Racket Boy – An autobiography by Philip George


It was only five years after independence, in 1957, that Malaya became Malaysia, in 1963. Malaysians commemorate this day as Malaysia Day every 16th of September.

For two brief, tumultuous years, Singapore was part of Malaysia, and I still wonder how the narrative might have been had the southern island state not become an independent republic.

As a five-year-old, I had the privilege of watching Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman or just Tunku (Malay royal title) as he was fondly known, declare Merdeka (Freedom) from the British. Tunku was well-loved by estate folk in Prang Besar and my father was always singing his praise.

By the time I left the country in 1970, I’d witnessed several pivotal moments in Malaysian history, namely, Malaya’s independence from the British, the formation of Malaysia, the departure of Singapore in 1965 and the race riots of 1969, which strained the country’s unity. It paved the way for affirmative policies to come into force in 1971 – well-founded policies that were not intended to be permanent.

Looking back, I cannot help but wonder how Tunku would perceive today’s Malaysia.

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