When the clock struck 12 last night, it signalled the 59th year of good chemistry between the races forged by first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra.
In crying out the word “Merdeka’’ seven times, he brought to the fore the aspirations and dreams of a multi-racial society that had succeeded in obtaining self determination for itself.
Tunku and his team of determined MCA and MIC leaders presented the British with a proposal they could not decline of multi-racial unity, peace and prosperity in the land the colonials had ruled for 93 years.
History records that Malaya was the only colonialised territory around the world that obtained independence through peaceful means.
There was no bloodshed between a colonial power and the people who had been their charges.
Other nations had to sacrifice lives and peace due to upheaval caused by independence fervour that rubbed the colonial masters wrongly.
But in Malaya’s case, Tunku had the right temperament to guide a united force of Malay, Chinese and Indian leaders to negotiate independence with the British who had ruled since 1874 when the Pangkor Treaty was signed.
Walked diplomatic path
The Kedah prince, using statecraft learnt from his father Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah, the 25th ruler of the Kedah Sultanate, walked the diplomatic path with excellence.
Tunku’s mother was Che Manjalara, who was of Thai descent, which later saw him joining the Debsirin School in Bangkok where he learnt the best of the calm and collected Thais which would influence him in later life.
He spoke to the British in terms and nuances they understood using diplomatic language they were used to.
Together with Chinese representatives Tun Tan Cheng Lok, who was English-educated and appealed to English-speaking Chinese, and Tun H.S. Lee, who straddled the Chinese-English divide of the MCA, and the English-educated Tun V.T. Sambanthan of the MIC, he presented a team well-school in the finer ways of the British.
This clearly resonated with the British who wanted to divest themselves of a colonial territory halfway across the world that was drawing on its resources.
Britain distant territories were a drain on its increasingly slender resources with London wanting to hand over its colonial land to the right people who would not create subsequent problems for it.
They were particularly cautious that the communist insurgency that devastated the land from 1948 would not rear its ugly head post-independence.
In this, they had the right man in the adamantly anti-communist Tunku who abhored their philosophy and would have no truck with it.
Tunku, Tan, Lee and Sambanthan proved the best choice in terms of a leadership that could rule fairly and responsibly while looking to the needs of every community that made up the nation.
This was the promise the British required of Malayan leaders they felt could handle independence with good judgement and fair play.
They were not to be disappointed over their multi-racial choice that has led the nation over five decades with a fair and firm hand despite occasional hiccups that were overcome by consensus.
Tunku’s victorious cry of freedom will resonate around the country today to complement the nationalistic fervour that has gripped the nation.
The Jalur Gemilang and the Negaraku will be celebrated by all as the people remember the independence struggle and the fruits it yielded that all enjoy today.
The Malay Mail Online