Year Inducted: 1993
Born on 12th February 1922, Tun Hussein Onn became the third elected Prime Minister of Malaysia in 1976. It came as little surprise when he resigned from the civil service to go into the world of politics, as he came from a family with deeply rooted nationalistic spirit. His father, Dato’ Onn bin Jaafar, was the founder of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO). Tun Hussein Onn later left the party to join his father in forming the Independence of Malaya Party (IMP).
He took a short break from politics to continue his education in London, qualifying as a Barrister-at-Law after which he returned to Kuala Lumpur to begin his practice. However, fate had different plans for Tun Hussein. In 1975, the then Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak, persuaded him to return to politics. Tun Hussein Onn stood for the general elections in 1969 and was appointed the Education Minister. He was later made Deputy Prime Minister, and eventually succeeded Tun Abdul Razak as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, upon the latter’s death.
During his reign as Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn was known as the “Father of Unity”, for his continuous struggle to achieve racial unity in the country. He introduced various policies to rectify economic imbalances between the races and communities. In 1981 he launched the National Unit Trust Scheme and the neighbourhood watch scheme, “Rukun Tetangga”.
Tun Hussein retired from active political duties in 1981 due to health reasons. After his retirement he continued to contribute to welfare organisations and social causes. He was instrumental in setting up the Tun Hussein Onn Eye Hospital. His contributions towards achieving racial unity in the nation laid the foundation for the multi-racial and multi-cultural Malaysia that we know today.