Remembering Tun Dr Ismail

Second Deputy Prime Minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman (1971-1973)

This hour thirty nine years ago, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Industry Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman passed away. He was fifty eight.

He had a massive heart attack at home.

At the time, Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein was attending Commonweath Head of Government Meetings in Ottawa, Canada. It came to a shock to the nation, still fragile from the bloody racial riots four years ago. Tun Razak flew back immediately on a special plane provided by the Canadian government to Copenhagen and took commercial there on.

Dr Ismail was an important personality when Parliament was suspended and National Operations Council (NOC) was formed to manage the country. Order was quickly restored and bit by bit, Dr Ismail was one of those who painstakingly detailed the new elements in Malaysia post 13 May.

One of his pivot contribution during the NOC days is to restore  public confidence to the Federal Government. According to former Lord President Tun Mohd Suffian  “It was during the agonising days that his outstanding qualities came to the fore. Perhaps it can be said that more than anybody else the Tun (Dr Ismail) contributed substantially to the restoration of public confidence in the Government’s determination to restore law and order after the 13 May incidents.”

Tunku Abdul Rahman’s team on the London mission to negotiate for Independence in 1956

He was a towering Johor Malay. In the days of UMNO’s infancy and upon the summary resignation of Dato’ Onn Jaafar as UMNO President in 1951, then newly appointed President Tunku Abdul Rahman requested his involvement into mainstream politics, to maintain strength from Johor. After Tunku Abdul Rahman won the mandate of Malayans in the 1955, Dr Ismail was part of the London mission to negotiate Malaya’s independence in 1956.

Tunku Abdul Rahman appointed Dr Ismail as Malaya’s Ambassador to United States of America upon the independence of the Federation of Malaya. He also represented Malaya in the United Nations. In the first general elections in 1959, Dr Ismail contested as Alliance Party candidate for East Johor Bahru and appointed as Home Minister. He retired in 1967 for health reasons.

Deputy Prime Minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman officially launching the Malaysian Airlines System on the afternoon of 1 October 1972

He had an illustrious career as the Home Minister and introduced the Internal Security Act in 1960  as a tool for internal security upon the end of Emergency, which include to deal with subversive elements and communist terrorism. Amongst the major challenge that he managed was the Confrontation with Indonesia, upon the formation of Federation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963.

The chaos as the outcome of the third general elections in May 1969 got Tun Razak to invite the firm and no-nonsense Dr. Ismail back into the Cabinet. He was asked to take up the Foreign Affairs portfolio.

The Melbourne trained doctor was also instrumental in the Tun Razak’s administration to deal with the roots of the problem how and why the 13 May incidence happened. One of the factor was the Malays’ economic position was so behind and more than 36% were living below poverty line. Dr. Ismail’s stern response to this problem was to deal with it and “Don’t sweep things under the carpet”. When the had the national consultative committee that were represented by all parties (with the exception of DAP, which vehemently refused), the New Economic Policy (NEP) was born.

Whilst still in Ottawa, Tun Razak instructed that Dr Ismail’s remains was to be interned in the National Mausoleum in Masjid Negara. He was the first statesman to be interned in the purposed built mausoleum for nation’s greatest statesman.

Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman and Toh Puan Norasyikin Mohd Seth

Dr. Ismail was survived by Toh Puan Norasyikin Dato’ Mohd Seth and six children. His first born Mohd Tawfik later was elected as Benut MP during Fourth Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s tenure.

*Updated Monday 3 August 0100hrs

Published in: on August 2, 2012 at 21:32  Comments (9)  

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. He was so against corruption and he wasn’t just doing the talk.

  2. Salaam Ramadan,

    Yes,I clearly remember the evening of 2/8/1973.

    Tun’s last official function was attending to GPMS event at Dewan Sulaiman in Kampung Bharu.The function ended way beyond 6pm.Those days sunset was 30 mins earlier.

