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Abdul Rahman, Tunku (1902–1990), prime minister of Malaysia, was born in Alor Setar, Kedah (a Malay state then under British ‘protection’), on 8 February 1902, the seventh son of Abdul Hamid Halim Shah, sultan of Kedah (fl. 1882–1943), and his Thai wife, ...

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Aung San (1915–1947) by unknown photographer © Popperfoto

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Aung San (1915–1947), politician in Burma, was born on 13 February 1915 at Natmauk, a small town in the Magwe district of central Burma, the youngest of nine children of U Pha, lawyer, and his wife, Daw Su. A sickly child but a gifted student, he was educated as a novice in a Buddhist monastic school and then at a high school to which he won a government scholarship. He was already interested in politics and adept at public speaking when he went to ...

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Ba Maw (1893–1977), chief minister of Burma and wartime head of the Burmese administration, was born on 8 February 1893 at Maubin in the Irrawaddy Delta, Lower Burma, then a province of British India, the son of Maung Maung Kye, an official in the court of the last Burmese king, and his wife, ...

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Baker, Shirley Waldemar (1836–1903), missionary and prime minister of Tonga, was born in Camden Town, London. He was the son of George Baker and his wife, Jane Woolmer, daughter of a Methodist minister, who married ‘below her station’. He grew up in drab circumstances and in 1852 stowed away to ...

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Hussein Onn, Tun (1922–1990), prime minister of Malaysia, was born in Johor Bahru, Johor (then under British protection), on 12 February 1922, the eldest son of Dato Onn bin Jaafar (1895–1962), politician, and his wife, Halimah binte Hussein. He received his early education in ...

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Harry Lee Kuan Yew (1923–2015), by Bernard Hailstone, 1953

Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge; © The Estate of Bernard Hailstone

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Lee Kuan Yew, Harry (1923–2015), prime minister of Singapore, was born in Singapore on 16 September 1923, the eldest son of Lee Chin Koon (1903–1977) and Chua Jim Neo (1907–1980). His parents were from a Straits Chinese family descended from Chinese of the Hakka dialect group. The Straits Chinese were Chinese that had been settled in the region for many years, in the process adopting the Malay language and adapting to colonial institutions. The family was wealthy, but ...

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Lim Yew Hock (1914–1984), chief minister of Singapore, was born in Singapore on 15 October 1914, the eldest of four children of Lim Teck Locke (1893/4–1931). Educated in English at Pearl's Hill School and Outram School, Singapore, he was awarded a four-year scholarship to ...

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Walter Hadye Lini (1942–1999) by unknown photographer, 1986 © Photoshot

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Lini, Walter Hadye (1942–1999), chief minister of the New Hebrides and prime minister of Vanuatu, was born at Agatoa village on the island of Pentecost, New Hebrides, and came from a line of chiefs on both his father's and mother's sides. His parents were Anglicans and his father was known for his skill as a carpenter and for the importance he placed on educating his children. ...

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Mamaloni, Solomon Suna'one (1943–2000), chief minister and prime minister of the Solomon Islands, was born in January 1943 at Rumahui village in the Arosi district of Makira Island, Solomon Islands, the son of Jaash Stephanus (Jackson) Suna'one. He was educated at the Anglican school in ...

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Mara, Ratu Sir Kamisese Kapaiwai Tuimacilai (1920–2004), chief minister, prime minister, and president of Fiji, was born at Lomaloma, on Vanuabalavu, in the northern Lau Islands, Fiji, on 6 May 1920, the son of Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba (1898–1966), heir to the tui Nayau title (the paramount chiefly title of the ...

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Marshall, David Saul (1908–1995), chief minister of Singapore, was born David Saul Mashal in Selegie Road, Singapore, on 12 March 1908, the eldest son and second of the seven children of Saul Nassim Mashal, a Sephardi Jewish merchant from Baghdad, and his wife, ...

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Khwaja Nazimuddin (1894–1964) by James Burke, 1951 Getty Images

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Nazimuddin, Khwaja (1894–1964), chief minister of Bengal and governor-general and prime minister of Pakistan, was born on 19 July 1894 in Dacca, Bengal, the son of Khwaja Nazimuddin, landowner, and his wife, Nawabzadi Bilkis Banu. His maternal grandfather was Khwaja Ahsanullah, nawab of Dacca...

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Ne Win (1911–2002) by unknown photographer, 1958 Getty Images

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Ne Win (1911–2002), military ruler of Burma, was born Shu Maung on 14 May 1911 in Paungdale, central Burma, the son of Po Kha, a revenue surveyor, and his wife, Mi Le. His father's home was said to be a frequent stop for touring nationalist politicians despite his employment by the British colonial government. Having attended ...

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Nu, U (1907–1995), prime minister of Burma, was born on 25 May 1907 in Wakema, Myaungmya, Burma, the elder son of U San Htun, merchant, and his wife, Daw Saw Khin. His parents were prosperous traders, selling monks' robes from a drapery store in the ...

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Onn bin Jaafar, Dato Sir (1895–1962), administrator and politician in Malaya, was born in Johor Bahru, the son of Dato Jaafar bin Haji Muhammad and his Circassian wife. His father and several other members of his family served as mentri besar (chief minister) of ...