Fuad Stephens

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Muhammad Fuad Stephens

Tun Fuad Stephens.jpg
1st & 5th Chief Minister of Sabah
In office
18 April 1976 – 6 June 1976
GovernorMohd Hamdan Abdullah
Preceded byMohammad Said Keruak
Succeeded byHarris Salleh
In office
16 September 1963 – 31 December 1964
GovernorMustapha Harun
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byPeter Lo Sui Yin
3rd Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sabah
In office
16 September 1973 – 28 July 1975
Chief MinisterMustapha Harun
Preceded byPengiran Ahmad Raffae
Succeeded byMohd Hamdan Abdullah
6th Malaysian High Commissioner to Australia
In office
Preceded byMohamed Baba
Succeeded byAwang Hassan
Personal details
Donald Aloysius Marmaduke Stephens

(1920-09-14)14 September 1920
Kudat, British North Borneo (now Sabah, Malaysia)
Died6 June 1976(1976-06-06) (aged 55)
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Political partyUnited National Kadazan Organisation (UNKO)
United Pasokmomogun Kadazan Organisation (UPKO)
Sabah People's United Front (BERJAYA)
Spouse(s)Ida (married 1950; widowed 1957)[1]
Hajah Rahimah (Cecilia June Lutter)[2]
ChildrenJohari (John Benedict; adopted–1952–1976)[3]
Affendi (Richard Bernard; 1958–2009)
Asgari (James Denis; born 1960)
Faridah (Jean Heather; born 1962)
Fauziah (Elma; born 1958)[4]
MotherEdith Margaret Laura Mary Cope (1898–1976)
FatherJules Pavitt Stephens, Snr. (1896–1944)

Muhammad Fuad Stephens, (born Donald Aloysius Marmaduke Stephens; 14 September 1920 – 6 June 1976)[5] 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 role in bringing Sabah into the Federation of Malaysia in 1963. While he was initially against the idea of Sabah joining in the Federation, given British concerns about the stability of the region and their move to relinquish all their colonies in the post WWII era, he was gradually convinced to work towards it. He held the chief minister's post from 16 September 1963 until 31 December 1964 when he was forced to resign; and again in 1976 for 54 days from 15 April.

During his second term as Chief Minister (which began on 15 April 1976) he died in a controversial accident on 6 June 1976 dubbed Double Six Crash, 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, including his son Johari. 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 in Kudat. His father, Jules Stephen Pavitt (later known as Jules Pavitt Stephens, Snr.), was of mixed parentage, half-Kadazan and half-British. Jules was born and brought up in North Borneo in the district of Papar. Jules' father, Ernest Alfred Pavitt was born in Akaroa, New Zealand but had ancestral roots in Colchester, Essex, England, United Kingdom.[6] When Ernest Alfred Pavitt left North Borneo to live in New Zealand, Jules dropped the name Pavitt and made his surname Stephens. Fuad Stephens' mother, Edith Cope, was of mixed Japanese, British and Dusun ancestry from Kinabatangan, Sandakan. Stephens had five siblings; two younger sisters and three younger brothers. Two of them, John and Martin, died in infancy. A third, Leo Benedict was born in 1926 and later became the President of the Dewan Negara from 1985 to 1988 amongst other accomplishments.[7] His sisters were Esther (born in 1928) and Agnes (born in 1930).

Political career[edit]

Donald Stephens founded the political party United National Kadazan Organisation (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 Organisation (USNO), Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore 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 as UNKO together with USNO and Sabah Chinese Association (SCA) formed the Sabah Alliance coalition to rule the new Government of Sabah.[citation needed]

In 1964, Donald Stephens stepped down as Chief Minister to become the first Malaysian federal cabinet member from Sabah. He was replaced by Peter Lo Sui Yin of SCA. Stephens became the minister in charge of Sabah affairs under the Prime Minister's department.[8]

Stephens saw Malaysia as the federation of four countries - Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore - as equal partners, as opposed to the eleven states making up the Federation of Malaya, which had less autonomy.[9]

Following Singapore's exit from Malaysia, Stephens sought a review of Sabah's participation in the federation,[10] although he was not seeking secession.[11] However, this was rejected by the federal government, which feared that such a move would endanger the federation as a whole.[12]

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).[13] He held this position until 1975. Later that same year, Tun Fuad Stephens together with Harris Salleh formed the new political party Sabah People's United Front (BERJAYA). They won the 1976 state election, defeating Tun Mustapha's USNO and 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.[citation needed]

Plane crash[edit]

On 6 June 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.

The site of the plane crash is marked by a memorial called Double Six Monument 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 adopted the name 'Muhammad Fuad', the latter meaning "heart" in Arabic. Stephens was also encouraged to renounce his surname at the time of his conversion but declined to do so.[4] From 1968 to 1973, he held the post of High Commissioner of Malaysia to Australia.


Honours of Malaysia[edit]


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

Places named after him[edit]

Several places were named after him, including:


  1. ^ P. J. (1999), p. 70, 77
  2. ^ P. J. (1999), p. 95
  3. ^ P. J. (1999), p. 78
  4. ^ a b P. J. (1999), p. 218
  5. ^ Biodata Tun Haji Mohd. Fuad Stephens
  6. ^ http://pavitts.tripod.com/page8.html
  7. ^ P. J. (1999), p. 37
  8. ^ malaysiana1: What's In A Name?
  9. ^ Sabah 25 years later, 1963-1988, Institute for Development Studies (Sabah), 1989, page 56
  10. ^ ASEAN Forecast, Volumes 5-7, Executive Publication Pte, 1985, page 12
  11. ^ Malaysia, 1965, page 24
  12. ^ Malaysian Federalism: Conflict Or Consensus, Mohammad Agus Yusoff, Penerbit Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 2006, page 223
  13. ^ Granville-Edge, P. J. (1999). The Sabahan: The Life And Death of Tun Fuad Stephens. ISBN 978-983-40114-0-6.
  14. ^ "Semakan Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat".
  15. ^ "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1975" (PDF).


External links[edit]

Political offices
New creation Chief Minister of Sabah
Succeeded by
Peter Lo Sui Yin
Preceded by
Pengiran Ahmad Raffae Pengiran Omar
Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sabah
Succeeded by
Mohd Hamdan Abdullah
Preceded by
Mohammad Said Keruak
Chief Minister of Sabah
April 1976 – June 1976
Succeeded by
Harris Salleh