Hussein Onn Biography

(Former Prime Minister of Malaysia)

Birthday: February 12, 1922 (Aquarius)

Born In: Johor Bahru

Tun Hussein bin Dato' Onn was the third Prime Minister of Malaysia; he served as Prime Minister from 1976 to 1981. A much beloved and respected politician, he was fondly called "Bapa Perpaduan" (Father of Unity). He was a gentle and calm person who always emphasized on the welfare of his country and well-being of the citizenry. Thoughtful and soft-spoken, he might not have been a fiery orator, but nonetheless was an efficient communicator who put across his views calmly yet confidently. Born as the son of Dato' Onn Jaafar, the founder of UMNO (United Malays National Organisation) and a Malayan freedom fighter, patriotism was in his blood and he was totally dedicated towards his nation from a young age. Passionate about serving his country, he joined the military force soon after leaving school and also served in the Middle East when the Second World War broke out. Intelligent, brave and competent, he was appointed an instructor at the Malayan Police Recruiting and Training Centre in Rawalpindi after the war. Eventually he returned to Malaysia and joined the Malaya Civil Service as an assistant administrative officer. Over the next few years he entered politics and established himself as a principled politician who genuinely cared for the citizens. He became the Prime Minister of Malaysia in 1976 and played a significant role in promoting unity among the various communities in Malaysia
Quick Facts

Died At Age: 68


Spouse/Ex-: Suhaila Noah

father: Onn Jaafar

children: Hishammuddin Hussein

Prime Ministers Political Leaders

political ideology: Political party Independent (1987–1990), Other political affiliations - United Malays National Organisation (Before 1951; 1968–1987), Independence of Malaya Party (1951–1963) National Party (1963–1968)

Died on: May 29, 1990

place of death: South San Francisco

More Facts

education: Lincoln's Inn

Childhood & Early Life
Hussein Onn was born on 12 February 1922 in Johor Bahru, British Malaya (now Malaysia) as the son of Dato' Onn Jaafar. His father was the founder of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the largest political party in Malaysia. Onn Jaafar was also a noted freedom fighter.
Hussein Onn attended the Telok Kurau Primary School, Singapore, and later went to the English College Johore Bahru.
He joined the Johor Military Forces as a cadet in 1940. After a year he was sent to the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun, India.
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Hussein Onn proved himself to be an able cadet and after the completion of his training he was absorbed into the Indian Army. Around this time the Second World War broke out and he was sent to serve in the Middle East. He was also with the British forces that in 1945 freed Malaya from Japanese occupation.
He was recruited by the British as an instructor at the Malayan Police Recruiting and Training Centre in Rawalpindi after his service in the Second World War.
In 1945, he returned to Malaysia and was immediately made the Commandant of the Johor Bahru Police Depot. The next year he helped his politician father Onn Bin Jaafar in forming the political party, United Malays National Organization (UMNO). The primary objective of founding the party was to provide a platform for furthering the Malay interests in the struggle for independence.
In 1946, he also ventured into the Malaya Civil Service as an assistant administrative officer in Segamat, Johor. Later on he became the Klang and Kuala Selangor's district officer in the state of Selangor.
He eventually became the first youth chief of the UMNO in 1949 and the next year he was elected as the UMNO Secretary General. However, some disagreements cropped up within the party and he quit.
After leaving UMNO, he again joined hands with his father to form the Independence of Malaya Party (IMP). The new party which was open to all races of Malaya, opposed the UMNO policy of Malay supremacy.
However the IMP was not much successful and thus Hussein Onn went to London to study law at Lincoln’s Inn. He qualified as a Barrsiter-at-Law and returned home as a certified lawyer.
He started a practice in Kuala Lumpur and eventually returned to politics. In 1968 he rejoined UMNO after being convinced by the then Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak.
He won the general elections in 1969 and was appointed as the Education Minister, and a few years later he succeeded the late Tun Dr Ismail as the Deputy Prime Minister in 1973.
The Prime Minister Abdul Razak who was suffering from cancer died on 14 January 1976 while seeking medical treatment in London. Now the responsibility of leading the country fell upon Hussein Onn’s shoulders and he assumed office as the Prime Minister of Malaysia on 15 January 1976.
As the Prime Minister he stressed on rectifying the economic inequalities in Malaysia and implemented steps to form a strong unified Malaysian society. He launched the National Unit Trust Scheme and played an active role in curbing the drug menace.
He suffered from heart problems and underwent a coronary bypass in early 1981. He retired from active politics a few months later and was succeeded by Mahathir Mohamad as the Prime Minister.
Personal Life & Legacy
Hussein Onn married Tun Suhaila Noah, the daughter of Tan Sri Haji Mohamad Noah Omar, former Minister of Home Affairs and first Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, in 1948. The couple had six children.
After his retirement he played a key role in the establishment of the Tun Hussein Onn Eye Hospital, and was also actively involved with other welfare organizations.
He died on 29 May 1990 in Seton Medical Center at San Francisco, California, and was buried in Makam Pahlawan (Heroes Mausoleum) near Masjid Negara, Kuala Lumpur.

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