Therefore, I decided to posted a piece of history of our nation instead. I know it is wrong and illegal to republish a copyright material without its owner's permission but I figure this won't jeopardize the sell because it's not like I'm planning to republish the whole book.
So for you guys who haven't bought Tun Mahathir's memoirs 'a Doctor in a House', here's the first chapter of it.
A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE - CHAPTER 1
I became the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia on 16 July 1981. Like other UMNO leaders before me, I had dreamt about becoming a member of the Cabinet, even Prime Minister. But I did not believe it would really happen. Until the moment I stood before the King waiting to be sworn in, I remained a highly unlikely candidate to attain the highest office in the country.
The odds had always been stacked heavily against me. I did not come from the Malay ruling elite. Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah, the nation's first Prime Minister, was a prince, the son of the Sultan of the state of Kedah. He was also a former Deputy Public Prosecutor and State Superintendent of Education. The Tunku, as he was warmly referred to by all strata of society, was in the Kedah Civil Service and was used to heading government departments. His elevation to Prime Ministership did not go against the social conventions of that time.
Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, the second Prime Minister, came from a distinguished family of administrators. His father was a senior civil servant in the Pahang state government and Tun Razak himself was Pahang State Secretary before he became involved in politics. After the Federation of Malaya was established in 1948, he became the Menteri Besar, or Chief Minister, of his state. Holding the number two position in UMNO, he became Deputy Prime Minister and was the natural successor to the Tunku.
As with Tun Razak in Pahang, my predecessor Tun Hussein Onn belonged to the elite of Johor3 society and, like all his family, was close to the Johor palace. His father and grandfather had both served as Menteri Besar of Johor. With them, heading government administration was a family tradition.
I, on the other hand, was a commoner, the son of a former schoolteacher who was drawing a monthly pension of RM90 at the time I became involved in politics. Malays were then still feudalistic and not at all used to commoners rising above their station. But I broke the mould and paved the way for them to head the Government of Malaysia. Today, an ordinary person who becomes Prime Minister is given the same respect as anyone from the ruling classes.
The first three Prime Ministers were also all lawyers trained in London. I was a medical doctor from the University of Malaya in Singapore. That alone put me at a disadvantage. Medicine was not considered the best qualification for a Prime Minister. Lawyers were deemed fit for the office because of the legislative functions involved in governance. Doctors, it was held, had no training in the intricacies of law and administration.
I was also a rebel and a troublemaker. I had no protector. I was expelled from UMNO in 1969 for daring to criticise the Tunku. This alone should have ended my political career. There was a precedent for this. Aziz Ishak, the former Agriculture Minister in the Tunku's first Cabinet, had promoted setting up a fertiliser factory to help local farmers who relied on a foreign producer for their supply. The move displeased the Tunku, who did not want to upset the foreign company, and he dropped Aziz from the Cabinet. He was eventually expelled from UMNO and was never allowed to rejoin.4
I was more fortunate. I was eventually reinstated but my troublesome record should have precluded me from holding senior posts in the party or Government. I had no family ties with the top brass and under normal circumstances would not have gone far. My political salvation came from Tun Razak, who overlooked my behaviour with the Tunku and smoothed my way up by making me a full Minister after I won a seat in the 1974 General Election.
Until recently, political convention here dictated that one was first made Parliamentary Secretary and then Deputy Minister before being elevated to full Ministerial-rank. I bypassed these two apprenticeship stages.
Understandably, quite a few in UMNO who were far more senior than I did not take kindly to my leapfrogging. But for Tun Razak, I would have had very little chance of reaching the top. When he died in 1976, my only protector was gone.
