FROM MANCHESTER TO PULAU MANIS. THE CHRONICLES OF A ONE TERM ADUN. Part 5
What UMNO means to Malays.
What does UMNO mean to me? Like the American declaration of independence, Malays hold some inalienable rights among these are the right to protect the religion of Islam, the rights on the Malay language, culture and ethnic identity and finally the right over this country. And to secure these rights, UMNO was formed. UMNO is relevant for as long as it remains loyal to these rights. Or if it can reinterpret these rights better. These fundamentals on which UMNO was constructed can be said to be the ABC of UMNO’s mission. A stands for agama or religion, B is for bangsa, bahasa and budaya and C is the country. Some of the readers may find the comparison between the fundamentals of UMNO’s creation with the American declaration of independence disrespectful. America after all is the most powerful nation on earth. It is the only superpower.
My response is why should we be ashamed of declaring what we stand for?. This is the basic fault of the current UMNO leadership- it no longer gives effect and substance to these fundamentals.
UMNO was formed by Malays in 1946. UMNO is the acronym for United Malays National Organisation or Persatuan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu. Its first founder was Dato Onn Jaafar. He is the father of our 3rd prime minster and grandfather to Dato Hishamudin Hussein. He later left UMNO after his idea of creating a party for all races was rejected by UMNO members. Very early on, it is clear that Malays want to retain the ethnic identity of the party. UMNO must represent the Malays first and foremost. It does not matter if people poked fun at this insistence or even describing it pejoratively as der Malay Uber alles. After 50 years of Merdeka, UMNO leaders perhaps softened by luxurious living underestimated the Malay psyche. UMNO leaders seem to retreat and become apologetic if they sounded like championing a Malay cause. UMNO appear to have lost the fundamentals of its struggles- the Alif Ba Ta or ABC of its struggles. While UMNO must become a party free from racial bigotry, the ABC of its struggles must forever be enshrined in every UMNO member.
The leaders who speak on behalf of UMNO no longer have fire in their bellies. The elitist leadership in UMNO seem to be more interested in preserving their positions. Have anyone noticed that after a month from the 12th general elections, none of the UMNO leaders have come forward to lead us as to what is to be done?. What we hear are calls not to do anything that may endanger UMNO. Hello! Please wake up. UMNO is already walking on edge. UMNO has 191 divisions and more than 3 million members. Yet it only has 78 MPs in parliament. In terms of popular votes, UMNO led Barisan Nasional has about 51% of it while the opposition has about 49%. This is a clear message that the rakyat wants a change in government.
In the meantime, UMNO leaders ensconced in their safe and comfortable offices say and do nothing. When they say do not do anything to harm UMNO, what they really mean is do not do anything that may endanger their position. We nod in agreement at what we do not understand. It’s all power play. Najib wants to keep his position. Muhyiddin wants Najib’s post. All it takes is for 38 MPs to defect and join the pakatan rakyat and UMNO will find itself as the opposition party in the next few months. If that happens, it would be interesting to test the mettle of our UMNO leadership. The UMNO leadership appeared to cave in when other races make their demand. UMNO leadership appears weakened. They appear lacking courage. The UMNO leaders appear to forget that Malays will forever want UMNO to remain championing the Malay cause.
The story behind the formation of UMNO has been told many times. It was organised to unite the Malays to fight against the colonial government’s intention to create a Malayan Union. The concept of a Malayan Union was hatched in 1945. The British wanted to control Malaya better when they returned to Malaya in 1945 after the Japanese surrender. The British did not defend Malaya to the end during the 2nd world war. Malaya was under Japanese rule from 1941 to 1945. British presence in Malaya during the war years took the form of British guerrilla forces working together with other armed resistance groups in Malaya.
The various states in Malaya were to be united under a Malayan union as a crown colony under direct rule from England. Britain would rule Malaya through the resident general with a legislative council. Membership to the legislative council will be done by the resident general. The Malay sultans were to handle religious and cultural matters only. Even then, a British resident commissioner who administer the many states in Malaya will sit in council deliberating matters regarding religion. To lent an air of legitimacy to the idea, a British official was sent to secure the consent of the Malay rulers by whatever means necessary. He managed to secure all those under duress or inducement.
The Malays were incensed. Protests sprung spontaneously everywhere. Dato Onn Jaafar mobilised all the various Malay groups to object to idea of Malayan Union. The Malays were dismayed that their sultans capitulated easily and was ready to abandon the rakyat. They objected to the idea of granting equal citizenship rights to Chinese and Indian immigrants on the principle of jus soli.(by birth) They viewed with alarm the erosion of their position as the owners of the land and from rapacious economic subjugation.
In the Malayan Union, the Malays saw the danger of being marginalised and treated with disrespect. The Malay rulers will be reduced to the status of chief kadhis responsible for the Islamic religion only. The temporal administration and management of the country will be in the hands of the governor general and colonial officers. He and his officers will govern as he sees fit consulting the sultans of Malaya only when necessary. Colonial rulers will be happy to leave the natives minding indigenous religious and cultural matters. They are unimportant economically. If the Malayan Union was accepted it would mean an end to the Malay nation as Malays understood it to be.