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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Midnight Express - The Tunku in Sibu

This piece is written just because we people in Sibu were very excited about the arrival of the K.D. Hang Tuah. Perhaps it was because we had never seen Tunku Abdual Rahman in person. But in fact very few people saw him at that time. As students then we did try to have a look at the wharf from our bicycles. But nothing was seen.


Nevertheless, a remarkable piece of Malaysian history occurred in Sibu in July 1966.

The Tunku and his entourage travelled on the flagship of the Royal Malaysian navy, K.D. Hang Tuah. His entourage comprised Khaw Kai Boh , Senu Abdul Rahman , Tan Sri V.T. Sambanthan , and Sarawak's Abdul Rahman Yakub . One note with interest that at that time, even those who were in the Federal Cabinet were not titled except Tan Sri S.

The Hang Tuah anchored at Sibu on July 1 1966.

According to the papers,the relationship between the East malaysian states and Federal government was very fragile at that time. And perhaps this group from KL thought that their presence and a ship as big as Hang Tuah could convince the locals of their might and stature.

The entourage left by motor launch for Kapit where a regatta and mass rally were to be held to demonstrate support for the new Sarawak State Government.

Thomas Kana, a parliamentarian then, was the chief spokesman in the four hour long journey to Kapit.

This was the time when Kalong Ningkan the first Chief Minister of Sarawak became very unpopular with the Federal Government. His personality, his issues, his attitudes were deemed unwelcomed by the West Malaysians and hence a campaign was staged for his ouster. It was very swiftly done.

High drama unfolded in the next few weeks and eventually saw the appointment of a new Chief Minister who was timid, not highly educated, and rather simplistic in his approach to politics. Nevertheless Syed Kechik drafted daily statements o Tawi Sli's behalf for release to the press and together with the state Director of Information composed speeches to be read by tawi Sli on the evening radio broadcasts-all dealing with the explanation of actions taken to dismiss Ningkan, the policy of the federal govt to make Malay the national language, the land issue and larger matters of development. The public and the opposition were surprised by the strength and resolve inherent in Tawi Sli's tough statements and speeches, as was Tawi Sli himself.

Sarawak would never be the same agin after this.

3 memories:

AlisonBuda said...

The Federal govt (West Malaysians) has not treated the local East Malaysian as equal. I dislike their way of handling the Stephen Kalong Ningkan case. He might be simple but he is still Sarawak's first CM.

AlisonBuda said...

The Federal govt (West Malaysians) has not treated the local East Malaysians as equal. I dislike their way of handling the Stephen Kalong Ningkan case. He might be simple but he is still Sarawak's first CM.

sarawakiana said...

Yes,history has dealt a strange hand to Sarawak. And each day, we shall see history in the making.

Like in a marriage, for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, the states are married to each other.....

And May God bless us all.

 

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