Tun Abdullah bin Ayub was born on 3 January 1926 in Pasir Panjang Laut, Sitiawan, Perak. He received his early education at the Pasir Panjang Laut Malay School and the Anglo-Chinese School, Sitiawan, before pursuing his education at King Edward VII School in Taiping. Due to his perseverance and diligence in his studies, he achieved excellent results in the Cambridge School Certificate examinations and pursued his studies at the Raffles College and the University of Malaya, Singapore. He graduated with a B.A. degree (Hons) in 1953 and was awarded the Queen's Scholarship for his outstanding achievement.
During the Japanese occupation, Tun Abdullah was a Japanese Language teacher and at the time of the British Military Administration, he became involved in politics by joining M.N.P. as well as A.P.I. alongside Pa' Sako, the late Dato' Ahmad Boestaman and Tan Sri Aishah Ghani.
Tun Abdullah's career in administration began when he was accepted as a Probationary Officer in the Malayan Civil Service (M.C.S.) on 5 January 1954 and appointed as the Assistant Commissioner for Labour in the Selangor Labour Office. The need to meet the requirements of the British, then, has Tun Abdullah to take up Chinese Language Studies for 2 years with the intention to become the Chinese Affairs Officer in the future, but this position was abolished because of the assistance given by M.C.A.
After completing the Chinese Language Studies, Tun Abdullah was placed in the Office of the Chief Minister and the Minister of Home Affairs as the Private Secretary to Y.T.M. Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra from August 1956.
He was transferred to the Ministry of Interior and Justice to assist in the preparation for the Independence Day celebrations and installation of the first Yang Dipertuan Agong on 31 August 1957. His positions in M.C.S. has enabled him to gain as much knowledge in public administration and to further enhance his skills, he was sent for a course in Public Administration at the University of Cambridge, England for a year from 1958 to 1959.
Upon his return from England, Tun Abdullah was assigned to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare as the Principal Assistant Secretary and subsequently to the Prime Minister's Department. Finally, he was transferred to the Treasury Department in early 1961. Tun Abdullah served the Treasury Department for a long period of almost 15 years (1961-1972, 1974-1978). During that period, he held several key positions in the ministry and was promoted from the Highest of Level H to Staff A. His tenure in the Treasury coincided with the period of rapid development, the formation of Malaysia and the tragedy of 13 May 1969. Development plans had to be formulated and financial management had to be intensified. Tun Abdullah was fully involved in these activities. He was a member of the National Development Planning Committee (N.D.P.C.) for some time and subsequently became its chairman. Financial regulations pertaining to the inclusion of Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Singapore into Malaysia became his responsibility and he was in London when the Malaysia Agreement was signed in 1963.
Tun Abdullah's excellent service performance led him to higher key positions of the country. This was evident when he was appointed as the Director General of Public Services on 1 July 1972. In addition, he served in the Ministry of Finance as the Secretary General from August 1974 to December 1978. He was also appointed as the Chairman of the Employees' Provident Fund.
His excellence as an administrator reached its peak when he was appointed as the Chief Secretary to head the national Civil Service on 1 January 1979. Concurrently, he was also the Cabinet Secretary to the Cabinet Ministers. He was also appointed as the Chairman of the National Electricity Board.
Upon his retirement from the Civil Service on 3 January 1981, Tun Abdullah was appointed as the Chairman of the Civil Service Tribunal. Clearly his experience and services to the country were too valuable to be dismissed even though his tenure had ended.
Apart from carrying out official duties as an administrator, Tun Abdullah was also appointed to hold key positions in the Government and Statutory Bodies. Among them were: -
- Establishment of Syarikat Perumahan Pegawai Kerajaan Sdn. Bhd. (S.P.P.K.) and being its chairman for some time.
- Chairman of the National Population and Family Development Board
- Chairman, Koperasi Pegawai-Pegawai Melayu Malaysia Berhad
- Chairman, Ladang MOCCIS Sdn. Bhd.
- Chairman, Malaysian Educational Body
- Member, Johor State Economic Development Corporation.
- A member of the Board-of-Directors, Malaysia National Insurance Sdn. Bhd.
As an administrator, he devoted his services and loyalty to the civil service in particular and the country in general. His deeds were recognised by the conferment of the SPCM, SPMJ, DPMT, DPSK, PGDK awards received from various states in Malaysia, as well as at the federal level with the KMN, JMN and PSM awards in 1974 and PMN in 1979, both of which carried the title Tan Sri.
Historical Narration – Malaysian Administration History
National Archives of Malaysia