Even when he was still alive I had to step carefully. One friend, Datuk Harun Idris, the Menteri Besar of Selangor5 who had helped bring me back into UMNO after my expulsion, believed that I had undermined his chances of a vice-presidency in the 1975 UMNO elections. I ran in that same race and narrowly defeated him. Harun and his children never quite forgave me, but I never forgot what he did for me. He was later charged in court and found guilty of corruption, but he was released from prison during my time as Prime Minister.^6 In 1986, Harun and his son aided Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, then an UMNO Vice-President, when the latter challenged my presidency of the party in that year's UMNO elections.
Even an endorsement from the top man did not secure the support of senior party members. When Tun Hussein made me Deputy Prime Minister in 1976, I faced continuing opposition from powerful party members such as the ageing UMNO Youth leader Tan Sri Syed Jaafar Hassan Albar, who died of a heart attack while campaigning in Johor. And soon after my appointment as Deputy Prime Minister, two of my close friends were arrested for allegedly being pro-communist.
Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad and Abdullah Majid were Deputy Ministers in Tun Hussein's administration. Abdullah Ahmad had been Tun Razak's political secretary and was a family friend. He was also one of my strongest supporters. As if that was not enough, three days before I was to be sworn in as Prime Minister, my political secretary, Siddiq Ghouse, was arrested for alleged espionage activities. The then Home Minister Tun Ghazali Shafie said that Siddiq was a spy for the Soviet Union's KGB.
So there I was, the non-pedigreed Deputy Prime Minister whose political secretary was a "spy" and whose friends were "communist sympathizers". Any further rise in the party seemed most unlikely.
Perhaps I was not alone in not having it easy. Tun Hussein also came under attack when Tun Razak appointed him Deputy Prime Minister. Some leaders of the party regarded him as an outsider because he had rejoined UMNO only in 1964, 17 years after he and his father, UMNO founder Dato' Onn Jaafar, had quit the party to set up the Independence of Malaya Party. It was Tun Razak who brought Tun Hussein back into the party - the two men had married sisters and so were related. Tun Hussein became Minister of Education and his elevation was also considered rapid. Later, his choice of me as Deputy Prime Minister would be seen as illadvised, partly because of my connections with so-called communists. But Tun Hussein was a straight arrow who had served with British forces. No one could believe he, and by extension I, could have anything to do with communism. Besides, Tun Hussein readily detained those suspected of having leftist leanings despite their standing in UMNO and closeness to Tun Razak.
I have often wondered why he chose me to be his deputy. He knew very little about me personally. Perhaps it was because he knew even less about Tun Ghafar Baba, who also ran in the same UMNO race and won the highest number of votes of the three vice-presidential posts. About Tun Hussein's attitude towards the second Vice-President, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, I can only speculate. Perhaps an incident that took place when Tun Hussein was Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister left its mark. Tengku Razaleigh, who was then head of PETRONAS, the national oil company, and Pernas, the national trading corporation (now Tradewinds Corporation), had demanded an allocation of RM100 million for each of the two companies and that he report directly only to Tun Razak, bypassing Tun Hussein as head of the Treasury. Perhaps Tun Hussein had not forgotten about this. I believe he did not have much of a choice when picking his deputy, and perhaps Tun Razak's views still exerted some influence. As he once told me, Tun Razak advised him to call me if he ever needed help.
Fate certainly played an important part in my political ascension. Whealth prevented Tun Hussein from being Prime Minister for long, and he stepped down in July 1981.
My rise was considered rapid but I still took 18 years to become a Member of Parliament, and 28 years to become a Minister. Money politics was unknown in those early days and I did not use cash to get to where I was. Even when money was allegedly used in campaigns against me, I still managed to win without any bribery, albeit with a narrow margin. I am thankfull for the democracy practised in UMNO, which goes against the feudal nature of the Malays I had dared to challenge the Tunku in 1969 because I felt I had grassroots support. Even though I was expelled I was able to rejoin UMNO because of this support
Yet, as Deputy Prime Minister, I was a man chosen by a leader who did not have strong support in the party. I was obviously not going to have an easy time and Tun Hussein could not provide much protection for me. Tun Hussein had depended on Tun Razak for support when he was chosen as Deputy Prime Minister. When Tun Razak died, Tub Hussein had no great grassroots base to speak of. The arrest and detention of the so-called communist sympathisers high in the party seemed to suggest that his office was influenced by communists. His acceding to pressures to effect those arrests is probably a good measure of his own weak political situation. His administration was haunted by the communist bogey that his detractors unleashed in the hope that he would be ousted or would step down early, prompting a leadership struggle in UMNO.
