Das: You have always expressed nothing but your admiration and feeling offriendship toward Tun Razak. I think that this feeling is general in thiscountry but there is also a feeling that perhaps Tun Razak was very much incommand but his policies are not being implemented as he would have likedthem. Would you like to talk about this subject?Tunku: I can try to say my bit on this matter because I dont think he wasquite as lucky as I was. When I had him as my No 2, he was a veryconscientious worker and I had all my colleagues in the cabinet whom I hadentrusted to do the job. To the best of my knowledge, they did their jobvery well. They were, you might call pioneers and they were devoted anddedicated to their jobs.Tun Razak might not have been as lucky as I was because he did not haveanother Tun Razak to help him in the way that I had. All these ministers arenew except for one or two who were with him in the early days but on thewhole, they are new. And then perhaps Tun Razaks way of doing things wasdifferent from mine because he was, as you said, a very hard worker - hewanted to do everything himself. In this way, he might have discouraged hiscolleagues who might have felt, "Well, if he wants to do it, let him do it,why should we bother?"That is different from my way of doing things which is, "If you dont do itproperly, then I will come after you." I never interfere in any of mycolleagues work. In fact some of the things I tried to do for my personalfriends, my colleagues turned them down but I didnt say anything, I justaccepted their decision as final. After all, it is their work. I could notinterfere. That is how I feel about it.Going after Harun
Tunku: It is clear that Harun Idris was corrupt. He was charged you know.Before that, they were trying to settle the matter.K Das: How were they trying to settle the matter? How did Razak propose tosettle the matter?Tunku: You know Harun (photo, right) was one of those - Harun, Mahathir(photo, left), Ghazali Shafie - who were all working with Razak to oust me,to take over my place. So these are his gang but actually he wanted to helphim by sending him out of this country and be our diplomat outside. ButHarun didnt want to go...K Das: How did Salleh get into...Tunku: He was the solicitor general...K Das: At that time, solicitor general?Tunku: Not solicitor, but attorney-general. I was in the AGs Chambers inthe early days, as DPP.K Das: At that time when Salleh Abas was solicitor general?Tunku: Oh, who was the AG then?K Das: Salleh Yusuf.Tunku: Oh, yes! He was a member of the cabinet. As solicitor general, he hadto deal with the matter.K Das: And he refused to compromise?Tunku: The man had committed a crime. Whoever he was, what did I care? Whena crime has been committed, he must be charged. If he was not charged, I wasprepared to retire, to resign.K Das: Harun was a very naughty fellow. Even as a boy he was very naughty,always fighting with the neighbours children. Then he became MB (MentriBesar), but why was he sacked by Mahathir?Tunku: Adoi! Because he was dishonest.K Das: But I thought Mahathir did not mind dishonesty?Tunku: But there must be something. That is his brother-in-law. Because theSultan did not want him, he went to plead and cry until the Sultan allowedhim to be the MB for a term.
K Das: But Razali was also the man who betrayed Harun?Tunku: Harun betrayed Abu Bakar. They are all crooked. So I sacked Abu BakarBaginda. He was the legal advisor in Batu Road. He sneaked on the MB andthen Ghazali sneaked on him. They are all dirty. Allah! All so dirty. Harunworked against me when I sent him to England for legal education. Headmitted this that night when he came here for a public talk.Later, he worked with me through the Football Association and then he turnedagainst me yet again, working with Razak, Mahathir and others. Very dirty,but funny how he changed. When I came back from Saudi Arabia, there wastrouble in his camp. The police had surrounded his house and there were allthe youth inside. I had to go in and get him out. I told him, "You are nowrisking the lives of all these young people, you come to my house."I took him in my car to my house, No 5 Jalan Tunku, and told him to givehimself up. So he agreed and gave himself up to the police. Otherwise, allthose youngsters were going to fight it out.K Das: I know. We were all standing outside his house that night when thepolice surrounded his house.Tunku: That morning I went over. I arrived in KL and Raja, that TanjungKarang Raja, Raja Longchik, he came to the station and asked me to help. Hetook me directly to Haruns house. I climbed upstairs and took him back withme to my house because I said we could not talk business there, there weretoo many young people. They might make trouble. So I told the leaders of theyouth - Abdullah was one of them - "If you want to follow me, you can buthave a talk with Harun at my house." I told him to give up otherwise hewould have to bear the responsibility for whatever happened, so he gave upthen.Now hes 100 per cent for me. Do you know he came all the way from KL toattend my buka puasa function? When I came back from Jeddah, he and thePemuda (Youth) also came to Batu Feringghi to see me. I was staying there. Idont know what the trouble was then. I think they must have sensed it. Hewas a very strange fellow, changed, you couldnt hold him down. How he gothimself pardoned, I dont know. (chuckle) I moved the petition to get hissentences served concurrently. I did not mention any pardon, if they hadadded it on they must have done it after I had collected all the signatures.Mahathir came to see me in my office then.K Das: On behalf of Harun?Tunku: No, he was Acting PM then. Hussein Onn was in England or somewhere.So I told him and he did it.Pardoning Harun
K Das: Why did Mahathir come to see you?Tunku: Over this case, I asked him. I did not want to go and see him in hisoffice.K Das: What did he say?Tunku: He came and he said, "All right, Ill do it." So he did it. ButHussein Onn would not have done it. He did not like Harun, he is sodishonest.K Das: I dont understand how they could give him a pardon. A pardon is verydifficult to understand. The concurrent sentence I agree.Tunku: But the pardon was not in my appeal. I was the one who made theappeal, nobody else.<K Das: But his lawyer for the appeal was Marina YusofTunku: I never saw the lawyer. I called Mahathir. He came and he agreed toalter the sentence.K Das: I went to see Harun inside the jail. I went with Marina and his son.They are both lawyers. He said, "Whether I am guilty or not is not thequestion but this consecutive sentence is wrong."Tunku: That was wrong.K Das: Actually when I was talking to Marina and to him, I felt thatalthough he was in jail and she was the lawyer, I thought he knew more aboutthe law than she did and he certainly knew more than his son. He canremember very well all the cases. Mazlan, his son was not a very goodlawyer.Tunku: His son, oh! Is he qualified?K Das: Yes, hes qualified.Tunku: Oh, I didnt know.K Das: He is a lawyer. When I was with him in Pudu jail to see his father,his father corrected him. He said, "You are quoting the wrong cases, wrongstatute, wrong articles." Mazlan is not a very clever lawyer, Harun is aclever lawyer.Tunku: That is why they sent him to England to qualify as a lawyer. He was amagistrate under me.
