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  • Ousted! An Insider's Story of the Ties That Failed to Bind
  • Anthony S.K. Shome (bio)
Ousted! An Insider's Story of the Ties That Failed to Bind. By Patrick Keith. Singapore: Media Masters, 2005. Softcover: 198 pp.

This book is about the separation of Singapore and Malaysia from an insider who felt it was time to unshackle his "self-censorship" and to tell "a different way of approaching the separation story" (p. 3). It is true of any major political event that there will always be an enduring curiosity for new information. This book brought on such a curiosity to see if there are other facts on why Singapore and Malaysia parted company

The book is divided into three sections: eight sub-sections in Section 1, six in Section 2, and eight in Section 3. The events are well documented but the narratives do not run chronologically. The first section starts mid-stream of the Tunku's life, in 1965, while he recuperated at the Ritz Hotel in London. It went on to offer interesting snippets of his life as a young student in England and later as Malaya's first chief minister. The author relates an episode the Tunku had with Lee Kuan Yew, while he was recuperating in London, when Lee insisted that the exasperated Tunku sign at the back of an envelope to attest to an agreement (p. 24).

The next two sub-sections talk about the early days of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), the Alliance and Merdeka, Soekarno and konfrontasi (pp. 27–54). In the rest of the first section, the book talks about the Tunku's continuing problems with Indonesia, of the racial riots in Singapore, which the Tunku believed were instigated by the then Indonesia's ambassador to Malaysia, Lt. General Djatikusomo (pp. 57–58). The Tunku made regular visits to Singapore and, in one visit, told the leaders of the Singapore branch of the Alliance party that Lee Kuan Yew had challenged his leadership (p. 64). Lee had accused Dato' Syed Jaafar Albar, UMNO's secretary-general, for inciting [End Page 341] the Malays. Lee toured New Zealand and Australia to explain to them that "Malaysia was really worth defending" (p. 66).

In the last sub-section of Section 1, the book talks about more difficulties the Tunku had with Lee. The Tunku had taken umbrage with Lee's alleged question on the indigeneity of the Malays. Despite Lee's denial, the Tunku and his associates were unrelented, and UMNO demanded Lee's arrest (pp. 70–72).

The first sub-section of Section 2 is about Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore, of Lee's belief in merger with Malaysia, his fight against the communists and the rivalry he had with MCA's chief and finance minister, Tan Siew Sin, for the support of the Chinese. The section also touches on Tan's demand for Singapore to cough out a bigger financial contribution to Malaysia's coffers (pp. 84–85). The next chapter in this section is about the foray of the People's Action Party (PAP) into Malaysia. Headlined "The PAP Trounced", it talks about the PAP's loss at its first election attempt in the Malaysian General Elections of 1964. The Tunku was upset with Lee for breaking a pact which called for the PAP to stay out of peninsular Malaysia's general elections. Lee felt he was duty-bound to enter the elections to save the Chinese votes from going to the pro-communist Socialist Front, since the MCA had lost its grip on the Chinese. The PAP won only one seat (pp. 91–94).

The next sub-section describes Syed Jaafar Albar's continuing diatribe against Lee, many of which were carried in Utusan Melayu. Lee retaliated with a rally attended by 101 Malay organizations which pledged their allegiance to Lee over Albar. Two days later, on 21 July 1964, racial riots erupted in Singapore (pp. 101–3). The next sub-section talks about the events following the riots, of Razak's visit to Singapore, the apprehensions of Singapore's Chinese business community, Lee's meeting with the...


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