Time for another uncles’ story wakakaka.
To start off, I have to quote Terence Netto’s Malaysiakini article Factual veracity of Dr M's memoirs questioned, which commented on Dr Mahathir’s memoirs.
However, my story is NOT about Dr M - sorry to disappoint you admirers and haters of Dr M ;-)
Terence Netto wrote [relevant extracts]:
One of the puzzles of his [Dr M’s] standing as a champion of the Malay position in the country's politics is that he ascended to that status despite the dim view of the race's capacity for advancement, as evidenced by what is said in ‘The Malay Dilemma.’
Attempts were made by contemporaries to rebut those opinions, most notably by the late academician Syed Hussein Alatas, who was responsible for a slender tract ‘Siapa Yang Buta?’ (Who is More Blinkered?), which exposed as unscientific and poorly researched the opinions espoused by Mahathir in his diatribe ...
… the banning of ‘The Malay Dilemma’ had the unfortunate effect of giving a spurious legitimacy to Mahathir's views, as if the fact that his book was contraband meant that the opinions propounded in it were necessarily cogent.
If the book had not been banned and the author not been sacked from Umno, it is doubted that Mahathir's career would have gained the springboard from which he vaulted to the top positions in Umno.
In the event, terminal illnesses to Abdul Razak Hussein and Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, Razak's unease with Harun Idris' Umno Youth-fuelled ascendancy, Hussein Onn's being unduly enamoured with Ghazali Shafie, Ghafar Baba's lack of tertiary education and Razaleigh Hamzah's unpreparedness due to relative youth - were the potpourri of factors that enabled Mahathir to ghost through to the No 1 position.
Essentially, Mahathir came in from left field and upended the whole arena.
Let’s consider the second last paragraph, where my story, true or just typical Malaysian rumour-mongering, centres around Malaysia’s second PM, Tun Razak.
From stories I heard in my teenage years, it would seem that Tun Razak, rather than Tun Hussein Oon, was the one who was (to use Terence Netto's word) 'enamoured' with Ghazalie Shafie. Hussein Oon merely continued his brother-in-law’s plan to have Ghazalie groomed as a potential PM.
The tale went that Razak was so taken by the intellect of Ghazalie Shafie (one of 2 men he was impressed with*) that he persuaded that top civil servant to leave his government job, join UMNO, participate in a general election and become a minister. Ghazalie eventually rose to become the powerful Home Minister after the late Tun Dr Ismail passed away. As mentioned, Razak was grooming him to be a future PM.
* the other bloke Razak was immensely impressed with was Tan Sri Haniff Omar who as a young police ASP (or DSP?) (and golly be, with a university degree too, which was very ‘wow’ in those days) served in the NOC after the May 13 riots, which was where he attracted Razak’s attention. Haniff was fast tracked by Razak into the IGP post.
Ghazalie was an avid anti-communist crusader. Even in the very sad f*up days of his declining UMNO/political star he continued to belabour this point, where following a disastrous air crash in which he survived, he claimed to spend a night in a wild boar’s pit, hiding from the communist insurgents.
Anyway, after Razak’s demise, Ghazalie made his move and arrested a number of Malay leaders close to Razak, including renowned journalist-editor Abdul Samad, for (alleged) communist leanings/affiliations. There was another bloke, a minister who my uncles couldn’t recall his name, one who was virtually whispering in Razak’s ears daily while the former PM was alive, who was also detained for (alleged) communist connections.
My uncs and their friends weren’t too sure whether the expulsion from Malaysia of several USSR (Russia’s predecessor state) embassy personnel around that time was related to the above arrests of prominent Malaysians (close to the late Tun Razak).
Like most events in Malaysia, the story would not be complete without some kind of outrageous rumours ensuing from these collection of events, namely, Razak’s death from leukaemia, arrests of (alleged) communist or pro communist Malay leaders, expulsion of USSR embassy stff, etc.
The story wakakaka went that the Yanks were worried about the closeness of the (alleged) Malay communist leaders to Tun Razak, and had him (Razak) ‘done’ – you know, gave him something to cause his death (something that ended up like leukaemia), not unlike those Israeli terrorist assassins poisoning Palestinian leaders.
They also allegedly alerted Ghazalie Shafie to the USSR infiltration at the highest level of the Malaysian government, namely the close confidantes of the late PM himself. It was also said that Ghazalie only dared act against those (alleged) communists close to Razak after the PM has passed away.
Of course, subsequently, after Dr M (the Malay street-wise fighter) became the PM, Ghazalie who was more of an intellect than a wily politician like Dr M, suffered a bad turn in his political fortune. His (alleged) Malay communist leaders were politically resurrected (or as Ghazalie preferred to describe it, ‘rehabilitated’).
What do you reckon? Is it another of those the Italians would describe as: 'Se non è vero, è ben trovato' meaning 'Even if it’s not true, it’s a good story', wakakaka.
But perhaps the far more interesting question to ask would be: what if Tun Razak didn't die, and his plan for Ghazalie Shafie to be his successor eventuated? What sort of Malaysia would we have?