The Tunku tapes: Troubles in The Star - Part 4Last modified: Saturday December 29, 12:47 pm11:55am, Sat: special After retirement, Tunku Abdul Rahman was offered a jobwith the Organisation of Islamic Countries in Jeddah. He returned home in1973 and became active in Perkim, the Muslim Welfare Organisation ofMalaysia. Soon after, he started writing his "As I See It" column in thePenang-based The Star newspaper, which is owned by MCA. The paper quicklygained in popularity and its scope of operations spread to Kuala Lumpur andthe rest of the country.K Das: Tunku, I would like to talk about the time of your involvement in TheStar. Now, how was the money taken from The Star to pay for Multi PurposeHoldings?Tunku: Oh! We didnt know about that. It was done behind our backs. When wesaw the mounting debt of RM8.5 million, we were very surprised. So we askedthem to explain how we got into debt to this extent because to the best ofour knowledge, we didnt owe anybody any money. Then it was disclosed thatwhen MCA joined us and when we moved to KL, we were using the building ofNanyang Siang Pau.When it became so big, we decided to have our own building and I managed toget very cheap land for that purpose from land belonging to Aziz for RM1.5million. It was in Cheras, in front of the Lady Templer Hospital. It wasvery cheap. Then after I had agreed to sell it to the staff for RM1.5million, they decided to buy this new piece of land for which we had toinvest RM16 million dollars.K Das: In PJ?Tunku: Yes, for RM16 million dollars. We undertook all the responsibilitiesof running and paying for Tong Pao because MCA bought Tong Pao. Then we hadto use MCA House built by Multi Purpose and we had to pay RM200,000 a month.That was really a bit too much. The most I would pay was RM20,000 and eventhat was already too high. But we had to pay RM200,000 a month.K Das: So that was how they got money from The Star - RM200,000 a month -for the Multi Purpose building.Tunku: I promised to pay dividends to the shareholders who never had anydividends since they joined The Star. It had been recorded every year andagreed to by the members but they had never been paid a cent.K Das: I think that during Lee San Choons time, he did not interfere atall. He did not interfere too much.Tunku: But they were doing this behind our backs.
K Das: I see.Tunku: They are very tricky.K Das: How was Gabriel Lee?Tunku: He was all right. He was all right but they did not disclose to me atevery meeting under the item. I cant remember how that amount of money thenbecame our liability. After that, we got rather worried. Three years ago,when we asked for a report on this, they all started making generalstatements on it but we got no details as to how we got into this amount ofdebt. Then we found out all these things. It was terrible.That is why he came to see me to assure me that everything would be allright. They sold their land in Kedah to pay the debt. Later on, they saidthey could only pay us about RM300,000. So I asked what was the good of thisRM300,000 when every year we had to pay interest to the bank of nearly amillion.They were paying me money as chairman but I said, "I dont think it is anhonest way of making money because I am merely writing for The Star."The mistake was to sell to the MCA. I did not realise they were like thatand that was the mistake I made. I could have raised the money, I was notsure what it was going to be like. We were only selling to MCA for RM3,000?I could have asked people to buy shares, it was an easy way out. We wereoffered shares at 75 percent for it. Then Abdullah Ahmad came along to buythe shares, to take over. Where was I going to get the money? He said hewould help, so I borrowed RM350,000 from him for my share. He paid me thechairmans salary which went towards paying the interest.I asked Tun Mustapha to join. He came and paid out RM1.8 million but whenthe people started to see profit increase from RM3,000 to RM6,000 toRM10,000, he said he could not pay anymore. So it went to the MCA. Theybought Tun Mustaphas share and bought my share. I kept only 30,000 - it was350,000 before. I paid from my salary as chairman of The Star as interesttowards the loan.PerkimK Das: Tunku, can we talk about your involvement with Perkim and itsactivities in Malaysia.We know you are the president of this association.Could you give us an idea of how this came about?Tunku: When I came back from my duties as secretary general of the IslamicOrganisation in the Middle East, I was asked to take over the chairmanshipof the religious welfare of Muslim converts. They dont call this missionarywork but it is in fact missionary work because we work among those people
who become converts to try and help them settle into their new life, to helpthem rehabilitate themselves and so on. We have achieved quite a lot ofsuccess and this is what they call work in connection with Muslim welfare.When we heard that the Cambodians had sought refuge in our country from thetyranny of the new regime, our duty naturally was to help. There was noother organisation to do this, so we went to show them that Perkim was doingeverything possible to look after them. They number something like 15,000.We got the help of the army to build tents for them and now they are movingthem to more permanent quarters in Sungai Besi. Our immediate concern now isto find money to feed them, clothe them and to teach them the language sothat as soon as they are able to speak Malay, we will then find work forthem.Most of these people are in fact quite well-to-do people in their owncountry. The poorer lot did not find any reason to flee but this lot,according to my information, had they remained behind, might have beenkilled by the communists because they are anti-communist. Their families arein the old anti-communist regime and some of their husbands are in militaryservice or in the armed forces and so these are the people who have run awayand sought shelter in this country. Our own government has not given anydirect help so it has become my lot to look after them.Tunku: The state government gives very little to us, only RM10,000 a year.K Das: Which state, Tunku?Tunku: Every state, to their respective Perkim - its not enough.K Das: RM10,000 a year?Tunku: In Penang, its only RM3,000 and that is not enough even for one day.K Das: Do you get anything from Fitrah?Tunku: No, they did not give us anything. Fitrah would have been a greathelp to us if they could give us a bit. But when we have conferences and weask the government for assistance, theyd help. Theyd given us RM200,000for a conference but the total cost was over a million. It is very difficultwork.K Das: The Pilgrims Fund, what is it called?Tunku: LUTH. No, they wont give either, that is only for the pilgrims.K Das: I would like to ask you this: Who started the pilgrims fund?Tunku: It was during my time but I cant remember now, too long ago. Icannot remember the details.
