Chacko Vadaketh narrates: Road to Nationhood: Formation of Malaysia Parts 1 & 2 on the History Channel (2017)

An ongoing annual documentary series on the story of Malaysia. These episodes show how the newly independent former British Colony of Malaya joins the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the island city state of Singapore to become Malaysia. A strategic alliance master minded by Tunku Abdul Rahman of Malaya and Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. A romance that then turned dramatically sour.

Road To Nationhood: Formation of Malaysia Part 1

Road To Nationhood: Formation of Malaysia Part 2

Road to Nationhood: Formation of Malaysia is a 2-part historical documentary film chronicles the period from 1957 to 1965.

The documentary traces the formation of Malaysia which features unseen archive and footage, relived through advanced and cutting edge visual effects. The documentary’s main focus - to account untold stories of the political and economic struggles and the founding fathers of Malaysia such as Tunku Abdul
Rahman Putra, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, Tun Abdul Razak and Tun Tan Siew Sin as told by close associates, family and friends.

The Post-Merdeka Malaya under Tunku’s leadership was booming with development, leading him to declare himself as “the happiest Prime Minister in the world.” However, the unity of the formidable Alliance is tested as the first cracks of power struggle begins to surface during the 1959 elections, the first since
independence. A new faction of young MCA leaders led by Dr. Lim Chong Eu demands more seat allocations and that Mandarin to be recognised as an official language. Although these demands are swiftly withdrawn, the damage is irreversible.

While the Emergency is virtually coming to an end by 1960 in Federation, externally, there is a fear of communism growing in Southeast Asia and the embroilment in the Cold War. Down south, the perpetual movement of Singapore politics towards the left, creates the impression that unless something is done, the island will become a “second Cuba”. Recognising the security threat to the Federation, on 27 May 1961, Tunku proposes the formation of Malaysia to bring together Malaya, Singapore, Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei for political and economic co-operation.

However, Tunku faces strong opposition from Indonesia and Philippines —Indonesian President Soekarno declares a violent Confrontation to crush Malaysia. In Brunei, A.M. Azahari from Parti Rakyat launches a bloody revolt against the Sultan’s inclination to join Malaysia. The initial opposition to Malaysia shared by political leaders in Sabah and Sarawak dissolves slowly after a well-organized “study tours” and visits to land development schemes. Singapore’s People Action Party leader, Lee Kuan Yew, sees the merger as a solution to the growing leftists in his party.

Undeterred by the setbacks, Tunku and his comrades worked tirelessly to negotiate the terms of the formation. He signs the Malaysia Agreement with Britain, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak on 9 July 1963 and Malaysia is formed on 16 September 1963. However, this merger is short-lived when Singapore ceases to be a part of Malaysia in just the span of two years.

“Road to Nationhood: Formation of Malaysia” features personal and political perspectives of the struggles and oppositions to the Malaysia merger. It is inspired by the rich historical contents and the stories derived from them in NSTP Group Publications’ book of the same title. The documentary will also
feature the voices of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Tun Pehin Seri Abdul Taib Mahmud, Tan Sri Ghani Ghilong, Othman Wok, Tun Musa Hitam, Tan Sri Leo Moggie, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Dato’ Seri Samy Vellu, Tan Siok Choo, and many more.