‘Blackmail’ forced Tunku’s hand

Continuing with the countdown to our nation’s 50th Anniversary of Independence, the NST today published an item on the Father of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman. Those who are interested in the history of our nation should find this article interesting.

Tunku Ahmad Nerang points to himself as a boy in an old family portrait, with his grandparents Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah of Kedah and Che Manjalara (seated), his father Tunku Abdul Rahman and his sister, Tunku Khadijah at the old palace in Alor Star.

Tunku Ahmad Nerang points to himself as a boy in an old family portrait, with his grandparents Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah of Kedah and Che Manjalara (seated), his father Tunku Abdul Rahman and his sister, Tunku Khadijah at the old palace in Alor Star.

The Tunku spent more time in politics than with his family. The nation was the first love of the country’s first prime minister. Tunku Ahmad Nerang talks to SONIA RAMACHANDRAN about what it was like being the son of a statesman

TUNKU Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj was a reluctant politician.

According to his son, Tunku Ahmad Nerang, the first prime minister refused the post of Umno president in 1951 when Datuk Onn Jaafar stepped down.

Apparently, Tun Abdul Razak had asked him to take over but the Tunku was adamant. The Tunku only relented after Utusan Melayu’s Melan Abdullah (later Tan Sri) threatened to publish the headline Tunku mungkir janji pada rakyat (Tunku reneges on his promise to the people).

This was because he had promised in 1946, before leaving for England to complete his law course, that he would return and fight for independence when he passed his exams.”My father asked Melan to give him a month. After two months of waiting, Melan went to see Tunku. The Tunku asked for another month.”When that too was up, a fed-up Melan went to see him again and said he had no choice but to publish an article with the heading, Seorang Anak Raja Tidak Mahu Membela Rakyat ( A prince does not want to fight for the people).”

The Tunku then said that he would consider the request on one condition — that he had the total support of Umno and that it would be full independence and nothing less.

“He felt independence under British protection would only benefit a few and not the masses,” Tunku Nerang, 74, said. What probably clinched it for the Tunku were the “voices” he heard in court in Alor Star one day.

“He heard voices calling out ‘Putra’, the name his father, Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah of Kedah, used to call him.

“Tunku couldn’t see anyone calling him. All he could hear were voices,” Tunku Nerang said.

After the case was over, the Tunku went to his father’s room in the old palace nearby, sat in his father’s rattan rocking chair and fell asleep.

“He then dreamt that his father had said, ‘Putra, belalah rakyat (Putra, fight for the people). Tunku woke up then but since he was very tired, he fell asleep again.

“This time it was Indian nationalist Mahatma Gandhi and former Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru who he saw in his dreams,” said Tunku Nerang.

His father, he said, took this as a sign that it was time for him to do something. He left Alor Star by car and arrived in Kuala Lumpur at 1am.

He went straight to Melan’s house in Kampung Baru and told him to see him the next day.

Melan did — and the Tunku told him that he would accept the post of Umno president.

“And that was how my father, proposed by Bahaman Samsudin (the late Tan Sri who was minister of justice) and seconded by Melan, was voted in as the president of Umno to replace Onn at the Majestic Hotel Roof Garden in 1951.”

Like the British aristocracy, Tunku Nerang was also expected to enter the military. So in 1954, he was sent to India to enrol in the Military Academy in Derahdun.

That was how he came to fly the Malayan flag at the Malayan High Commission in New Delhi on Aug 31, 1957. Also present at the ceremony were Nehru and his daughter, Indira Gandhi.

“I was very proud to raise the flag, as it had the markings of a full and truly independent country, not a British protectorate, besides the fact that independence was achieved without the shedding of a drop of blood,” he said.

That wasn’t the only occasion that Tunku Nerang raised the country’s flag. On Sept 16, 1963, he once again raised the flag, but this time it was at Stadium Merdeka — and the flag was the Malaysian flag.

In December 1958, Tunku Nerang returned to Malaya and joined the Federation Regiment where he remained until 1967, when he opted out for a career in business.

“My rank was that of captain when I resigned. They offered me the rank of major but I refused. My father was very disappointed as he wanted me to continue serving the nation.

“He disapproved of my venturing into business as he believed business and politics should not mix.” Since he was the prime minister, he did not want me in business at all. He believed the mixing of politics and business would lead to abuse. He believed one should never enter politics to make money.” This principle was something Tunku lived and died by, said his son. Tunku was a rich man when he entered politics, owning rubber estates and shop houses in Penang and Alor Star, most of which he sold to finance Umno and to win independence.”

After being in politics for 15 years, my father ended up much poorer than when he entered politics.”I am very proud of my father as a leader, but as a father, he never had time for me and my sister, Tunku Khadijah.”