K Das: Do you think it was Ungku Aziz who came up with the idea first?Tunku: I dont know. Did he say he started it?K Das: Someone said he was responsible for the original idea to start it.Tunku: It was my time but I cant remember.K Das: He was very keen on cooperatives. He said that people were sellingtheir property and pawning their land to go to Mecca.Tunku: Maybe, but I dont remember.K Das: In fact, I think he thought of it as a cooperative, when you savemoney in it, you can go to Mecca. Whose idea was Perkim?Tunku: My idea. That was when I was PM. A few men like Mubin Shepherd,Chinese Muslims like Ibrahim Mah.K Das: Ibrahim Mah, Mubin Shepherd, who else?Tunku: Ahmad Nordin, his brother Aziz Zain and ... what is the name of thatIndian Muslim, he was a member of the Senate? Ubaidullah.K Das: He does not give many contributions. He is a miser.Tunku: Miser. But he gave me that Bengal tiger for appointing him as asenator . (chuckle) Bengal tiger! It is still in the room. So they sent asmall tiger, it is also in the room. He said, "This is too small for you."So he got a very big one. It must have been very expensive.K Das: Are you satisfied with your life and are you happy in yourretirement?Tunku: God has been very kind to me. I have served my time in the MiddleEast and I have served my time in this country as prime minister for 15years and I cannot ask for anything better. I am treated well, I have thecompany of my horses, I have all my children who are fit and well and so Icannot wish for anything better. I give all my thanks to God.Ghafar Baba overlookedK Das: I met Ghafar (Baba) for the first time during the Confrontation(Indonesias belligerent policy of Konfrontasi against the Malaysian merger)days in Malacca. I knew how he felt at that time. So when he changed hisallegiance I was surprised, very surprised because he was totally loyal toyou.
Tunku: He was. Then he knew he was the most senior vice-president. And sowhen Hussein Onn passed him over and picked Mahathir, it humiliated him inthe eyes of all the others. Why was he left out? Yet he did not do anything,he did not protest, he just carried on as if nothing had happened. That isthe mistake he made. But I was told he lost in his business ventures. Helost a lot of money, so to prevent himself from being sued, he accepted thepost as deputy. Mahathir used him only to go around and campaign for him.That is what he is doing everyday.K Das: But he is a sick man too?Tunku: Yes, he just had a heart operation. According to Hussein, he pickedMahathir because he considered him the best man. That was according to him,but not according to the general assembly. According to Hussein, he is adoctor, a better, more serious man. Tengku Razaleigh (Hamzah) was the nextbest person but Ghafar was more interested in business.Ghafar comes from a very humble birth without high education. Actually, hisfather was a headmaster and then later on, he became an officer in the auditdepartment. But do you know, Ghafar had to go round and rake the dustbin toget his breakfast. He will tell you the story himself. You go and talk tohim, tell him you are writing a book for Tunku and anything he wants to saywill be very useful. He was the original member of the Malay NationalistParty, MNP. As soon as I took over from Dato Onn, he left and joined me. Hewas one of the strongest supporters and helped to build up Umno. You go andsee him.K Das: These people are not very happy to see me because I am writing aboutyou.Tunku: You just say, "I am writing the Tunkus story. Have you anything tocontribute because according to Tunku, you were one of his comrades, one ofhis strongest comrades when fighting for independence. Have you anything tosay about it?"
The Tunku tapes: Umnos power struggle - Part 5Last modified: Sunday December 30, 6:37 pm11:26am, Sun: specialThe power struggle within Umno between Team A led by Prime Minister MahathirMohamad and Team B led by Razaleigh Hamzah was visible from about 1986. Thesplit in Umno was dramatically shown at the party general assembly in April1987 when Mahathir was re-elected by the skin of his teeth. What followedwas the sacking of Team B ministers from the cabinet. Team B members thenwent to court to seek a ruling that the outcome of the April 1987 partyelections be declared null and void.On Oct 27, 1987, Mahathir unleashed Operation Lallang, detaining more than106 dissidents (including the editor of this book, Kua Kia Soong) withouttrial under the Internal Security Act. Under the atmosphere of oppression,the Lord President and three Supreme Court judges were sacked. Umno wassubsequently declared "illegal" by the court. Team went on to form Umno Baru(New Umno). Throughout, the Tunku was staunchly on the side of Razaleigh.Tunku: The last Umno assembly consisted of 1,479 members but their assembly(Umno Baru) has only 35 members. What kind of assembly is this? Theyvechanged everything. Who appointed him (Mahathir)? He says 35 membersappointed him and Ghafar (Baba). He appointed the others. How they appointedhim I dont know.K Das: I was told that what they plan to do is to initiate a cadre systemlike in Singapore. In a cadre system you become a more or less...Tunku: A dictator, lah! How does it work?K Das: Basically when you appoint somebody, he becomes a kind of a liaisonofficer, a permanent liaison officer and they become members of the board,special members. They have special links with the leaders. So these fellowsare appointed and all the leaders would be picked from the cadres. In otherwords it is a party within a party.Tunku: First form a cadre, then appoint an official cadre - in other words,it is a closed system like Lee Kuan Yews!K Das: Do you think he will go for the general elections?Tunku: He has been avoiding the elections all the time. He wants to avoidgoing back to the status quo ante and hold the election at that level, thegeneral assembly of Umno. He should have gone back but he didnt want tobecause he is afraid of elections. He worked his way around where Umno wasdeclared illegal, so he could set up his own Umno, collected his supporters,registered them and included all the divisional branches. He has collected
his own men but underground, the soil was giving way and the only way was tobury the whole lot of them. How he is going to avoid holding elections Idont know.K Das: He is trying a new constitutional system whereby every nominationgives him 10 seats automatically. So as soon as he is nominated, he gets 10votes from every division. He has arranged for that, so when he goes to theelections, before the voting begins, he already has 10 votes in his hands.Since all the divisions are under his control, they will all nominate him. Isuspect when he goes to the assembly, somebody will propose that there be noelections because he already has 1,000 votes . Indonesian style, so-calledconsensus.Tunku: That is in Indonesia.K Das: But Indonesia is run along those lines you know. Of course the wholeidea is to avoid elections.Tunku: I visualised this sort of thing would happen. When we drafted thelaw, when we drafted the constitution, the election regulations and so on,we just stated straight-forward democratic like elections...Three robbersTunku: I am not trying to put him (Mahathir) up to ridicule or contempt, Iam just telling the people what sort of man he was. You see how he startedby libelling me - he called me a man without conscience. He said all theMalays hated me, that at the time during the Emergency, I played poker. I donot know how he knew if I played poker or not .Actually, he is talking aboutwhat he is himself. He is just worse than that. That is what I was trying toprove to the people, what type of man he is and so I decided to write thisbook. I started with the events, I did not imagine the things happening. Asthe events happened, I made my little comments as to why it happened andall.K Das: In your concept of the book, in all these events, do you intend tobegin with the current events and carry on?Tunku: I am writing about all these events as they happened. You see, I sentin my affidavit because that was what we thought was the right stand forUmno. Umno stood for Malaysia, Malaysia for Umno. I mentioned that when DatoOnn (Jaafar) wanted to open the door to non-Malays, the Umno people refusedto accept and so I came and took over when Dato Onn left.He was not expelled, he left on his own accord, on his own free will to forma new party, IMP (Independence of Malaya Party). And then I took over Umnoand carried on until we got our independence. But we worked, built it up andturned it, by the time I left, into a powerful political party in thiscountry, the strongest political party in this country.
