KUALA LUMPUR: Tunku Abdul Rahman – the country's first Prime Minister – always expressed genuine love for the people and wanted peace and unity among them more than anything else, JUST president Dr Chandra Muzaffar said.
Dr Chandra said Tunku had a demanding task in keeping peace and unity in a multiracial country that had just achieved independence from the British.
“Tunku was a simple man who wanted everyone to be happy,” he told a forum held as part of the Tunku Centennial Remembrance Night activities organised by DAP at Crystal Crown Hotel last night.
Panel members at the forum included DAP chairman Lim Kit Siang, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Datuk Param Cumaraswamy, Prof Dr Syed Hussein Alatas, The News Straits Times associate editor Rehman Rashid and former Utusan editor Said Azahari.
He also said that while many criticised Tunku for the split of Singapore from Malaysia in 1965, he did it to maintain peace.
In his speech, Cumaraswamy remembered Tunku as a man who had a jovial and lovable personality.
“In delivering his speech after being called to the bar, he broke the tradition of maintaining the 'serious nature' of the event by commenting on his being the oldest lawyer in his class,” he said.
He added that Tunku was known, even to the Opposition, as a man of high integrity.
Lim, in his speech, called on the Government to commemorate Tunku's 100th birthday by instituting the Tunku Prize as a prestigious annual international award.
“It should be comparable to the Nobel Prize for distinguished achievements in various fields of human endeavour in the 21st century,” he said.
He added that Tunku's birthday should be properly commemorated by the nation to remember his contributions.