Tunku Nerang’s mother, Mariam Chong, was Tunku Abdul Rahman’s first wife. She died of typhoid and malaria a month after he was born in Kuala Nerang in 1933.

“The Kuala Nerang people’s dialect was such that they would look at the full moon when it was bright and say, ‘amat nerang’.

“So my father decided to name me Tunku Amat Nerang. He said I was supposed to be very bright.” But Tunku Nerang was not fond of that name as the Chinese at that time would call their drivers, Amat. “So when I was 12, I changed my name to Tunku Ahmad Nerang in my identification card.”

Tunku Nerang used to drive his father around while he was campaigning for the federal elections. He recalls an incident in 1953, when after a long and tiring day of campaigning, a hungry Tunku and Tunku Nerang returned home past midnight to find nothing in the house to eat. I searched the kitchen and all I could find was one egg. I boiled it and then I went to my father’s room and knocked on the door. He opened it and asked me what had happened.

“I told him I had searched the kitchen and found one egg which I had boiled. I told him I had cut it in half and that he could have one half. Tears rolled down his face and he patted my head and told me I could have the whole egg,” he said. Tunku Nerang’s wife, Datin Liliana Nerang, described the Tunku as special in many ways.

“My father-in-law had a way about him. When he talked to you, he would make you feel very special. We would chat about everything, from football to current affairs,” said the retired lawyer.

Added her husband: “This year we are celebrating 50 years of independence. I hope and pray that all the races in Malaysia will live together in peace and harmony, something which my father really cherished and believed in all his life.”

Merdeka stamps galore

In less than 2 weeks we will be celebration the 50th Anniversary of our nation’s birthday. Around this time, there are many articles relating to this event being published in the local media. One of them is on the Malaysian stamps issued pertaining to Merdeka and The Star today has an article about this exhibition at the Penang Museum.

Just wondering why a similar exhibition is not held in Kuala Lumpur. After all, this is the nation’s capital and the bulk of the collectors are based here. Over to you, Pos Malaysia.

Merdeka stamps galore

PENANG: An array of first-day covers and stamps released to commemorate Merdeka on Aug 31, 1957 are being displayed at the Penang Museum.

The historic stamps and covers, some from private collections, will be exhibited for a month on the first floor of the double-storey museum in conjunction with the 50th Merdeka Anniversary Philatelic Exhibition 2007.

Engrossed: Visitors John van Langeveld and his daughter Linda admiring some of the Merdeka collections at the museum yesterday.

“Although the covers and stamps are not rare collections, we felt that the exhibition is meaningful because most of the younger generation did not have the opportunity to see the commemorative stamps released 50 years ago,” said one of the exhibitors, Lim Ken Beng, who has 30 official Merdeka Day covers and 50 unofficial covers.

Two of his framed official Merdeka Day covers are displayed at the museum.

“The most important collection is the Merdeka Day cover with official cover bearing the government emblem,” said Lim, an engineering manager who started collecting stamps about 30 years ago.

The exhibition is jointly organised by the Penang Museum and Penang Philatelic Society, and sponsored by Pos Malaysia Bhd.

The society’s oldest active member Abdul Salaam Mohd Anver said the 10-cent Malaya stamp bearing the portrait of Tunku Abdul Rahman was now worth RM6.

“The original cover could cost about RM100 each,” he said.

Moving House

Spotted this moving item in the NST today:
This is gotong-royong at its best!

Moving House

Moving home: When most of us move house, we pack our furniture and household items and hire a lorry to take them to the new location. But farmer Abu Hasan Ahmad was so attached to his home, he decided to take the whole house with him when he had to move. “We have lived at the old site for more than 20 years, but now we want to be closer to my mother-in-law to take care of her.” The 56- year-old padi farmer said several village elders got about 150 villagers to help with the “big move“. Besides helping to carry the house half-a-kilometre to the new site, the villagers also took part in a gotong-royong to clear the land at the new location. It took over an hour to move the house. — NST picture by Rahmat Othman

Rare Solar halo over Langkawi

Spotted this interesting report about a rare natural phenomenon in the NST today.

LANGKAWI, MON:

The sudden appearance of a solar halo (also known as the parhelic circle) above the skies of Langkawi today caught the attention of participants at the Langkawi International Dialogue (LID) as well as members of the media.

Solar Halo

Dozens of photographers covering LID hurriedly snapped away at the halo encircling the sun at about 2.40 pm, before it disappeared about 20 minutes later.

The photographers were not the only ones captivated by the phenomenon.
Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, who is here attending LID, was also among the crowd of onlookers admiring the rare sight.