Then all of a sudden, this thing has happened today. And as it happens, theprime minister has said he is forming a new Umno to take over the old Umnoafter the court has declared it illegal. But the Umno he has formed is notthe same as the old Umno. He has restricted membership, all are his ownmembers, all his own supporters. Those who do not support him cannot join.He cannot take over the whole of Umno unless he follows every rule and lawand regulation of Umno. But he has not done that.As soon as we protested to the court asking for an injunction, the courtrefused to give on the grounds that they are right, they have followed theconstitution. They are recognised, they are registered, but we are not. Wewere the first to apply but they wont give us . what to do? There is nolaw, no justice, no freedom of speech. Anybody who speaks out goes toprison. So hes got all the members of the opposition in prison. Now, whatkind of politics are we having today?This is what worries me and all the responsible citizens in this country, nomatter what race they come from. We are all worried. The country is drained,dry, no more capital. People are saying, in this country today there arethree big robbers - Umno robs the bank, MCA robs the co-operative societiesand the MIC robs the highway. They have become bank robbers, co-operativerobbers and highway robbers. That is what they are saying. That is a sadthing that should not have happened.Republic in two weeksK Das: In your book, you have traced these events up to the currentsituation. I thought our troubles became really clear during theconstitutional crisis in 1983 when this mans character became clear. Do youagree with that? In 1983, Mahathir tried to change the constitution but theRulers assent was not forthcoming.Tunku: I wrote about that in my book. He could set up a republic in thiscountry within two weeks. All he has to do is put it to the parliament withhis two-thirds majority, they accept it and if the consent does not come oris not approved or disapproved within two weeks, it becomes law.And so, he can turn this country from a monarchy into a republic in twoweeks. There are other amendments to the constitution and that is why Isuggested there should be a review of the constitution. It was to review theconstitution that Chandra (Muzaffar) held a seminar for. As a result ofthat, Chandra was taken in (under Operation Lallang) and my paper (The Star)suspended.K Das: That is why I asked you Tunku, was it not the constitutionalamendments of 1983 which were the beginning of all he tried to change?Tunku: There are many changes he has made. This is not the only one but I
dont want to say it is the beginning. I did not take it seriously then butI was becoming concerned and that is why I suggested we should have areview. If anything needs to be changed, there should be a review beforechanges are made so that the people will have an idea of what is happening.But changes are made so suddenly by them and nobody speaks against it, itbecomes law.K Das: Many people wanted the review, including the Sultan of Perak, SultanAzlan Shah.Tunku: There was a proposal before when we drafted the constitution. Wesuggested there should be a review in 10 or 12 years, I cant remember. Buthe wont have it. He wanted to bring about change all the time. The worstthing was the meeting of the Umno Assembly on the April 14, 1987. That iswhat started the whole thing.K Das: Exactly one year tomorrow.Tunku: When they had the general election, he nearly lost except for the 30unregistered members who cast their votes in his favour, giving him theseat. After that, normally when any question arises, he should have agreedto go back to the status quo ante.They called for it but he did not oblige because he knew he could not winand so we took the case to the court which declared the whole thing illegal.It suited him very well and so he started this new party but we startedfirst. Actually both were wrong. When a party is declared illegal, youvegot to wait for the court of appeal to decide.K Das: But nobody appealed.Tunku: We appealed.K Das: At that time?Best judiciary in AsiaTunku: We appealed afterwards but they did not. They came in later on April13. Now that the appeal has been made, theyve got a stay of execution untilthe appeal ...Then we asked for an injunction but they wouldnt give it tous. That is why I dont understand the law now . very confusing. They tookthis man Ajaib (Singh), who is a non-Malay. He was very concerned about allthis and then I heard from this lady Marina (Yusuf), who said that the chiefjudge went to the chambers of Ajaib to talk to him.K Das: When?Tunku: When the case had started, the same day.
K Das: Really? My goodness, thats wrong!Tunku: Hes a friend of Mahathirs. He knows there is no more democracy. Yousay anything, you get put in and you are not allowed to reply nor allowed tohold rallies to defend yourself. Only Mahathir can go from place to place toattack us. He must be stopped from doing that because we cant reply. Ourrequest was fair enough.If he wants to persist in doing that he should allow us to reply but theywont allow. He says democracy in this country is freedom of speech to allbut surely he is not blind to what is happening here. We cannot talk. Howcan you say theres freedom when it is clear that this is not the case?K Das: I also feel that if the judges behave like this, they would soon geta bad reputation abroad.Tunku: They have got it now.K Das: Because our judges have a very good reputation overseas.Tunku: We are the best in Asia.K Das: Param Cumarasamy was telling me in Australia and New Zealand, he wascomplimented many times on our judiciary.Tunku: We have a free judiciary just now. As a result of what has happenedin the case of (Lim) Kit Siang (in challenging the North-South Highwayconcession) where it was decided by a majority of three against two that KitSiang had no right to interfere with the...K Das: No locus standi.Tunku: But what is he? He is a leader of the opposition. If things like thishappen, if he cannot talk, who can?K Das: I am trying to get this book in my mind while you are talking but Ican see now that you can begin basically with the Umno Assembly and build upto the present state.Tunku: Yes, I will start with the Umno Assembly - big, big change.Inferiority complex is his disease and to overcome that he is now forcinghimself over and above others, almost insinuating that the Rulers should notbe there.K Das: This is the point that I was insisting earlier when I was workingwith the Far Eastern Economic Review, that his aim was to get rid of theRulers.Tunku: He did not directly say that, but thats the way he is behaving...
