KUALA LUMPUR: Forty years ago, on Jan 14, 1976, Malaysia lost a statesman who played a key role in shaping the country's economic development and national unity.
He was Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, Malaysia's second prime minister who served from 1970 to 1976.
Known as 'Bapa Pembangunan' (Father of Development), Razak was the one who introduced the New Economic Policy, which charted the country's economic direction and had a profound impact on the people, even until today.
Looking back at history, Razak's contributions can be seen even before Malaya's independence was declared when he was among the key individuals, along with Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, who fought for the country's independence from the British.
In 1955, Razak was appointed as Education Minister under the country's first cabinet, which was helmed by Tunku Abdul Rahman, who then became the first Malaysian prime minister.
As the first Education Minister, Razak was instrumental in forming the basic fundamental of the country's education system, that was seen to be essential, to replace the colonial education system.
Through his persistent efforts, the Razak Report was established in 1956. It was aimed at building a united country through education system, using Bahasa Melayu as the national language and the language of instruction.
The Razak Report was later enshrined as the Education Ordinance 1957.
During the May 13, 1969, racial riots, Razak, then the Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, was one of the important individuals who managed to curb the incident from getting worse.
After the government declared a state of emergency following the incident, a caretaker government, the National Operations Council (NOC), was formed and chaired by Razak.
The NOC managed to restore peace, thus forming the National Principles, a philosophy and national ideology established to foster unity among the people.
Taking over as prime minister in 1970, Razak did not take a long time to introduce the New Economic Policy, which had a two-pronged strategy, namely to eradicate poverty and restructure society in order to create harmony and unity in the country.
However, Razak was unable to draw up more plans for the country's development when he died of leukemia on Jan 14, 1976, at the age of 53.
Although Razak served as prime minister in a relatively short period, his contributions and sacrifice to the country could not be measured or replaced, and will be remembered forever.
The Father of Development title was given to him for his contributions in laying the basis for the national development system, especially for rural economy, which has enabled Malaysia to be where it is today.
He has left a strong foundation to ensure the future of this country through various measures and policies as well as emphasising the Bumiputras' involvement in the economic sector.
Agencies such as the Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra), the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda), Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara), the National Corporation, Bumiputra Bank, Tabung Haji, Petronas and the Agricultural Bank have been established as a result of his efforts, along with former leaders who had devoted their time for the sake of the country.
Described as a wise leader who has much foresight, he had left us forever, leaving behind a successor who continues his struggle to defend the religion, race and nation's sovereignty.
Now his legacy has been inherited by his son, the sixth and current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. - Bernama