Unable to curb efforts to undermine him in UMNO, Tun Hussein also faced challenges from the Chinese. Under the New Economic Policy (NEP),7 the Industrial Coordination Act of 1975 required that companies allocate 30 per cent of their shares to the Bumiputera. As most Chinese companies at that time were family-owned, they were naturally averse to having the Bumiputera, who were total strangers, involved at any level, even as directors. But the ICA was inflexible and Chinese businessmen agitated against the Government. There were also demands for a Chinese university. hen Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, whom Tun Razak named his Deputy Prime Minister, died, Tun Hussein became Deputy Prime Minister. Not long after, Tun Razak died and Tun Hussein became Prime Minister.
To fulfill the NEP requirement, the quota for places for the Bumiputera in government universities was increased. This kept many qualified Chinese and Indian students from enrolling in these institutions. For the rich, this posed no problem as they could afford to study at foreign universities. But opportunities for a good education for the poor non-Malays were much reduced by the quota system.
In those days there were no private universities or non-university tertiary institutions. Many Chinese completed secondary schooling in their mother tongue, so the demand for a Chinese university grew increasingly strident. Led by the Chinese educationist group Dong Jiao Zong, the community united in agitation. Both Tun Hussein and I were in a dilemma. I was then Minister of Education and the issue landed on my desk. If we acceded to the demands of the Chinese, we would incur the displeasure of our Malay supporters. But if we refused them, we would weaken the MCA and Gerakan, UMNO's Chinese partner parties in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.
Unlike the Malays, most Chinese voted on the basis of issues rather than political affiliations. On the Chinese university issue, I knew from experience that many MCA and Gerakan supporters would vote for the Opposition party DAP. Loyalty to their race was more powerful than party loyalties. In the 1969 General Election, for example, Chinese voters in my constituency voted for the Malay Islamist party PAS simply to ensure that as a so-called Malay "ultra", an alleged ethnic extremist, I would not win. This choice illustrates the sometimes decisive role of ethnic minority voters in Malaysia, which one ignores only at obeys peril.
In these volatile circumstances some Malay Muslim extremists also presented problems. On 26 May 1979 a small group of them had desecrated Hindu temples prompting one temple in Selangor to post armed guards. When some Malay troublemakers came, they were attacked and four were killed. This provoked a powerfiu1 reaction among the Malays, and ant~Indian feelings remained strong even after the Government arrested and tried those responsible. Worryingly, and a sign of future developments, the young Malays who provoked the Indian response were not poor villagers resentful at being shut out from all opportunities but young students who had been educated overseas.
On 16 October 1980, in Batu Pahat in Johor, another group of deviant Malay Muslims attacked a police station. They were repulsed and eight of them were killed, yet this incident too marked the start of the growing problem of deviant teachings among Muslims in Malaysia. A similar but more serious challenge would come in late 1985, when a man who called himself Ibrahim Libya and his heretical followers staged an uprising in Memali, Kedah.
By far the most difficult problem Tun Hussein faced on taking over as Prime Minister was the corruption case involving Harun Idris. The Selangor Menteri Besar was also head of UMNO's youth wing and was very popular with the more outspoken Malays. Lacking strong party support and having powerful enemies among UMNO's old guard, Tun Hussein should have been careful in dealing with Harun. But he went ahead with the case. UMNO Youth strongly condemned him. I had no choice but to support him, even though I knew that if he went down, I might well go down with him.