K Das: When they amended the constitution, you said...Tunku: .that I was afraid that when it came to the Rulers, they must approvewithin two weeks anything passed by Parliament. If they do not, it becomeslaw - that made me nervous.K Das: If it is unchallenged, we become a republic.Irresponsible manTunku: We can become a republic in two weeks - that is dangerous. He is anirresponsible man. He cares nothing for class, for law, for order, for theconstitution. What suits him, he just does it. You remember once he saidthat you must be loyal, you must not idolise the leader? But what did he do?He called everybody to Parliament to swear allegiance to him. Now he isgoing round the country on a so-called campaign . campaign for what? Tosupport him, not to support the party. If he wants them to support theparty, then bring back the old Umno.K Das: Or have an assembly, invite everybody!Tunku: Having an assembly would show that he has respect for the party, butthat is what he is trying to avoid.K Das: Hes developing a personality cult.Tunku: No, he suffers from that disease - inferiority complex. That is oneof the diseases we find in the political world. Look at Idi Amin - he got 10Englishmen to carry him in a chair in order to overcome his inferioritycomplex. That is dangerous. Its a way of taking revenge. That is what he isdoing.K Das: He seems to be without shame because he said there should be nopublic rallies and yet he holds rallies quite blatantly.Tunku: For himself yes . but for other people, rallies are not allowed.K Das: You could not speak in Kelantan, Razaleigh could not speak inKelantan...Tunku: Why? Because he is not being fair-minded. He tells the world he is afair minded man, a just man, a true leader. He only does it to take overtelevision. Every time the TV starts, its, "PM says this, DPM says this,Mat Rahmat says this." What else is there to say? So they attack people.This is the reason for the affidavit which I brought to court - to stop himfrom doing this. But the court says he is right. Freedom of speech for whom?Freedom of speech for him, but others like me and Hussein Onn cannot speak.
K Das: Have you seen Tun Hussein?Tunku: I went to call on him. He was in the emergency ward. They are sendinghim out of emergency now.K Das: He is very unlucky with his health?Tunku: Yes.Bapa Proton SagaK Das: I was told by Chandra that when he (Mahathir) was in Perlis, he madea speech in a rally in which he said all sorts of silly things. He made someremarks about how some people are called "Bapa (Father) this" and Bapathat".very rude of him. But Chandra said there were so many threateningletters to him, death threats and letters, very heavy security. He wasscared. People are getting angry and yet even then, he still makes veryprovocative remarks.Tunku: Yes, we cannot answer. Now for instance, about "Bapa this and that",I did not ask them to call me "Bapa". They did that on their own accord. Iwas not even officially designated "Bapa Malaysia" (Father of Malaysia).People liked to call me that. Now he says they must stop calling me that.K Das: Chandra was saying that they called him, "Bapa Proton Saga (TheNational Car)". They called Tunku Razaleigh "Bapa Ekonomi Malaysia". When hewas a very young man, Tunku Razaleigh told me in those days I am nobodysbapa, yet why are they calling me this?Tunku: We did not ask for this. Out of sheer regard, consideration andthought for us - this is a Malay habit, Malay custom. Customs and habits diehard.K Das: I think when people do this out of their own hearts, nobody shoulddetract from it. I think it is what the Malays call "kurang ajar". Whensomeone is going out of his way to express his feelings, you cannotcriticise him because you are just criticising yourself.Tunku: He is free to say what he wants to say but nobody else can reply andthis is what is in my affidavit. He must not talk unless he allows us totalk or defend ourselves. Then he brings up the May 13 riots to scare thepeople.
The Tunku tapes: Mahathirs inferiority complex - Part 6Last modified: Monday December 31, 7:17 pm11:28am, Mon: special According to Tunku Abdul Rahman, Prime Minister DrMahathir Mohamad has an inferiority complex. This was because hisgrandfather was an Indian and father was part-Malay. Furthermore, he is acommoner.K Das: He (Mahathir) is following Lee Kuan Yews style.Tunku: No, Lee Kuan Yew had his path all cleared, nicely cleared and hewould travel along that path. But Mahathirs path is cluttered. He has notgot his way cleared. It is not the same.K Das: I was thinking of Lee Kuan Yew in the early days. He had all thesepotholes but he used his force...Tunku: I know him well. He used to consult me. He used to clear the pathfirst. He just travelled on the potholes with the referendum he had. I saidto him, "Are you sure you are going to win your referendum because thisother PAP leader Dr Lee Siew Choh appears to be very strong."He was very sure. He was going to do this, he was going to do that and thenhe started to campaign very early, playing Chinese music and what have you,going all over the place. He worked really hard. He cleared his path.But this man does not do this, he wants the easiest way out by using hispower. He does not care what happens underneath. That is why I said if hefights the election, he does not know whether he will get the support of thegrassroots, he goes to the kampong to get his seats but Kuan Yew alwaysprepared his way, that I know.K Das: But if he is afraid of losing the battle, he will tell that man toback down.Tunku: He wont ask him to back down, he will just put the man in detention.He is not that type of man. But one thing - you can take that from me - heis one of those who hate all this Malay adat (etiquette) and custom. Hehates all this.K Das: He is the one who made the classic statement that Malays are toopolite.Tunku: He? I wish he were polite.K Das: I once asked him, "Is it possible for any person in the world to betoo polite?" He said he had to think about that...No respect
Tunku: You see, the Malays have a cause for adat, resam and so on .tradition. I have a respect for it but he has none. He dislikes it. You see,his whole aim is to upset the constitution and turn this country into arepublic. His son was in London talking quite openly amongst the studentsthat his father is going to be the first president of Malaysia.K Das: I heard his daughter was also talking about it here.Tunku: The daughter?K Das: Yes, Marina.Tunku: The one married to the chef?K Das: Yes. Apparently she was caught talking about it at a party notknowing that behind her was one of the Tengkus from Negeri Sembilan whooverheard it. She said that as soon as the constitution amendment is signed,it is finished, we can become a republic.Tunku: That is the thing. That is his ambition. His health has suffered as aresult of this class consciousness. They did not give him a place. That iswhy he told this man Dr Ling (Liong Sik) that I never liked him even as aboy.K Das: I cannot understand why he felt at that time he was special. He wasjust another doctor in Kedah. What was so special about him?Tunku: That is why he hates all these aristocrats and so on because he hasno standing. You know his grandfather came from India. His father is halfIndian or three-quarters Indian. Then his father came to Alor Setar andmarried a Malay and so he is half or three-quarters Malay and one quarterIndian. But nevertheless, he has felt a certain . er, you know . as if theylooked down on him.To overcome that inferiority complex, which as I told you before is theworst disease a man can have, you would do things you wouldnt normally do.Like in my case, in those days when I was in Cambridge, they despisedcoloured people who came from India and elsewhere. Anybody whose colour wasblack or dark, they would call an Indian and they really showed it. Toovercome this feeling of inferiority I bought the most expensive, at thattime, super sports car and I sped through town in it making quite a nuisanceof myself. Just to be noticed.K Das: As a young man it is different.Tunku: But the inferiority complex is there. It forces you to do all thethings you do not want to do.
