HIGHLIGHTS

  • Abdul Razak became Deputy President of the United Malays National Organization and a leader of the Alliance Party that won over communal prejudice at the polls in 1955.
  • As Education Minister, he joined in negotiations the next year in London that culminated in Merdeka (independence) on August 31st, 1957.
  • Realizing that independence would prove a mirage without a new way of life for their people, the government created a Ministry of National and Rural Development headed by Tun Abdul Razak to plan and implement bold change.
  • The RMAF Board of Trustees recognizes “a politician administering with quiet, efficient and innovative urgency the reshaping of his society for the benefit of all.”

 CITATION

Molding diverse peoples into a nation and moving them from feudalism to modernity demands leadership possessed of a rare range of skills. Sound plans are needed. Malaysia’s are designed to be translated promptly into more democratic economic well-being. Official management must be more than energetic; it must temper insistent pressure for performance by government and the private sector with astute awareness of what is possible at a given moment. At this level politics becomes both a science and an art. Tun RAZAK is its devoted practitioner.

Pahang State, where ABDUL RAZAK was born in 1922, is in the heartland of traditional Malay culture. Influenced by this setting and the career of his father, a hereditary chief and a senior member of the Malayan Civil Service, the alert young man grew to value the best from East and West. When his studies at Raffles College in Singapore were interrupted by the Japanese attack, RAZAK helped organize Wataniah, the Malayan Resistance Movement.

In England after the war, where he qualified for the Bar with distinction in half the usual time, RAZAK met Tunku Abdul Rahman. Soon fast friends, they and associates in the Malay Society of Great Britain were caught up in the excitement of independence for neighboring lands of the Empire. From the brutal tragedy accompanying partition of India and Pakistan grew the determination to cooperate with Chinese, Indians and others in making theirs a genuinely multiracial nation with room for all faiths.

Back in Malaya, ABDUL RAZAK became Deputy President of the United Malays National Organization and a leader of the Alliance Party that won over communal prejudice at the polls in 1955, thus hurdling the major barrier to independence. The youngest Chief Minister of a Malay State as Mentri Besar of Pahang, RAZAK resigned from the Malayan Civil Service to stand for election and won handily the seat from his home constituency. As Education Minister, he joined in negotiations the next year in London that culminated in Merdeka (independence) on August 31st, 1957. As Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister of independent Malaya, he directed the war against Communist terrorists who rejected an amnesty and plea for peaceful cooperation in building the new nation. Winning villagers away from the insurgents, by July 1960 his government could proclaim the Emergency ended.

Realizing that independence would prove a mirage without a new way of life for their people, the government created a Ministry of National and Rural Development headed by Tun ABDUL RAZAK to plan and implement bold change. Today, some 140,000 acres of virgin land have been opened for 12,000 near-landless families in 60 successful settlement schemes. Meticulously engineered, these new communities are complete with access roads, schools, teachers’ quarters, water supplies, telephones, electricity, health facilities, public halls, shops and houses of worship. Each settler starts anew with eight acres planted to high yielding rubber or oil palm, two acres for orchard, a house, garden plot and a modest subsidy until his first income crop. For these, he repays the government over a period of years.

Irrigation and drainage projects have increased five-fold acreage capable of being double-cropped in rice. On small and large holdings throughout the Federation agriculture is being diversified; production of livestock, fish and forest products has increased rapidly. Locally manufactured goods of many types have begun to replace imports. In urban centers are 13,200 new low-cost housing units. Combating illiteracy and high population growth are well-attended adult education and family planning classes in cities and villages.

To support this vast enterprise, the Government trains intensively an ever increasing cadre of technicians and administrators. From his Operations Room, adapted from his earlier war room and duplicated in every state and district headquarters, Tun RAZAK keeps constant watch on performance by each agency of government assigned responsibility for a share of the work. Scheduled and surprise inspection trips take him 60,000 miles a year. Often working 16 hours a day and living modestly, he expects and gets dedicated service from his subordinates. In his relentless drive to insure that clear plans become early reality, the inhabitants of the old kampongs see their best hope for a new way of life in Malaysia.

In electing His Excellency, Tun ABDUL RAZAK BIN HUSSEIN, to receive the 1967 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, the Board of Trustees recognizes a politician administering with quiet, efficient and innovative urgency the reshaping of his society for the benefit of all.

 RESPONSE

We are happy that the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia receives the 1967 Magsaysay Award today when festivities are taking place all over my country marking 10 years of our freedom.

My brother could not come in person to receive the Award because today’s presentation coincides with the Independence Anniversary of Malaysia. He has, therefore, asked me to come to Manila to receive the Award on his behalf.