Yet, Tun Hussein was a man of strong convictions. He ignored UMNO Youth and was even prepared to use the police when Harun refused to surrender. Agitation against Tun Hussein continued but the Barisan Nasional victory in the 1978 General Election—greatly aided by the split In PAS, which had left the coalition helped to secure his position. Flush with this victory, Hussein decided to hold UMNO elections to confirm his presidency of the party. He was challenged by an UMNO member Haji Sulaiman Palestine, a colourful character who, having lived in Palestine for some time in his younger years (hence his nickname), could surprisingly speak Hebrew. The populist Sulaiman was a very powerful orator, but Tun Hussein won comfortably. I was not challenged and was confirmed as Deputy President. The threat against Tun Hussein and me receded.
My own relationship with Tun Hussein, however was sometimes strained. He rejected a number of my suggestions and was not pleased that I had ventured to offer them. Increasingly frustrated, I eventually stopped putting forward ideas. I did not want to annoy him and jeopardize my chances of becoming Prime Minister. Then, in 1981, Tun Hussein suddenly informed the Cabinet that he was going to the United Kingdom for treatment for his heart condition. We knew he was not very well but we did not think it was so serious as to require heart surgery — in those days regarded as a far more risky operation than today. The operation itself was successful, but Tun Hussein remained unwell when he returned home. He had to slow down and I offered to take on his extra work. One day in mid-1981, after a meeting at his residence, he asked me to stay behind. He told me that he could not carry on and wanted to step down. I again offered to do his work for him while he rested. But he was adamant and said that his mind was made up. I was to take over from him.
I kept this information to myself and waited for Tun Hussein to make the announcement himself, which he did to his own Johor Baru UMNO division on 15 May 1981. The thousand members attending the annual meeting were shocked when he told them he would not be seeking reelection as party President and would step down as Prime Minister. Shortly after that, he informed the Cabinet and made a public announcement that he intended to resign as Prime Minister. The party was to hold its elections at the Annual General Assembly on 28 June that year. I accepted the nomination for presidency of the party only after it was clear that Tun Hussein would not be contesting.
As no other candidate emerged, I would become President uncontested on 28 June, the day Tun Hussein would officially step down. The focus of interest was upon the contest for the Deputy President's post. There were two candidates, Tengku Razaleigh and Tun Musa Hitam, both of whom were Vice-Presidents.
The Annual General Assembly was held at the then Hilton Hotel's Nirwana Ballroom as the UMNO buildings was not yet ready. The hall was packed with delegates, observers and guests. After the usual preliminaries, Tun Hussein stepped up to the rostrum and made a brief speech which, according to UMNO practice, was also the opening speech of the assembly. To the hushed crowd he announced that after consulting with me he had decided to step down as Prime Minister on 16 July. This meant that for 17 days the Prime Minister would not be the President of UMNO or vice-versa. Though this broke with tradition, it was not a matter of any consequence and no one remarked on it. All eyes were on Tun Hussein as he stepped down from the rostrum at the end of his speech. There was loud applause, and he shook hands with the members of the Supreme Council before returning to his seat.
The meeting was adjourned and the Supreme Council members all retired to the Rajah Room for a break and coffee. Tun Hussein did not stay long. UMNO members gathered around him as he made his way to the hotel's lower entrance, from where the Supreme Council saw him off. After that, party members crowded around me to congratulate me on my uncontested election as President of UMNO. It was good for the ego even though I was not sure how many of them were sincere.
When the meeting resumed, voting for the Deputy President, Vice Presidents and other posts began. In UMNO, whoever became Deputy President also became the Deputy Prime Minister. So naturally, the contest between Tengku Razaleigh and Tun Musa drew the most attention. I resolved to work with whoever won. I could not afford to back either because if my candidate lost, I would be left with an antagonistic deputy. Staying impartial was very important to me as I wanted to be close to my deputy. I did not enjoy this rapport with Tun Hussein and I felt that this was why some of my ideas were rejected. Yet my careful neutrality ultimately did not secure my deputy's lasting support. Within five years, Tengku Razaleigh and Tun Musa would unite against me to contest the UMNO leadership.