K Das: Being a young man is understandable. Being a mature man...SpoilsportTunku: Some carry this complex throughout their lives. Like this man IdiAmin - to overcome his inferiority complex, he asked the Englishmen to carryhim on a chair. You see, you just carry on, there is no end to it. But in mycase, perhaps because of my upbringing, when I got what I wanted that wasthe end of it all.I did not like the British before because they were sombong (proud). Theyliked to throw their weight around everywhere, everything had to be forthem. Now we are educated, we can at least call ourselves their equal but wedo not like to be considered their inferior. We feel we know enough aboutadministration, politics and everything else. We are as good as they are andif we are qualified with the same degree as them and we are given certainjobs while they are given top jobs, now that is the sort of thing thatannoyed me. I have been good and friendly with them. I helped them, I showedthem a lot.K Das: In fact, one of the things we remember about you Tunku in the club isthat when the club was renewed, you allowed them to retain for a long timetheir privilege to get liquor duty free.Tunku: Oh yes! I gave them everything they used to have.K Das: But I think that the first prime minister who refused to give, as thepresident of the club, was Mahathir.Tunku: Mahathir? Before that, they were given duty free . I believe inliving and being happy, otherwise what the hell do you want to live for? Howlong do you expect to live for? Only yesterday I was running and jumpingabout as a kid, then as a young man, then a grown-up man, now I cant evenwalk. So why the hell do you want to make a nuisance of your life and makeother people unhappy? Your duty when you take over leadership of the countryis to make the people happy, that is the main thing.K Das: One of the extraordinary thing about prime ministers of this countryis that the first, second and third were not only lawyers but all interestedin sports. Now, the fourth prime minister is not a lawyer and is notinterested in sports.Tunku: He is very much a loner.K Das: To me, it is a very important for a man to love his sport, to have asporting habit.Tunku: Yes, because those who love sport can understand. They compete with asporting instinct but this man has never liked that, he is a real
spoilsport.Rule by lawK Das: Going back to the book I am writing on the current crisis - onequestion I want to ask you is: I feel very strongly Dr Mahathir, and Ibelieve most of his cabinet do not understand what the rule of law means.They know rule by law.Tunku: They do not care.K Das: How do you explain rule of law to these people. How do you put itsimply to them?Tunku: The only thing we can do is to write, talk, hold conferences to bringall this to their attention but now, because they do not know the rule oflaw, they forbid us from doing all this. Anything that is likely to givethem the feeling that they are not doing their work, they will not allow.They say they are the right people to run this government. All the time theyare campaigning from one end of the country to another.The television every night broadcasts what the government is doing, whatthis minister is doing, what that minister is doing and so on but neverabout how the people are suffering, never about what the people want . onlywhat the government is doing.We see so much of this that I dont turn on the news anymore. There isnothing to listen to, only this self-opinionated government doing work forthe people. You cannot talk, you cannot hold seminars, you cannot write. Myefforts in writing a little bit is the most I can do. If I do any more, thenmy paper (The Star) will be closed down again, suspended. And these peoplewho work with us, all 800 of them will be thrown out of their jobs. So Icannot do anything.K Das: Can you think of a simple way of explaining the difference betweenthe rule of law and the rule by law?Tunku: This is what they are doing now. They dont know any rule of law,they dont care about the law, they suspend and amend the law to suit theirplans. So they rule by the law which they know to keep themselves in power.If you disagree with them or criticise them then you go to prison. That iswhat is happening here today.K Das: How would you define the rule of law?Tunku: You must observe the law, respect and uphold the law, that is how itis supposed to be. To respect the rule of law, you dont have to be alawyer. We know the rule of the law is supposed to provide justice and soon. We know all that, but there are certain questions that have to do with
justice and fair play.Natural justiceK Das: The way I understand it, the rule of law is the rule by laws whichobserve the principles of natural justice.Tunku: That is the main thing - natural justice.K Das: If you go beyond that, it is only a legality.Tunku: Thats right. To free the people of the world, we look toward naturaljustice to provide us with protection and to give us freedom to do certainthings within the law, not outside of the law because there are so manypenal codes, laws that tell you where you go wrong, what is right and whatis wrong.If you go and pinch somebodys money, you know you are doing wrong. If yougo and crack somebodys head, you know that you are doing wrong but all thatis within common knowledge of all men and so it is within that rule of lawthat you can do anything you like. But of course in countries which we calldemocratic countries like ours, the people are supposed to be free to followtheir way of life, to follow their religion, customs, habits and traditions.K Das: New education and so on. For example, this man - when he wasinterviewed by Tan Chee Khoon - says that capital punishment for drugtrafficking is not too severe. He said, "Well, they know what they are doingso they can hang."Tunku: When I first became prime minister of this country, I had adiscussion with the British government and the chairman of that group wasLord Hare. I said to Lord Hare, "Whatever you do, you cannot stop this opiumhabit and drug habit, you cant do