TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN – Later life

In 1977, having acquired substantial shares in The Star, a Penang-based newspaper, Abdul Rahman became the newspaper’s Chairman. His columns, “Looking Back” and “As I See It”, were critical of the government, and in 1987 Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad banned the newspaper. This led to a split in UMNO, with Abdul Rahman and another former Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn, setting up a new party called UMNO Malaysia, but its registration was quashed by Mahathir Mohamad, who set up his own UMNO Baru (“New UMNO”). Abdul Rahman later supported Semangat 46, a splinter group of UMNO led by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. He campaigned actively for the latter in the General election of 1990, but was already in very poor health. The well-educated, visionary Tunku could barely contain his contempt for Mahathir’s brash nationalism (i.e. Ketuanan Melayu) that went totally against the Rukun Negara and brought about serious racial segregation. He was a pillar of staunch opposition until his death in 1990.


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