Musa Hitam

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Musa Hitam

موسى بن هيتم
5th Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia
In office
18 July 1981 – 16 March 1986
MonarchAhmad Shah
Preceded byMahathir Mohamad
Succeeded byGhafar Baba
Personal details
Musa bin Hitam

(1934-04-18) 18 April 1934 (age 84)
Johor Bahru, Johor, British Malaya (now Malaysia)
Political partyUnited Malays National Organisation (until 1988)
Spouse(s)Zulaikha Sheardin

Tun Musa bin Hitam (Jawi: موسى بن هيتم; born 18 April 1934) is a Malaysian politician who was Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1981 to 1986, serving under Mahathir bin Mohamad.[1] He was the chairman of Sime Darby Berhad.

Education and honorifics[edit]

He was born in Johor Bahru, Johor in 1934. He continued his studies at the English College Johore Bahru. He also received his bachelor's degree from the University of Malaya and his master's degree from the University of Sussex. He has since been awarded with various honours, including an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Sussex and an Honorary Doctorate from Ohio University (in 1980).[citation needed] Tun Musa has held various posts at the international level at various times. These included being Chairman of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Member of the Board of UNESCO, Leader of the Commonwealth Observer Delegation to the Malawi general elections and Member of the Commonwealth Ministers Delegations to Nigeria, Pakistan, Fiji and Gambia.[citation needed]

Political career[edit]

In the 1960s, Musa was briefly Acting Secretary-General of UMNO. He was later expelled from the party in the wake of the 13 May racial rioting for insubordination to Prime Minister and UMNO President Tunku Abdul Rahman. During his political exile, he obtained his Master's from the University of Sussex.

In 1971, he was readmitted to UMNO under the Tunku's successor, Tun Abdul Razak. He rose quickly, becoming Deputy Whip of the Alliance coalition in Parliament, and was elected as a member of the UMNO Supreme Council. He was elected as a UMNO Vice-President in 1978.[2]

When Mahathir bin Mohamad succeeded Hussein Onn as Prime Minister of Malaysia, he declared the election for the Deputy Presidency of UMNO open; and thus by extension the Deputy Prime Ministership — was open; he would not support any candidate. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah joined the fray, and his main opposition was Musa Hitam.[3] Eventually, Musa won the election with 722 votes to Razaleigh's 517 votes, becoming the new Deputy President and Deputy Prime Minister.[4] Razaleigh blamed himself for taking "a rather passive stance" and not having a campaign strategy.[5]

Government positions[edit]

Before becoming Malaysia's fifth Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs in 1981-1986, Tun Musa held a number of key government posts, including

  • Chairman of the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA)
  • Deputy Minister of Trade & Industry
  • Minister of Primary Industries (1974–1978); and
  • Minister of Education (1978–1981).

Musa was replaced by Tun Ghafar Baba as Deputy Prime Minister in 1987.


In 1987, Tengku Razaleigh challenged Mahathir for the presidency of UMNO. Musa Hitam, who was then having a growing rift with Mahathir, resigned as Deputy Prime Minister, citing irreconcilable differences with Mahathir.[6] He then joined Razaleigh's Team B as UMNO deputy president candidate. In the election, Dr. Mahathir and his Team A managed to retain his position and power over the party. However, UMNO was split into two separate entities as Tengku Razaleigh was left unsatisfied with the result.

The split forced the Malaysian court to declare UMNO as illegal. Shortly after the court ruling, Dr. Mahathir reestablished UMNO as UMNO Baru (New UMNO), though the new UMNO was badly weakened. Tengku Razaleigh at the same time went on his own path and found a new political party called Semangat 46 in 1989. The number 46 refers to the year UMNO was founded.

Musa, however, decided to retire from politics and has not joined the fray since.

Post-political activities[edit]

Between 1990 and 1991, he was Malaysia's Special Envoy to the United Nations, and since 1995 he has been the Prime Minister's Special Envoy to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG). Tan Sri Musa also led the Malaysian delegation to the UN Commission on Human Rights from 1993 to 1998 and was elected Chairman of the 52nd Session of the Commission in 1995. As a member of UMNO, Musa has held various positions within the party up to Deputy President until 1987.

He also served as the Chairman of Suhakam, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission, from 1999 till 2002. In 2007, Musa became the chairman of Synergy Drive Berhad, the entity which arose out of the newly formed merger between Sime Darby, Guthrie, and Golden hope Plantations.[7] He also serves on the International Advisory Council of the Brookings Doha Center. Tun Musa is currently the Chairman of the World Islamic Economic Foundation.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Tun Musa was born to a Malay father of Javanese descent[9] and a mother of Chinese descent, who was adopted by and grew up in a Malay household at the age of five.[10] Tun Musa was married to Toh Puan Datin Ines Maria Reyna, a Peruvian of Spanish descent, whom he first met at Lima, Peru in 1959 as an international student. They had 3 children: Mariana, Carlos Abdul Rashid and Rosana. Carlos was killed together with his wife Rozita Datuk Abu Bakar during the collapse of the Highland Towers in December 1993.[11]

Tun Musa is now married to Toh Puan Zulaikha Sheardin.[12]


Honours of Malaysia[edit]

On 3 June 2006, he was conferred with the Seri Setia Mahkota (SSM), which carries the title of Tun by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong ke-12 Malaysia.[13]

Foreign honour[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Crossette, Barbara (1987-03-28). "MALAYSIA LEADER FACING MAJOR REVOLT IN HIS PARTY". Retrieved 2018-02-16.
  2. ^ Tan, Chee Khoon & Vasil, Raj (ed., 1984). Without Fear or Favour, p. 43–44. Eastern Universities Press. ISBN 967-908-051-X.
  3. ^ Tan & Vasil, p. 2.
  4. ^ Tan & Vasil, p. 204.
  5. ^ Tan & Vasil, p. 112.
  6. ^ Putra, Tunku Abdul Rahman (1986). Political Awakening, p. 86. Pelanduk Publications. ISBN 967-978-136-4.
  7. ^ "Musa Hitam is chairman of Synergy Drive". Archived from the original on 22 March 2009. Retrieved 1 October 2007.
  8. ^ "WIEF Foundation Launch by Tun Musa Hitam, Chairman of WIEF Foundation". World Islamic Economic Forum. 2017-10-25. Retrieved 2018-02-16.
  9. ^ Mokhtar Petah (1993). Kerajaan mansuh kekebalan Raja Melayu. ART Media. p. 164. ISBN 9839835009.
  10. ^ Bruce Gale (1982). Musa Hitam: A Political Biography. Eastern Universities Press (M). p. 12. ISBN 9971-65-212-9.
  11. ^ Veera, R. V. et al., 12-storey apartment block collapses–53 people believed to be still buried, new Sunday Times, 12 December 1993, p. 1
  12. ^ Melangsungkan pernikahan, TEMPO, Majalah Berita Mingguan, 13 September 1986
  13. ^ "Tun For Musa Hitam Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine". Bernama. 3 June 2006.
  14. ^ "Semakan Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat".
  15. ^ "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 2006" (PDF)., Bahagian Istiadat dan Urusetia Persidangan Antarabangsa

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Mahathir Mohamad
Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia
Succeeded by
Ghafar Baba