Although Harun was still in jail when Tun Hussein ended his premiership, he had been nominated for Vice-President at that assembly. Tun Hussein did not make an issue of it. Besides, there was nothing in the party constitution to stop the nomination. According to the regulations, however, Harun would not be able to take an active post in politics for five years after his release from jail. The UMNO Youth made it clear that they wanted Harun to get a full pardon from the King. I was not sure if even a full pardon would allow his immediate return to active politics, so this UMNO election was critical. It would both determine who my deputy would be and it would indicate the feelings of UMNO members regarding the jailing of Harun. I knew Tun Hussein's feelings about the issue. He had literally thrown the files on Harun's case at me when I had earlier tried to discuss the political implications of continuing legal proceedings against Harun, and I now assumed that he would be offended if I did anything for Harun. On the other hand, I could not risk ignoring the feelings of members and becoming unpopular so soon after becoming President of the party.
There was a great deal of excitement as the votes were being counted. At the usual Supreme Council meeting the night before the General Assembly, all candidates had pledged that, win or lose, they would continue to serve UMNO and the Government. I felt reasonably assured that the party would not be split between the supporters of Tengku Razaleigh and Tun Musa. Tuft Musa won with a clear majority with 722 votes against Tengku Razaleigh's 517. There was loud but brief cheering when the results were announced. The delegates had thankfully heeded my appeal not to display their feelings too much over the result.
The next results to be announced were those of the Vice-Presidents. I waited with bated breath over the number of votes Harun would get. There were seven candidates, of whom only Tun Ghafar was an incumbent The other two, Tengku Razaleigh and Musa Hitam, were not contesting. They had gone for broke, contesting only the Deputy President's post and nothing else. Other than Tun Ghafar and Harun, those standing included Tengku Tan Sri Ahmad Rithaudeen Tengku Ismail, Tun Ghazalie Shafie, Tan Sri Senu Abdul Rahman, and Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim. As expected, Tun Ghafar came in first with 869 votes. Then Harun garnered 757 votes to come in second. Tengku Ahmad Rithaudeen came in third with 711 votes.
My worst fears were confirmed. The outcome posed two major problems for me as I began my stint as President of UMNO and Prime Minister. First, there was the possible split in the party between Tun Musa and Razaleigh's supporters and, second, we now had a Vice-President in jail.
On 15 July Tun Hussein chaired his last Cabinet meeting. The following day he submitted his official resignation letter to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, then Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang. At 11 am the same morning, a short ceremony was held In the palace's Dewan Istiadat or Ceremonial Hall. All the Ministers were present, together with the Inspector-General of Police, the Chief of the Armed Forces and the Attorney-General. Toh Puan Suhaila Mohd Noah, Tun Hussein's wife, and my wife, Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, were also there. At another table sat the Acting Lord President of the Supreme Court, Tan Sri Raja Azlan Shah (who later became the Sultan of Perak) and the Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Hashim Aman.
Tun Hussein walked in with me behind him. We were dressed in dark lounge suits and songkok as the ruling requiring Malay Ministers to wear black baju Melayu was not yet in force. Then His Majesty the Yang diPertuan Agong walked in and sat on the throne flanked by four aides-decamp drawn from the Police and the Armed Forces Upon the invitation of the Court Chamberlain I walked up lo the Agony who handed me the official document for oath-taking. After reciting the oaths, one being the oath of office and the other to guard official secrets, I signed them and they were countersigned by the Acting Lord President
Inscribing those signatures represented a sharp demarcation between my old life and my new one. During my tenure, I would often wonder how an ordinary person like me had risen to this office. Looking back, it was a most unlikely path for a medical doctor, let alone a commoner. Yet I became the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia.