The Star Malaysia
Book on Tunku’s thoughts launched
‘Dialog’ comprises his ‘Timeless Thinking’ and diverse responses to them
KUALA LUMPUR: At age 87, wheelchair-bound former prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj ignored doctor’s orders, to attend the laying of the Sarawak Warriors Monument’s foundation stone in Kuching.
Then, in the midst of a downpour there, the Tunku who was not scheduled to address the crowd, insisted on giving a speech, in which he called on Malaysians to unite and be loyal to the country.
Tears ran down his cheeks during the address and he concluded it by raising his arm and shouting “Merdeka” three times.
As he boarded a plane to return, he remarked, “Now I can leave this world.”
He died six days later.
This is one of the anecdotes recorded in a new anthology, Dialog: Thoughts On Tunku’s Timeless Thinking.
Aimed at fostering new conversations among Malaysians, Dialog comprises his sayings and the fresh responses to them from a diverse range of local personalities.
Among them are former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam; MP and senior politician Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah; comedian Harith Iskander; Tun Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, wife of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad; former national foot- ballers Datuk Soh Chin Aun and Datuk Santokh Singh; rapper Altimet; and the cast of OlaBola, a 2016 Malaysian football film.
This book is the first of its kind because it puts together 23 essays from contributors between age five and 90, bundled with colourful illustrations by art students from The One Academy.
In the book, football legend Datuk Peter Velappan recalled how the Tunku once gave the shirt off his back and money from his wallet to a beggar.
“He never wanted to see anybody poor, without food or diseased. He was the best example of humanity,” said Velappan during the book’s launch at Bangsar Village II yesterday.
He also shared the Tunku’s wis- dom in holding the Merdeka Tournament in August 1969 after the May 13 race riot.
“The Football Association of Malaysia decided not to organise the event that year.
“When I went to tell him, he told me to go to the Asian nations in his name and invite them for the tournament,” he said.
During the event, more than 50,000 Malaysians of all races poured into the stadium to support the national team.
“That was the event that brought together all Malaysians,” he said.
Tunku’s granddaughter Datin Sharifah Menyalara Hussein noted how, as a district officer, he spent a lot of his own money to open up Pulau Langkawi.
“His patriotism started way before he was the prime minister,” she said.
A fact known by few, Sharifah said the first line of the national anthem, “Negaraku, tanah tumpahnya darahku” was penned by Tunku himself.
Also in the book is how Tengku Razaleigh had asked Tunku why he did not buy a new car and instead drove around in a jalopy.
The Tunku told him that he did not want to waste public money.
Dialog is an initiative by advertising agency M&C Saatchi Malaysia and the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs.
An exhibition, promotions and special screenings related to the book is going on at Bangsar Village II until May 28.
The 270-page hard-cover retails for RM110 and is available at the exhibition and in major bookstores.