    I remember clearly that evening besides Tun, present was Prof Diraja Ungku Aziz and alas Mr Anwar Ibrahim.

    I was then in Lower Six at Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman Ipoh.I was invited to the function to receive the Aminuddin Baki educational award for being the top malay student in the country in the 1972 Malaysian Certificate of Education examination.

    Those days GPMS did not provide hotel accomodation.Instead,they arranged for my accomodation at Asrama Doktor Latif somewhere in Jalan Keramat.I went to bed early at 9pm as the next day I have to travel back to school in Ipoh.That was actually the end of a two week school term holiday.I had travelled earlier in the morning from Muar,my home town.

    At 10pm, I was awaken by GPMS representatives and they told me about the passing away of Tun Dr Ismail who I shook hand a few hours earlier.I was rushed to a waiting car to attend tahlil at Tun’s house.

    That was 39 years ago.I am now 57,with 8 children and 8 grandchildren.Alhamdulillah,I lead a happy family life.I am thankful for the guidance and blessings Allah has given me.I pray that Allah stay my course to Him in the hereafter.

    To Tun’s family I pray for Allah guidance and blessings on all of them.

    Abdul Rahman Othman.

    • Tuan,

      Salam Ramadhan

      A very good tribute. Thank you for sharing. You should consider having a special tribute and what you remembered of Tun Dr Ismail and Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.

      A valuable experience to be shared to many, which include yours truly.

      We would gladly host your essay here in BigDogDotCom.

      Thank you, again.

      • Thank you Zakir for your kind words and appreciation.

        I am honoured to be associated with Big Dog.I find that your blog seeks engagement for betterment of our Malaysian lifes.You do it with love withou fear or favour.

        We need more of good disposed writers and leaders in our society.Allahyarham Tun Dr Ismail was a shining example.He took up assignments and positions to contribute correctly.If he found otherwise he withdrew without malice.

        Time to send my daughter to school.


  3. Semasa ayah saya berdepan masalah warungnya hendak dirobohkan oleh majlis tempatan, beliau mengadu kepada Tun Dr Ismail. Dengan mudah sekali Tun telah menghantar surat kepada DO supaya membenarkan ayah saya berniaga di mana sahaja asalkan tidak mengganggu lalulintas. Terperanjat berok DO dapat surat dari TPM dan kelam-kabut mencari ayah saya.

    Sayang sekali, wakil rakyat sekarang kalau bagitahu masalah, jawapannya senang saja: “Saya tidak boleh buat apa-apa. Itu peraturan kerajaan”.

    Bezanya pemimpin UMNO dulu dan sekarang. Dulu mudah jumpa walaupun dah jadi TPM, sekarang undi YB tapi kena jumpa PA. Kalau dapat jumpa YB pun cuma untuk bersalam saja. Lebih sikit dah kena tolak dengan bodyguard.

    YB dulu selesaikan masalah walau sekecil mana. YB sekarang tolak masalah pada org lain. Pelbagai alasan. YB sekarang cakap berdegar-degar bela Melayu tapi roboh rumah2 org Melayu untuk bagi tanah pada syarikat.

    Belum jumpa lagi YB seperti Tun yang bercakap serupa bikin. Al-Fatihah.

  4. This scene can be found in the movie Tanda Putera. It is a movie that all Malaysians should come and see to understand our history

  5. AlFatihah, semoga roh Allahyarham ditempatkan dengan orang-orang yang dikasihiNya.

    Saya harap lebih ramai wakil rakyat yang mahu muhasabah diri dan bandingkan prestasi mereka dengan tokoh-tokoh hebat seperti Allahyarham.

  6. […] has been exactly 40 years since Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Tun Dr. Ismail Abdul Rahman was called back to Allah s.w.t. His demise was a shock to a nation in recovery […]

  7. […] has been exactly 40 years since Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Tun Dr. Ismail Abdul Rahman was called back to Allah s.w.t. His demise was a shock to a nation in recovery […]

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