it. The only thing you can do perhaps, isto provide them with a medical certificate. With this certificate, you areallowed to take opium."He replied, "You see, I agree with you Tunku, the only thing is that theUnited Nations has decided on this particular ban on the drug habit."But I said, "They know you cant stop it, this trafficking will go on. Thesame with prostitution, they decided against prostitution but can they stopit? It is the oldest profession in the world. But they could not stop it.Why dont they regulate the profession like in France? They had massagehouses in the old days where all the girls are examined medically so thatthey can be certified to be free of disease and so on . but to stop it, youknow you cannot. Why do they want to mess things up like that? I amparticularly against the punishment of death for drug possession.Secondly, there are certain kinds of drugs like ganja (marijuana). Ganja is
a drug that they take everywhere in the Middle East, in India, Pakistan andso on. When I played golf in Pakistan, in Islamabad, all those bushes aroundthe golf course were all full of ganja. They grew wild everywhere. So topunish people in possession of ganja with death is too severe when you cangrow it in the backyard. You must know how to prepare it, you cannot pack itup and take it just like that. It wont be any good. When the Pakistanicaddy produced it from his pocket to taste, it was in a slab, black incolour, like belacan (prawn paste).K Das: I think the death sentence for drug trafficking is too severe andbesides, it does not work.Tunku: It does not work, that is the point. Why not register the drugaddicts?K Das: In fact, I want to go further and suggest that if you register them,the drug traffickers will lose out because they have nothing to sell.Tunku: Yes, they lose out.Contracts for rich MalaysTunku: Now my determination is to fight Mahathir. How I am going to fighthim I dont know except through my writing. But even then, I cant write toomuch.K Das: I think Tunku, what you told me last week or last month, I think itis going to be prophetic because you said that he has made so many mistakes...Tunku: Everythings happened and he is going to pay for his own misdeeds. Hehas not shown any results. Kuan Yew at least has shown some results,building up Singapore into a very strong financial state from nothing. Buthere, with all our wealth, he has wasted it all.What I have been reading about the North-South Highway, this is his ownundoing. How can you do that when everybody was talking about how thegovernment is spending RM3.5 billion and the contracts have been given toyour own business interest. Then they collect the toll for 30 years. How canyou do a thing like that when the government is spending all that money! Thegovernment should collect the toll.K Das: The Malays are complaining because they are given the contracts onlyto rich Malays. They are not giving poor Malays anything.Tunku: More contracts have been given to Malays since Merdeka.K Das: In those days, Malays, Chinese and Indians all got contracts...
Tunku: They were all given contracts. Razak started all this - only thosewho support Umno get anything.A police stateK Das: Yes, I have often thought about this. Indeed, Dato Onn could havesaid, "No, I will do what I like." In those days it was so easy, not likenow, there was hardly any opposition. I think that he was a gentleman, thereis the difference.Tunku: It comes from good breeding.K Das: And he was not mad about power.Tunku: He was ambitious but he wouldnt do anything wrong, even to cling topower. He wouldnt abuse the constitution but this man is abusing it andputting the fault on others.K Das: He is using the police as if it was his own private army.Tunku: But thats what hes been doing all along. That is why I call this apolice state. He can put me under house arrest like the Indonesian regimedid to Sukarno before, he can do that...K Das: But on what grounds?Tunku: Oh! Dont worry about the grounds - all my letters, all my articleswritten against him, he doesnt require any more grounds than that. Othershave been sent in who have not done half as much as what I have writtenagainst him.My paper (The Star) cant be published but I put my articles in otherpapers. No dont worry about the grounds. He can amass all the grounds inorder to meet his own object, to carry on with his desire to cripple me.
The Tunku Tapes: Judiciary under assault - Part 7Last modified: Tuesday January 1, 5:56 pm11:16am, Tue: specialIn May 1988, while those dissidents detained without trial under "OperationLallang" were still languishing in Kamunting Detention Camp, Prime MinisterMahathir Mohamad suspended two Supreme Court judges and removed the LordPresident Tun Salleh Abas, the highest judicial officer of the land.This entire episode is recorded and told by K Das in one of his mostwell-known books, May Day For Justice. This assault on the Malaysianjudiciary pre-empted the case brought to the courts by Umnos Team B led byMahathirs challenger, Razaleigh Hamzah. The verdict was a foregoneconclusion.K Das: About the Lord President, have you read the story yet?Tunku: Yes. When was he made Lord President?K Das: Hamid (Omar)?Tunku: Hamid. There is nothing in the New Straits Times, is there?K Das: I think they are trying to make it a secret hearing, Tunku.Tunku: Secret hearing!K Das: I think it will be in the open.Tunku: But he said that if the Lord President Salleh (Abas) wants it open,they would have to agree to it.K Das: He said that if they want it open, the tribunal would consider it butit does not look like they are going to consider it. They also said that itis up to the King to reveal it.Tunku: We have never had it before so it is very difficult to say what isgoing to happen but I dont like the charge of "misbehaviour". I think itshould be "misconduct". It really sounds bad.K Das: What is the Malay word for "misconduct"?Tunku: What do they say?K Das: Nothing.Tunku: Biadap (uncouth) is not a good word to use. The other word is kurangajar (lacking in breeding), which is even worse.
