The Fall of Tunku’s Anglophile Administration

I this post I tell a little bit about the end of Tunku Abdul Rahman’s prime ministership. In the interest of my sanity and so that I can sleep well at nights, I have to conjure the caveat.

During the suspension of parliamentary rule i.e. Mageran (Majlis Gerakan Negara) and for some time after that, there were rumors that Malaysia was ripe for a military coup ‘to solve “the Chinese problem” decisively*. This coup possibility was based on the fact that the military and other security forces in Malaysia were largely staffed by Malays.

One of the many assumptions underlying the coup possibility was that in these state apparatus, the Malays (or the officers than run these state apparatus) are nationalistic; and they will not be hesitant to fill in the vacuum of the now “discredited” Tunku administration. By “discredited” I mean is by the inability of Tunku Abdul Rahman to uplift the lot of the Malays; and more importantly by the electoral gains of the DAP in the 1969 elections, which at that time were shouting LKY’s (Lee Kuan Yew) Malaysia for Malaysians slogan which is anathema to the Malays.

On top of that, military coups were fashionable in Southeast Asia during those days. Burma had one in 1962, South Vietnam had one in 1963, Indonesia had one in 1965 and Thailand and Cambodia had one each in 1971.

One of the theories* of military coup is that the military will always fill in the gap left by ineffectuate civilian governments. In the aftermath of May the 13th 1969, the Anglophile Tunku government fit into this category of weak civilian governments

Of course, parliamentary rule was restored in 1971 and no coup ever happened. But Malaysia experienced one very important change – the formulation and implementation of the New Economic Policy or the NEP.


*Read this book – Soldiers and Politics in Southeast Asia, by J. Stephen Hoadley (1975)

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