This phenomenon similar to a rainbow, except it is formed by the refraction of sunlight through ice crystals, instead of raindrops suspended in the air. The ice crystals are from cirrus clouds and have to be of the type with a large radius for the phenomenon to take place.

There must also be no wind and the sun has to be at an altitude of less than 34 degrees for the halo to to occur.

Solar Halo

Cowboy Town, A Famosa, Malacca

Spent last weekend at A Famosa, a well known resort in Malacca, courtesy of my employer.

This resort has 4 Theme Parks namely Cowboy Town, Outdoor Theme Park, Water World and Animal World. Besides the theme parks, there are other recreational facilities available like, Fishing, Archery, Go Kart, Horse Riding, Paintball War Games and Microlight Flying.

We had dinner in Cowboy Town and were greeted at the entrance by a company of dancing cowboys and cowgirls. -)

Dancing Cowboys and Cowgirls

Dinner was of course a buffet affair and after dinner showtime!

The show started off with a fiery hot Red Indian Show.

Red Indian Show

Red Indian Show 2

This was followed by an Animal Parade and parade of dancers, lighted “floats” and other costumed characters.

During the parade some of the staff were offering the audience the opportunity of having their pictures taken with an albino python, a tiger cub and a parrot. The service is free, if you do not want the photograph. -) If you want to keep the photo as a momento of your visit, it will cost you up to RM21 for the photo (It comes together with a preprinted folder).

Albino Snake

Street Dancers

The show of course ended with a bang, a couple of minutes worth of fireworks display! -)

More info : www.afamosa.com

SHOCKING PUNISHMENT over a sanitary pad

Spotted this item in NST today.

I think the warden went overboard and should be boarded out.

This form of extreme punishment should no longer be tolerated in a modern society.

The  students  enduring their punishment in the muddy pond. — Picture courtesy of Borneo Post

The students enduring their punishment in the muddy pond. — Picture courtesy of Borneo Post

KUCHING: Two hundred schoolgirls of a boarding school were forced to squat, neck-deep, in a murky pond after a used sanitary pad was found in a toilet bowl.

The girls were in the pond for an hour during heavy rain while the warden, who meted out the punishment, stood under an umbrella to supervise the punishment.

The punishment, which was described as “improper”, is being investigated by the Education Ministry.

The shocking event at SMK Bawang Assan was captured on camera by the school’s parent-teacher association chairman Jimmy Kiu at 5pm on Wednesday.

Seeing Kiu taking photographs, the warden ordered the girls out of the pond.

By then, several of them complained of itchiness and rashes. Several were also reportedly ill after the incident.

Kiu claimed none of the school officials came to check the situation despite these complaints.

Most of the 500 students in Form One to Five are from the interior areas of Sungei Pasin, Batang Lassa, Nanga Singat, Sungei Lengang, Sungei Belangan and Tanjung Bekakap.

The students from the co-ed school go home on weekends.

“This kind of punishment is inhumane. And it is all over a used sanitary pad in a toilet bowl,” Kiu said.

“The water in the pond is dirty as waste from the canteen flows straight into it.”

A school official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the warden decided to punish all the female students after no one owned up to leaving the used pad in the toilet bowl.

“I think the warden was angry as it is expensive to fix a clogged toilet,” Kiu said.

Sarawak Teachers’ Union president William Ghani Bina expressed his uneasiness with the disciplinary measure applied by the warden.

“The warden’s intentions may have been good, but she should have followed the guidelines on disciplining students,” William said.

“Teachers are humans, too. This warden may have gone overboard in instilling discipline.”

William did not, however, put all the blame on the warden.

He said the student concerned should also take responsibility.

“This incident would not have occurred if school regulations were followed. There are proper bins to dispose of used sanitary pads.”

Sibu deputy police chief Superintendent Zamani Hamdan said they had yet to receive any report over the incident.

Malaysian Stamps getting more popular

A few days back, I went to the GPO here in Kuala Lumpur to purchase some Insects Series III Miniature Sheets. To my surprise and consternation, I was informed that the item has been sold out! What! I thought, you got to be kidding! The issue was only a few days old (Issue Date: 7th July 2007) and it cost RM5 a piece. Most people would not want to buy too many of this item as it was relatively an expensive item.

Anyway, the counter staff informed me that the item was indeed out of stock. Other recent items that are also out of stock are the Booklet and Miniature Sheets of Visit Malaysia Year 2007 issued on 19th March 2007.

The 3 items are show below:

To all the collectors who are lucky enough to own the items before they were sold out, congratulations. Hope you cherish these beautiful items.

Insects Series III Miniature Sheet

Visit Malaysia Year 2007 MIniature Sheet

Visit Malaysia Year 2007 Booklet