K Das: What about misconduct?Tunku: Misconduct ... Not easy to translate. I think biadap or kurang ajar,but the charge for misbehavior is bad. It should be "misconduct" for theLord President. And then he went to complain to the Agung . but where elsecould he go? So I said in my letter to the Sultan of Kelantan, that it wasthe only way open to him.I added that if he (Mahathir) acquires that power, the pillar of justicewould fall. The Raja of Perlis was also very worried and he came to see mebut one day before his letter arrived, the Sultan of Kelantan also handed mea letter. If he acquires all this power as dictator, there would be nofreedom to talk in Parliament or outside Parliament.What has made me feel rather unhappy is that the Yang di Pertuan Agong tookaction on his own without consulting the other rulers. That is what heshould have done - consult the rulers. What I feel strongly about is thatthe Raja-Raja (Rulers) should call for the emergency meeting or Conferenceof Rulers and discuss this matter with the Yang di Pertuan Agong. The peoplewould then have greater confidence in the Raja-Raja. Otherwise they wouldfeel very disappointed that the Raja-Raja do not seem to show any interest.I want to give copies of this letter to the Rulers who have sympathy with usand I hope they will give their permission to send copies to the otherRulers. Personally I feel that Salleh has no choice but to write to theRulers and to the Agong and tell them his predicament as head of thejudiciary when the law was interfered with by the executive and I agree towhat he has done. That was what I said.K Das: So you are asking his permission to circulate this letter to theRulers?Tunku: Yes, copies to the Rulers who are in sympathy with us . "Perkembanganpertalian di antara pihak perentah dan judiciary" . "With regard to therelationship between the executive and the judiciary.the PM appears tofavour the Umno cases that were brought to trial in the courts ... I feelthat you might wish to know what took place." This was the letter that theLord President sent to the Rulers, I sent a copy of the letter which Ireceived.K Das: That is the covering note.Tunku: (reading first paragraph of the letter and translating it). He wroteto the secretary of the Sultan. He writes on behalf of himself and on behalfof the other judges of the High Court."We feel lost because many things, many comments and innuendoes have beenmade by the PM" . suggesting they are not doing right and so on." We have
been very patient even though we did not do anything and we never replied toall his comments and criticisms"...At least not officially. He embarrassed all the judges with all thiscriticism. It would not be right or proper for him to make an officialcomment."I would like to remind him that we are judges and this criticism was madeoutside as well as inside parliament. Whatever it was, we are judges,exercising our patience and keeping quiet. Under the constitution, we aresupposed to be free and independent before the Agong and the Raja-RajaMelayu. As such, it is our right to defend the constitution. We feel ashamedto be criticised in this way and so we hope that all this attack on thejudges and the judiciary will stop. This is all I wish to inform yourMajesty."You see, they were in an awkward situation. They feel that the Rulers andthe Agung should defend the constitution and ask him to stop.Judicial misbehaviourK Das: In the present situation, do you think Salleh Abas - we know he wasfrustrated - but was it right on his part to write to the Agong?Tunku: That is the point you see. They are supposed to be appointed by theAgong and as it happened in this case, he wanted to leave the service so hehad to write to the Agong.K Das: Not the PM?Tunku: No, you see the Agong gave him the letter asking him to leave. Sincehe intended to retire, he asked him to leave but the letter came from theAgong not from the PM. Of course, he said the actual work was done by thePM. All the judges were appointed by me. Whether he has the right to writeto the Agong or not, that is not the question, it is difficult for me toanswer but he was desperate enough.All this was the work of the PM - interfering with the judiciary was the actof the PM. What is the use of his writing to the PM? He might as well writeto the Agong and the Rulers to inform them and at the same time prepare toresign. This is what was in his mind. Then after he had sent the letter ofresignation, he felt that this letter might be an admission of his guiltbecause he did not feel he was guilty, so he withdrew the letter and askedthe government to take whatever action they wanted. So they had to appointthis tribunal to decide on this "misbehaviour", as they called it.K Das: I cant understand how they can accuse him of misbehaviour.Tunku: I dont think they should use the word for when you disagree with the
government. I dont know what they should use - misbehaviour sounds verysmall.K Das: It is used for something petty....Tunku: Or for a very big case of misbehaviour, to discredit the person inpublic.K Das: But he did not do anything...Tunku: No, that is the thing. He wrote to the Rulers but they accused him ofsiding with our side, interfering with Umno. As far as I am concerned, henever wrote to me or talked to me about this.K Das: Apparently, he wanted to recommend that the Supreme Court must sit onthe appeal with the full quorum of nine judges.Tunku: That is right, that is what I heard.K Das: They got very worried about that.Tunku: But why did they say he was tied to our Umno?K Das: I think they felt that if there were nine judges, their chances wouldbe reduced. They must have felt that this man was deliberately putting thewhole bench because they were standing by his side. But there was no elementof suspicion.Tunku: As far as we are concerned, you said it to us - that he is partial toa judge.K Das: I was told that Raja Aziz (Addruse) used his right as a counsel whenhe asked for a full bench?Tunku: He did, but they didnt give.K Das: They didnt give?Tunku: So what?K Das: Apparently they wanted and for some time there was a talk of sevenjudges but I think Mahathir objected even to that.Tunku: He wanted five.K Das: Or maybe one. You know as small a number as possible. That seemed tobe his worry.Tunku: But as far as we are concerned, we have no evidence that he ever took
our side.K Das: What surprised me today Tunku is that they have now elevated...Tunku: Harun.K Das: Why is that?Tunku: That is what I cant understand. First they put him in Commercial,then they made him Supreme Court judge. I dont think it is very difficultto read his mind.K Das: Do you think they are afraid he might be involved in some morecommercial crimes?Tunku: I dont know, to push him upstairs, maybe.K Das: But of course, if he is Supreme Court judge in the case of the 11Umno people, he will also be very strong.Going too farTunku: No, Ive touched on that in the article I am going to show you.K Das: I saw that. Why did he do that? Why did he change a written judgment?Tunku: Well, the written judgment is the one that counts. The oral judgmentjust decides that the person is guilty so the sentence is passed, but whenthe person appeals to the Appeal Court then youve got to use the records ofthe written judgment on which to base your judgment. That is what he did.But this man liked the oral judgment, he did not like the written judgment.So he criticised him. It is not right for a PM to criticise judges.K Das: I think they have gone too far now.Tunku: Mahathir? Yes, much too far.K Das: To go against Tun Salleh was a very dangerous thing to do. In fact,the Bar Council is up in arms. They are all very angry. In fact they calledfor a meeting of the entire Bar in the whole country. One lawyer told me inPenang that he is recommending that they all close down for one week inprotest.Tunku: I think it will be a good thing.K Das: But I dont know whether they will do it.Tunku: Because the life of a man is dependent on their help.
K Das: His good name, his whole life is dependent on it.Tunku: I think that what they should do is have a meeting and send him theprotest, send the protest to him. They can work it out.K Das: I have got a feeling that they want to get rid of him.Tunku: That is really bad.K Das: But I cant recall, Tunku, of any other Lord President or SupremeCourt judge in the whole world being suspended like that.Tunku: I have never known myself.K Das: I think the nearest one was the impeachment of an American judge manyyears ago.Tunku: I have not heard of this.K Das: In the British Commonwealth, I have certainly never heard of it.Tunku: The time will come. We have to find a way to put this man in hisplace. We cannot at the moment because he controls the law - what do you dowith a man like that? But the time will come...----------------------------------------------------------------The Tunku Tape - a newly launched book based on the interviews of Malaysiasfirst prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman by veteran journalist K Das. Thebook is edited by social activist Dr Kua Kia Soong and is published byStrategic Info Research Development._________