Tun Fuad Stephens

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Tun Muhammad Fuad Stephens
1st Chief Minister of Sabah
In office
1963–1964
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Peter Lo Sui Yin
5th Chief Minister of Sabah
In office
1976–1976
Preceded by Tun Mustapha
Succeeded by Harris Salleh
3rd Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sabah
In office
1973–1975
Preceded by Tun Pengiran Ahmad Raffae
Succeeded by Tun Mohd Hamdan Abdullah
Personal details
Born September 14, 1920
Died June 6, 1976
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Political party United National Kadazan Organization, BERJAYA
Spouse(s) Ida (married 1950; widowed 1957)[1]
Hajah Rahimah (Cecilia June Lutter)[2]
Children Johari (John Benedict; adopted–1952-1976)[3]
Affendi (Richard Bernard; 1958-2009)
Asgari (James Denis; born 1960)
Faridah (Jean Heather; born 1962)
Fauziah (Elma; born 1964)[4]
Religion Roman Catholic (1920-1970)
Sunni Islam (1971-1976)[4]

Tun Mohammad Fuad Stephens, (born Donald Aloysius Marmaduke Stephens) was the first Chief Minister of the state of Sabah in Malaysia, and the first Huguan Siou or Paramount Leader of the Kadazandusun community. He played a fundamental role in bringing the state of Sabah into the Federation of Malaysia in 1963. He held the chief minister post until 1964, and again in 1976. During his second term as Chief Minister he died in a controversial accident on 6 June 1976, in Kota Kinabalu, the state capital of Sabah. He was a passenger in an Australian made Nomad aircraft which crashed and killed everyone on board. His body was buried at the State Mausoleum near the Sabah State Mosque, Kota Kinabalu.

Early life[edit]

Stephens was born on 14 September 1920. His father, Jules Stephens Pavitt, was half Kadazan and half British, while his mother Edith Cope was half Japanese and half British.[5] Stephens had 5 siblings; 2 younger sisters and 3 younger brothers. Two of them, John and Martin died in infancy. A third, Leo Benedict was born in 1926, later became the President of the Dewan Negara between 1985-1988.[6]

Political career[edit]

Donald Stephens founded the political party United National Kadazan Organization (UNKO) in August 1961. He played a key role in negotiating the independence of Sabah and the formation of Malaysia, together with Tun Mustapha of United Sabah National Organization (USNO), and Tunku Abdul Rahman, the then Prime Minister of Malaya. The formation of Malaysia was finally achieved on 16 September 1963, which is today known as Malaysia Day. He became Sabah's first Chief Minister.

In 1964, Donald Stephens stepped down as Chief Minister in order to become the first Malaysian federal cabinet member from Sabah. He was replaced by Peter Lo Sui Yin from the Sabah Chinese Association. Stephens became the minister in charge of Sabah affairs under the Prime Minister's department.[7]

In 1973, Fuad Stephens was appointed as the governor of Sabah, known as the Yang di-Pertua Negara (the post was later known as Yang di-Pertua Negeri).[8] He held this position until 1975. Later that same year, Tun Fuad Stephens together with Harris Salleh formed the new political party BERJAYA. They would win the 1976 state election, defeating Tun Mustapha's USNO, becoming the new government of Sabah. Tun Fuad Stephens became Sabah's fifth Chief Minister. Forty-four days later, he died in a plane crash.

Ambitions to be Prime Minister[edit]

It is an open secret in Sabah that Singapore chief minister Lee Kuan Yew told Stephens that he (Lee) would be prime minister of Malaysia after Tunku and that Stephens would be made deputy prime minister. After Lee, Stephens would then be Prime Minister. Stephens’ about-turn surprised the Dusun who, like the Chinese, were in the majority and opposed to Malaysia. His agreement, however, sealed their fate.

Patently, it was Tunku who prevailed upon Lee to persuade Stephens to drop his opposition to Malaysia. Stephens was then very much influenced by Orang Kaya Kaya (OKK) Sedomon Gunsanad of Keningau who was strongly opposed to Malaysia. Stephens’ capitulation broke Sedomon who died within three years of Malaysia.

Stephens wanted a review of Sabah’s participation in Malaysia after Singapore’s exit. His reasoning was that it was because of Singapore that Sabah joined Malaysia and now that the island was out of the federation, there was no longer any reason for the Borneo state to continue to be in the federation. Stephens was referring to the DPM idea, but in public it was pointed out that Sabah and Sarawak opted for Malaysia to facilitate the merger of Chinese Singapore and multiracial Malaya. The Chinese population across both sides of the causeway was greater than the Malay numbers and this was to be compensated by the Malay and other native numbers in Sabah and Sarawak through Malaysia.

Plane crash[edit]

Main article: Double Six Tragedy

On 6 June 1976 (6.6.1976, "Double Six"), Tun Fuad Stephens and several cabinet members boarded a flight from Labuan heading towards Kota Kinabalu. About 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from Kota Kinabalu International Airport, the plane crashed killing everyone on board. Immediately after the accident foul play was suspected.

The site of the plane crash is marked by a memorial that was constructed not long after the accident. The site is located in the Sembulan area near the Grace Garden housing complex in Kota Kinabalu across Jalan Coastal Highway from Sutera Harbour resort.

Personal life[edit]

Stephens converted to Islam in January 1971, and he adopted the name Muhammad Fuad, meaning soul or spirit in Arabic. Stephens was also encouraged to renounce his surname at the time of his conversion, but he had refused to do so. [4] For a number of years he held the post of High Commissioner of Malaysia in Australia.

Legacy[edit]

Awards[edit]

  • Tun Fuad Stephens was posthumously granted the soubriquet Bapa Malaysia Dari Sabah (Father of Malaysia From Sabah) and Hugon Siou.

Places after him[edit]

Several places were named after him, including:

References[edit]

  1. ^ P. J. (1999), p. 70, 77
  2. ^ P. J. (1999), p. 95
  3. ^ P. J. (1999), p. 78
  4. ^ a b c P. J. (1999), p. 218
  5. ^ P. J. (1999), p. 35
  6. ^ P. J. (1999), p. 37
  7. ^ malaysiana1: What's In A Name?
  8. ^ Granville-Edge, P. J. (1999). The Sabahan: The Life And Death of Tun Fuad Stephens. ISBN 978-983-40114-0-6. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

New creation Chief Minister of Sabah
1963–1964
Succeeded by
Peter Lo Sui Yin
Preceded by
Pengiran Ahmad Raffae Pengiran Othman
Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sabah
1973–1975
Succeeded by
Muhammad Hamdan Abdullah
Preceded by
Tun Said Keruak
Chief Minister of Sabah
April 1976 – June 1976
Succeeded by
Harris Salleh