Tunku Abdul Rahman – Road to indpendence

In 1954 Abdul Rahman led a delegation to London to seek independence for Malaya, but the trip proved to be unfruitful. The British were reluctant to grant independence unless there was evidence that the different races in Malaya were able to work together and cooperate in a new and independent country.

Race relations was the cause of Onn Jaafar stepping down. He wanted UMNO to be open to the Chinese and Indians but UMNO members were not ready to accept this. His successor, Abdul Rahman saw a way around this by forming a political alliance with the Malayan Chinese Association called the Alliance Party. The coalition proved to be popular among the people. The Alliance was later joined by the Malayan Indian Congress (MIC) in 1955, representing the Indian community.

In the same year, the first federal election was held, and the Alliance Party (Perikatan) won fifty-one out of the fifty-two seats contested. Abdul Rahman was selected as Malaya’s first Chief Minister.

Later in 1955 Abdul Rahman made another trip to London to negotiate Malayan independence, and 31 August 1957 was decided as the datefor independence. When the British flag was lowered in Kuala Lumpur on indpendence day, Abdul Rahman led the crowd in announcing “Merdeka!” (independence). Photographs of Abdul Rahman raising his hand, and recording of his emotional but determined voice leading the cheers, have become familiar icons of Malaysian independence.


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