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'IDEAS' AND IDEAL BY TUNKU ABIDIN MUHRIZ, PRESIDENT OF I.D.E.A.S (Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs) and 2nd son of the Ruler of Negeri Sembilan


HIS FULL NAME IS YAM TUNKU ZAIN AL-ABIDIN IBNI TUANKU MUHRIZ AS HE IS SECOND SON AND SECOND IN LINE 
TO THE THRONE OF NEGERI SEMBILAN AFTER EQUALLY HANDSOME BIG BROTHER YTM TUNKU ALI REDHAUDDIN.

His father Tunku Muhriz Tunku Munawir was appointed Tunku Besar in 1960 and ascended the 
throne of Negeri Sembilan on 29 December 2008 as the 11th Yang DiPertuan Besar of 
Negeri Sembilan as this unique state has no Sultan but a Yam Tuan.

In 1967 Tuanku Munawir, the father of Tuanku Muhriz, passed away. It was said Tunku Abdul 
Rahman, our first Prime Minister, influenced the 4 Undang to choose Tunku Muhriz's half-uncle
 Tuanku Jaafar to be the 10th Ruler as Tunku Muhriz was then deemed too young at 18. 

So Tunku Muhriz had to wait 41 years to ascend the throne! 

Tunku Abidin graduated from the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science 
and worked in several think-tanks in London, Houses of Parliament and World Bank in 
Washington. He returned to Malaysia in 2008 to work in United Nations Development Programme. 
He founded Malaysia Think Tank in 2006 before changing it to IDEAS (Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs). This is his latest article first published yesterday.


Fuelling communities

by Tunku ‘Abidin Muhriz. First published as ‘Focus on ensuring cleanliness of election’ in The 
Malay Mail 8 February 2013
110 years ago today our first Prime Minister was born, and normally my colleagues and I would 
be hosting an anniversary event with the blood and ideological descendants of Tunku Abdul 
Rahman Putra at his former residence (now memorial), because we chose the same date three 
years ago to formally launch IDEAS.

At that launch, Tunku’s great-granddaughter Sharyn Shufiyan and political ally Tengku 
Razaleigh Hamzah gave us accounts of their relationship with the first Prime Minister, before 
Tunku Khadijah Tunku Abdul Rahman gave a personal tour of the house in which she used to 
live. 

Our first anniversary event in 2011 included recollections by former cabinet minister Tan Sri 
Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir and a panel discussion comparing the economic policy of the first 
Prime Minister to the current, as well as the publication of a pamphlet of some of the Tunku’s 
quotes. That is when it became clear that a few prominent organisations had no qualms in 
condemning what they saw as Tunku’s weakness in being “too soft” on non-Malay Malayans.

Our second anniversary event in 2012 took a similar format, as Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim reminisced 
about his family’s Kedahan connections with Bapa Kemerdekaan, before former Chief Justice 
Tun Dzaiddin Abdullah spoke about the rule of law followed by a panel discussion comprising 
PKR’s Nurul Izzah Anwar, UMNO’s Dato’ Abdul Rahman Dahlan, Bar Council President Lim Chee Wee 
and Anis Yusal Yusoff from UKM’s Institute of Ethnic Studies. 

This year, however, we are too busy preparing for the general election observation mission. 
After months of negotiation, IDEAS and other civil society organisations were formally 
presented with appointment letters by the Election Commission Chairman. The official website – www.pemerhati.my – has detailed information, but our first priority is to recruit volunteers who
 will be on the ground to check nomination, polling, counting and tabulation. Those who would 
like to be a part of this should email amin@ideas.org.my. Some continue to accuse us of being 
cronies of the EC, but I encourage these people in particular to become volunteers so they 
can focus their energies on ensuring the cleanliness of the election instead. If they like, they 
can still accuse of being cronies of the EC afterwards.

Tuanku Munawir and Tuanku Durah touring the Shell refinery in 1963 with Mr NL Fakes (Chairman of the Shell Companies in Malaya and Singapore), Mr H Wilkinson (Managing Director of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group) and YB Dr Lim Swee Aun (Minister of Commerce & Industry)

Another anniversary was celebrated this week: in 1963 the Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri 
Sembilan Tuanku Munawir officiated the opening of Shell’s refinery at Port Dickson, and on 
Tuesday my elder brother and I toured the facility still run by the quaintly-named Shell Refining Company (Federation of Malaya) Berhad. 

My knowledge of the petroleum industry is rather limited, but the briefing by the Managing 
Director Rozano Saad and his team was most comprehensive. First we got an overview of the 
history of Shell here (they commenced operations in the Straits Settlements in 1891 and struck 
oil in Miri in 1910 courtesy of a well called the Grand Old Lady), before talking about the more 
strategic aspects of its upstream and downstream operations and finally, the more technical 
side of things. As I have not sat in a chemistry classroom since 1998, I had to clarify several terms
 the engineers referred to. But I now understand the significance of the refinery’s new Hijau 
project which is soon to go live – it will enable the refinery to vary its feedstock options, 
increase diesel production and improve refining margins.

After a brief stop at the 2 kilometre purpose-built jetty, there was lunch, commemorating Shell’s 
50 Years with the Community. Of course, there was a video that all big corporates now have to 
prove their corporate social responsibility credentials. This one featured a large number of 
testimonials from community leaders saying positive things about Shell. Away from company representatives, however, I asked for unabridged sentiments. A resident of Kampung Hailam told 
me that Shell had donated fire extinguishers to villagers just months before a lightning
-induced blaze actually occurred. An elderly gentleman from Kampung Arab essentially credited 
the entire economic development of the area to the oil giant, while another said that three generations of his family had worked at Shell. Wow: this is the kind of relationship that must be
 the envy of many other big corporates, like those chaps wanting to open a rare earths plant in 
Pahang.

During his lunchtime speech, the Tunku Besar Seri Menanti pulled out a well-preserved 
programme book and photos from the launch event 50 years ago, which got the senior staff and community leaders into reminiscing mode for the rest of the afternoon. PD can be sure of Shell 
for a while more, it seems.
The feelings and inspiration triggered by the past can be powerful indeed. Alas, I have rarely 
seen public sector employees express such institutional loyalty and motivation compared to 
what I saw from these private sector employees.

Tunku ’Abidin Muhriz is President of IDEAS

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