Tun Datu Haji Mustapha bin Datu Harun was born in Kampung Limau-Limauan, Kudat, Sabah on 31 July 1918. He is the fourth child of nine siblings of Datu Harun bin Datu Nasaruddin and Norani Hj. Abdul Rahim. Tun began his formal education at Sekolah St. James in Kudat but he only enjoyed schooling for nine months due to the passing of his mother and his father being transferred to another area.
Tun's working experience began as early as 10 years old, as a houseboy to the North Borneo Chartered Company's Kudat Resident, E.W Morrel. Tun's experience in the public service began when he was an Office Orderly at the Kudat District Office in 1934 and promoted to Native Clerk at the Kudat Native Office. On 1 February 1937, Tun was appointed as the Native Chief. His passion in the agricultural field drove Tun to enroll in agricultural courses organised by RIDA (Rural Industry Development Authority) from 1951 – 1952 at the Malaya Agricultural College, Serdang, Selangor.
Tun Datu Haji Mustapha's political career began after he was elected as the North Borneo State Legislative Assembly Member in 1954 and subsequently the North Borneo Working Council Member in 1956. In 1961, he founded United Sabah National Organisation (USNO) party, and was elected the first USNO President on 24 December 1961.The formation of USNO was due to the political development occurring in the Federation of Malaya and the announcement by Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra on the idea of Malaysia concept. The proposal by Tunku was well received by Tun and USNO. Efforts and support by Tun bore results as the Federation of Malaysia was successfully declared on 16 September 1963. Tun Datu Haji Mustapha was elected as the first Sabah Yang di-Pertua. In 1965, Tun decided to not continue his service tenure as the Yang di-Pertua to enable him to return to the political arena and lead USNO.
Tun Datu Haji Mustapha was also an activist in welfare and voluntary associations. Among the activities participated were as the President of the United Sabah Islamic Association (USIA), PERKIM (Session 1977/1979) and the Sabah Scouts Association Chief. In addition, Tun was also appointed as the Pro-chancellor for Universiti Pertanian Malaysia from November 1973 to February 1990.
During his lifetime, Tun Datu Haji Mustapha was awarded with various accolades and awards; among them are the "Knight Commander of Republic of Lebanon" (K.C.R.L.) by the Lebanese President in 1972; Seri Darjah Paduka Chura Si-Maharaja (S.P.C.M.) with the title "Dato Seri" from the Sultan of Perak; Seri Panglima Darjah Kinabalu (S.P.D.K.) with the title "Datuk Seri Panglima"; and Seri Maharaja Mangku Negara (S.M.N.), the highest award in Malaysia with the title "Tun" on 26 November 1964.
Although Tun Datu Haji Mustapha has passed away on 2 January 1995, due to his invaluable service and contribution to the community and the State of Sabah specifically and Malaysia generally, he was awarded posthumously with a Honorary Doctorate in Social Development during the Universiti Malaysia Sabah Convocation Ceremony on 2 – 3 September 2006.
Script prepared by:
National Archives of Malaysia/2011