The Deputy Prime Minister has asked me to deliver this message to you all. I quote:

“I would like to apologize for not being able to receive the Award personally. However, I feel greatly honored to be chosen the winner of the 1967 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership. I am indeed grateful to the members of the Magsaysay Foundation Board of Trustees for their recognition of whatever little I have done, am doing and will continue to do for the development of Malaysia and the progress of the Malaysian masses. Your recognition will, I have no doubt, spur Malaysians to further and greater progress and achievements.

“It has not been an easy job for my colleagues in the government and for me personally to do whatever we have done for our country. We have achieved progress and political stability as a result of a partnership of efforts. The Malaysian people have responded and our government officers have served well. The politicians have conducted the affairs of the state with great credit to themselves.

“It is difficult anywhere to move people?traditional people as Malaysians are?from feudalism to modernity and to mold a diverse people into a nation; but thanks to the Almighty, through partnership of efforts, cooperation and understanding of all the races, we have managed it in Malaysia. This was because we rely on the good sense, the practicability of our ra’ayat (people) and harness their aspirations for stability, affluence and a desire for a respected place in the international community. We put our trust in universal education, and a major part of

our national and rural development plan is adult education and community development. We also concentrate on giving the people projects that will afford them lasting economic betterment and create employment opportunities for our youth.

“The late President Magsaysay was regarded by Malaysians as easily the most popular Filipino leader of unchallenged honesty and integrity. He brought order and peace to your country, which was then threatened by communists, and restored the confidence of the people in the government and, with their support, wiped out the Hukbalahap terrorists. He knew this is the only way to fight and best communists.

“During the same period he was reforming the Philippines and fighting terrorists, we were ourselves fighting communism, which was later also beaten by the same methods that the late President Magsaysay had used in his fight against the Filipino communists.

“After the war against the terrorists was won in 1960, we found the people weary and longing for progress of which the Emergency had deprived them. So, in 1961, I started the present National and Rural Development Program which has given Malaysia progress, prosperity and political stability. Through the National and Rural Development effort, we have provided for the country a strong framework with many development projects. As a result, Malaysia has a firm base of economic and political stability and a flourishing democracy. Our main job now is to continue our work of nation building and ensure that all our people will live in peace and harmony and the parliamentary system of government thrives and is strengthened.

“We in Malaysia regarded the late President Magsaysay as one of communism’s most ardent and effective foes and a staunch believer in international cooperation. But he did not live long enough to see the growing friendship and cooperation between our two countries and the regional cooperation that is about to take place, or is already taking place though in a very limited way, among the sovereign nations of Southeast Asia through various international agencies. We have just formed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which I sincerely hope will grow into a meaningful association serving Southeast Asia.

“I am very glad to see that the Philippines and Malaysia are on the friendliest of terms. I hope the Philippines, Malaysia and other countries in the region will always get together to resolve common problems and to plan and meet common aspirations and ideals. It is in this direction that my country’s foreign policy and objectives are at the moment giving high priority.

The late President Magsaysay served his country well, and I am very glad to be associated with the name and memory of this great man whose life was spent serving his people. Inspired by his example, my only desire in life is to serve the people and my country and, if I can do the little that I know I am capable of in the best traditions of the late President Magsaysay, I would indeed be a happier man.”

 BIOGRAPHY

ABDUL RAZAK was born on March 11, 1922 at Pulau Keladi, Pekan, in the State of Pahang, Malaya (now Malaysia) to a family of long and distinguished record. His father, Dató Hussein bin Mohamed Taib was a prominent official in the Malayan Civil Service under the British colonial system and held the hereditary Malayan title of Orang Kaya Indera Shahbandar (a Major Chief of Pahang) which had been in the family for generations.

RAZAK attended Malay School at Langgar, Pekan, and Malay College at Kuala Kangsar, Perak. After a year in the Malay Administrative Service he was chosen for further training and in 1940 was awarded a scholarship to Raffles College, Singapore, where he made a name for himself as an able student leader and an outstanding sportsman.

During the Japanese occupation of Malaya, RAZAK helped organize the Malay Resistance Movement (Wataniah) which in 1944 joined British guerrilla Force 136,with RAZAK given the rank of captain. He has since recalled that it was the sight of the British steadily retreating before the Japanese that stirred his sense of nationalism. “I thought,” he said, “that if an Asian power could thus humble the might of British arms, surely my own people could look after themselves. This ultimately led me to enter politics.”

(For the complete biography, please email biographies@rmaf.org.ph)