Episode 40: The Mercy of the Tunku
Dr. Thum Ping Tjin, University of Oxford
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As the Prime Minister of the Federation of Malaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman led a stable right-wing coalition. As leader of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), he wanted to ensure its continued electoral dominance. So why would the Tunku agree to reunification with Singapore, a passionately left-wing and overwhelmingly Chinese country which would inevitably disrupt the Federation’s stable political compromise? In this episode, PJ Thum follows merger from the Tunku’s perspective, from 1955 to 1961, and explains why the Tunku would rescue Lee Kuan Yew, a man he had no particular affection for, from political defeat.
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